Natchez residents get peek at tricentennial event plans

Published 12:12 am Tuesday, November 24, 2015

By Megan Ashley Fink

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Natchez will turn 300 next year and the Tricentennial Director Jennifer Ogden Combs said the tricentennial would be all about community involvement.

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At a public preview event Monday afternoon, the celebration’s executives called for local involvement and volunteers, and presented the year-long event’s website — — as the best way to keep tabs on what’s next in the Natchez Tricentennial.

Combs said the mission of the 2016 celebration is twofold: bringing the community together and creating economic opportunities.

“First and foremost, and without any doubt, Natchez 2016 is about community,” Combs said. “It’s community-driven, community-led, and will be successful because of our community in the Miss-Lou.”

Combs said the tricentennial seeks to accomplish this mission by the three Cs: commemorating our past, celebrating our present and creating our future.

Combs said she hopes the tricentennial will begin a revitalization of Natchez tourism.

“We don’t see 2016 as a one-off,” Combs said. “It’s not about doing events and programs and parties, and then, in 2017, we go back to business as usual … we will use it as a catalyst for positive change.”

Chairpersons from tricentennial committees presented their progress and plans for the celebration for their respective committees: arts, education, ethnic and social history, faith, fundraising, marketing and youth. Each committee called for community support, and some asked for volunteers.

Education committee chairwoman Pam Plummer invited any community members that are educators or interested in education to join them for their meeting at 4 p.m. on Dec. 9, in the tricentennial office at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

“We have had a lot of plans kicked around,” Plummer said. “We are at a crossroads.”

Plummer said she hoped finalized plans would be arrived at during the Dec. 9 meeting.

Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureauu Director Kevin Kirby, who also serves as marketing committee chairman, said the CVB has partnered with a New York City public relations firm to promote the tricentennial..

Kirby said the major selling point of Natchez was its energy.

“The visitors feel it in the air… It’s all magical and it’s all marketable, and it’s all greatly desired,” Kirby said.

Combs said that the annual events that have fostered the tourism industry in Natchez would be included in the tricentennial calendar.

“We don’t want it to take away from the events that have been bringing visitors,” Combs said. “Maybe we can add something to (the existing programs) to elevate the prominence of those events.”

Combs said volunteer application forms and applications for approval as a sanctioned tricentennial event can be found on the website, Applications to host an event for the “Natchez Legends & Lore” weekly series can also be found on the tricentennial website.