Tourism superstars honored for contributions

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ben Hillyer/The Natchez Democrat — Monmouth bartender Roosevelt Owens enthusiastically waves after being named one of Natchez’s tourism superstars Monday evening at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story contained a misspelled name. The name has been corrected now. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — Sometimes it’s the friendliness of the woman serving coffee or the smile of the man mixing a mint julep that hooks an out-of-towner on Natchez.

And Monday’s Natchez Tourism Council’s awards ceremony recognized 10 superstars of tourism who shine in a variety of capacities.

“The frontline is the most important part (of tourism),” Tourist Director Connie Taunton said.

“That’s (tourists’) first impression.”

Shining superstars included members of the service industry, hospitality industry, a city employee, a shop owner and more.

Natchez Traffic Supervisor Rick Freeman received the Mint Julep Award, which is given to a recent retiree who has impacted tourism.

“(Freeman’s) role in signage and traffic was so important to tourism,” Taunton said.

Natchez Coffee Company employee Janice Matt shows her surprise when she was named one of the community’s tourism superstars. Matt was nominated by a customer who visited Natchez this year from Ohio.

The following people were named superstars of tourism.

• Janice Matt, Natchez Coffee Company

• Carol Jones, office manager of Monmouth Plantation

• Eric Glatzer, coordinator of the Natchez Bluff Blues Fest

• Michael Gore, bartender at The Vue at Grand Soleil

• Roosevelt Owens, a bartender at Monmouth for more than 20 years

• Anne McNeil, a member of the Natchez Garden Club and owner of Elms Court

• Hal Davis, bellman at Monmouth

• Bingo Starr, the chef of the Carriage House

• Robbie Dollar, public works supervisor for the City of Natchez

• Helen Moss Smith, member of the Natchez Garden Club and owner of Texada

• Malan Parks, operations manager of Bowie’s Tavern and The Castle Restaurant

• Stratton Hall, marketing and production director for First Natchez and coordinator of the Natchez Food and Wine Festival

• Paul Melancon, owner of Melancon Antique Emporium

• Mary Louise Shields, the only living founder of the Natchez Pilgrimage

The following people who died this year and left an impact on tourism were recipients of the Gone But Not Forgotten awards:

• Arella Bacon

• Ozelle Fisher-White

• Joess Trimble

• Anna Watts Gunning

• Reuben Buzz Harper

• Ed Worley

• Holly Dauphin Fields

The following attractions received property of the year awards:

• Brandon Hall

• Twin Oaks

• Marcia’s Cottages

The Tourism Council usually hosts the awards ceremony in May. The ceremony was rescheduled for the Christmas season as a result of flooding of the Mississippi River.