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Preservation benefit set for Saturday night

NATCHEZ — With spring gardens in full bloom there is no better time to have a garden party, especially one with purpose.

The Natchez Garden will host its annual Party for Preservation, from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday at The Gardens, 35 Cemetery Road. This year’s party is called “A Garden Gala at The Gardens.”

The party is an annual fundraiser for the Preservation Society of Ellicot Hill, the non-profit branch of the Natchez Garden Club. Tickets are $45 per person, all of which is tax deductible.

Party for Preservation chairman Janet Sullivan said the party is a fun way to raise money and awareness of the preservation efforts at the group’s properties, the House on Ellicot Hill and Magnolia Hall.

“Preservation for us is a year-round project,” she said. “There is always a wall, a ceiling, a floor or something that needs attention, and we try to do everything as close to the original as possible, which can be very expensive.”

A cash bar and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Natchez Garden Club members will be available.

“We cater very few things, and why should we,” Sullivan said. “We have some of the best cooks in town as members.”

Music in the garden will be provided by Osgood & Blaque and indoors, piano music will be provided by Marvin McDonald.

The event changes venues each year, which, Sullivan said, gives party-goers a chance to be inside homes not normally open.

This year’s event will be hosted at the home of Dr. Fred and Mary Emrick.

“The homeowners are so gracious to open their homes for this party,” Sullivan said.

Mary Emrick said she was happy to open her house for the party because it is a great atmosphere for a spring party.

“It is called The Gardens, and there is almost always something in bloom,” she said. “Right now we have both the camellias and azaleas and roses blooming so it is a very pleasant environment for a garden party.”

This year’s guest of honor will be Walt Grayson, author and producer of the television segment “A Look Around Mississippi.”

Grayson will sign copies of his books during the party.

Sullivan said the party committee tries each year to have a special guest to offer a little something extra for party guests.

“He is a Mississippi icon,” Sullivan said. “He is not someone you would usually see in Natchez, and I think having someone like that at the party attracts some of our guests.”

Cheryl Morace, Natchez Garden Club president, said many of the groups future preservation projects depend heavily on the success of this party.

“This is our first spring fundraiser,” she said. “The money raised is really the anchor of our preservation funds.”

Kitty Bray, a member of the Party for Preservation planning committee, said the event even gives club members the chance to greet each other.

“We have many new club members that we hope will come out so we can all get to know them better,” she said.

The fundraiser began nearly a decade ago as a tablescape party, but was revamped four years ago into a spring cocktail party.

Sullivan said the change in the style of party has really helped it maintain its popularity over the years.

“This is a come and go event and people seem to really enjoy that about the party,” she said. “It is a casual, fun party with friends.”

Tickets for the party are available at the Natchez Garden Club office, 601-443-9065m or Kimbrells Office Supply, 601-442-1494.

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