Ward is NGC queen
NATCHEZ — Since age 3, Margaret Ward has been no stranger to springs spent in hoop skirts with ribbons in her hair.
And as a seasoned Historic Natchez Tableaux participant, Ward said being crowned Natchez Garden Club queen is not only a huge accomplishment, but a great honor as well.
“Ever since I was the page, I kind of knew about the queen and really looked up to her,” said Ward, who is a Natchez native in her junior year at Ole Miss studying psychology, English and history.
Every step of the way — including Little Maypole, Big Maypole, flower girl in The Wedding and Polka — Ward said she feels like her Tableaux career has been building up to this prestigious role.
Ward said she’s looking forward to seeing childhood friends and celebrating Natchez’s history as she reigns during the second half of the Tableaux. Her reign began Saturday and continues to April 4.
“It’s fun to know I’ll be a part of the younger kids’ memories,” Ward said. “I can remember being in their place. Some of my best memories were made during Tableaux.”
Ward’s grandmother and namesake, Margaret Ward, was heavily involved in the Natchez Garden Club and Tableaux festivities. As this year’s queen, Ward said she hopes she would have made her late grandmother proud. Margaret’s mother, Iva Ward, said her mother-in-law worked very hard in the garden club.
“I think her grandmother would have been very, very proud — and we’re just sorry she can’t be here to enjoy this with her,” Iva Ward said.
Margaret said she is excited, however, to share her special moment with friends and family.
As the middle child of three girls, Margaret’s family has been heavily involved with Tableaux throughout the years.
“My sisters and I, we just kind of blended into the whole pilgrimage (production),” said Margaret, adding that her younger sister, Ann Mills Ward, was the flower girl in The Wedding the same year Margaret was in Big Maypole. “It’s been fun to participate in the production year after year.”
Margaret’s older sister, Racheal Sutherland, has also played a role in the pageant as a Polka dancer, the same year Margaret was in Little Maypole. George Ward, Margaret’s father, also holds Tableaux fame as a former NGC king.
“Tableaux, it’s just something my family has always been involved in,” Margaret said.
And while important memories resound in Margaret’s reign, this year’s NGC queen said her crown and scepter also hold significance as they were passed down from former NGC queen Paige Carlton Carter.
“Mostly, I’m just looking forward to spending time with longtime friends, though,” Margaret said. “Most of us haven’t been back in Natchez in a long time, so it’s great to all be together again.”