Sunny days chase dollars in for area business during balloon race

Published 12:05 am Saturday, October 27, 2012

NATCHEZ — A few downtown restaurant owners and managers say their balloon race business was up this year, and they believe Mother Nature is owed the thanks.

Bowie’s Tavern General Manager John Holyoak said the tavern had a spectacular weekend for the race.

“It was better, in my opinion, this year than before,” he said. “The weather forecast was good the entire weekend, and people make their plans around the weather.”

Email newsletter signup

Bowie’s saw its biggest crowd on Saturday after the festival grounds closed.

“That’s the usual for our business, it’s biggest from 10 until 2 Saturday night,” Holyoak said.

Fat Mama’s Tamales owner David Gammill said he believes the weather was the main factor too in the restaurant’s increased business during the balloon race.

“I think the weather is the predominant factor because if the weather is not good, people don’t go out,” he said.

Gammill and Cotton Alley co-owner David Browning said they believe the balloon race committee did a great job of marketing the race and getting people to Natchez.

“We had an unbelievable weekend,” Browning said. “And we had people coming in saying they were already booking for next year.”

This year’s balloon race was the first for Cotton Alley at its new location on Main Street.

“We were closer (to the bluff) this year, and our business was definitely better,” Browning said.

Pig Out Inn owner Anne Willett said balloon race weekend business has been steady since 2010 but was up this year.

“Saturday was tremendous for us,” she said.

Willett said the restaurant sold more ribs, but also sold 600 pork sandwiches on Saturday.

“We sold more dinners than anything, which is unusual for us; we usually sell more sandwiches,” she said. “But, overall, we were up, and I think everything went really well.”