Diocese to fill Natchez

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 25, 2008

NATCHEZ — Starting Friday, the streets of Natchez will be just a bit more crowded.

In fact, the city will have approximately 1,000 part-time inhabitants.

From Friday to Sunday, Natchez will be hosting the 181st annual Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi.

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And while the event may not be one of great interest to the general public — there are two groups that are particularly excited.

Pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church, the Rev. Chip Davis said the council meeting is of great importance to his church.

While a large portion of the conference will be spent taking care of the church’s logistical issues, like the election of new leadership, Davis said it’s also a time of coming together.

“I love this church,” he said. “And for the entire church to be able to come together like this is wonderful.”

While the coming together of a church community is surely a wonderful event, there’s a second group of people who are looking forward to the conference almost as much as the Episcopalians themselves.

Local merchants are hoping this mid-winter conference will bolster their bottom lines.

Executive Director for the Convention and Visitors Bureau Connie Taunton said almost all of the hotels in Natchez are booked.

“From an economic perspective this is great for Natchez,” she said. “While they are here they eat in our restaurants and sleep in our hotels. That’s what we need.”

To make the city’s newest guests feel as welcomed as possible, Taunton and others have been calling local shop and restaurant owners to let them know to expect new faces in town.

“We want to be able to provide top- notch service,” she said.

And Taunton is hoping all that top-notch service will ultimately manifest in dollars conference goers spend in town.

Taunton could not speculate just how much money would be generated from the conference but said she feels confident the city will see an economic boost.

“The average convention delegate spends about $150 per day on a trip,” she said.

The Eola’s General Manager Ron Brumfield said his hotel has already started to see the boost.

“We are close to 99 percent full,” he said.

“And we’re hoping for 100.”

While Brumfield said the economic impact for the city’s merchants will be welcomed it is especially welcomed right now.

“January is typically very slow,” he said. “So this is great for everyone.”