Local garden clubs hosting deep south regional convention

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2010

NATCHEZ — Carol Frank has spent the past two years with a note pad and pen handy, frantically making notes and checklists.

But come Sunday all of the to-dos will be checked off.

Frank and Jo Ann Herrington are the chairwomen for the Deep South Convention for garden clubs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

“I don’t think there has been a day that has gone by in the past two years that I haven’t been on the phone with Jo Ann about something,” Frank said. “It has been a lot of work getting ready for the convention, but we are near the end.”

The convention is a yearly event for federated garden clubs in the deep-south states. The convention location rotates among the six states.

“It was Mississippi’s turn to host, and Natchez is somewhere different,” Herrington said. “I think everyone coming in will really enjoy our city.”

Approximately 200 garden club members have already registered for the convention and will begin arriving in Natchez Sunday.

The convention will be in full swing Monday and Tuesday with meetings, workshops, floral design shows and an awards banquet.

The Natchez Garden Club, Pilgrimage Garden Club and Auburn Antebellum Home are opening Auburn, the House on Ellicot Hill, Longwood, Magnolia Hall and Stanton Hall for Sunday tours for convention attendees.

On Monday, convention attendees will attend the Historic Natchez Pageant, and Tuesday there will be a picnic on the bluff and an evening reception for the National Garden Club president and Deep South Region director.

The duties to organize the conference were a joint effort of both the Natchez Garden Club and the Pilgrimage Garden Club.

Frank and Herrington were assisted by planning committee members Micki Hartley, Linda McFarland and Faye Weatherly.

“It has been fun working together,” Hartley said. “From the time we stepped in, we have treated this as one group and not two separate clubs.”

Convention events will be headquartered at the Natchez Grand Hotel, but with free time built into the agenda, it is likely convention attendees will spend time enjoying all Natchez has to offer.

Local businesses teamed with the convention committee to offer shopping discounts to attendees. Registered convention attendees will have a card indicating the businesses offering special discounts.

“The business community has been very cooperative and supportive of our convention by offering these discounts and donating door prizes,” Herrington said. “I really think this will draw these ladies to our downtown and into our local shops.”

And while they are shopping and touring is the perfect time to make sure each lady leaves with a good impression of Natchez.

“We need for Natchez to turn on the Southern hospitality that we are so good at,” Weatherly said. “If you see a lady with one of our convention badges on, smile and tell them ‘hello.’

“We want everyone leaving Natchez with a smile on their face and good things to say about their stay.”