State, Indians give local tourism $53,000 shot in the arm

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 27, 2001

Local tourism recently got a $53,000 boost thanks to a partnering of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the Mississippi Division of Tourism.

Laura Godfrey, Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau public relations director, said the CVB was recently awarded three Tribal-State Compact Grants: $10,000 for the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, $22,000 for a permanent Spanish exhibit at the Natchez Association for the Preservation of African-American Culture and $11,307 for a new Natchez event organized by local chef Regina Trosclair Charboneau – the Great River Roads Food Festival.

&uot;With this kind of funding, we’re able to do more of these kind of events,&uot; Godfrey said.

Shirley Wheatley, NAPAC director, said the exhibit at the museum will help &uot;to continue to show the relationship between the (Spanish and Black) races and how important the African-American community was to the success of the cotton industry in Natchez and Southwest Mississippi.&uot;

Historian Cavitt Taff, a curator with the Old Capital Museum, is designing the exhibit for the museum, interweaving traditional farm implements with photographs and narratives.

Literary and Cinema Celebration founder and co-chairman Carolyn Vance Smith said their portion of the grant money will most likely be used to offset &uot;honorarium&uot; costs, such as speaker fees, travel expenses and printed materials, such as brochures, flyers and other advertisement.

Through 10,000 direct mail brochures, organizers promote the event to others outside of Mississippi and the South.

&uot;And that’s one of the things (the grant suppliers) want, is to have an impact not only on Mississippi, but to bring in people from other states,&uot; Smith said.

Celebration co-chairman Bob Dodson with the National Park Service said the Choctow Indians’ interest in the literary and cinema celebration is two-fold.

&uot;They see the value of bringing people to the state of Mississippi,&uot; Dodson said. &uot;And hope some of them will visit their facilities.&uot;

Smith said other co-chairmen for the celebration deserving of recognition are Jim Barnett, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and Emma Blissett, Alcorn State University.