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Balloon Fest underway in Natchez: Weekend schedule

NATCHEZ — The Natchez bluff was bustling with activity Friday afternoon and evening as locals and visitors converged on the city for the 35th Natchez Balloon Festival.

Balloonists did not take to the air Friday but at least one balloonist did conduct a balloon glow on the Natchez bluff Friday.

Rather than live music concerts and other events on the bluff this year as is usually the case, organizers spread the balloon glow events to different locations throughout the city to keep people from congregating too closely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below is a rundown of some of the events taking place throughout the city this weekend.

Natchez Grand events

In partnership with Visit Natchez and the Natchez Convention Center, The Natchez Grand will host the Four Element events for families and individuals.

The Grand’s events are built around the four elements; earth, water, wind and fire.

The earth-themed event is a partnership with the Natchez Farmer’s Market. Starting Saturday morning, the Farmer’s Market will take place from 8 a.m. until noon.

The event celebrating water is focused on the views of the Mississippi River.

The Plein Air painting contest requires artists to submit their best painting of the River by 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19. The winner of the painting contest will take home $500. The winning painting will be displayed in the Natchez Convention Center.

Photographs of the Mississippi River must be submitted by 8 a.m. on Oct. 19. The photography contest winner with the best photo of the river will receive $300 and their photo will also be featured at the Natchez Convention Center.

The wind element will be represented by a free kite-making table for children and enthusiastic adults.

The Natchez Fire Department will bring a fire truck and give a demonstration about fire safety for the fire element.

Both the kite activity and the fire safety demonstration will take place from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The Natchez Manor music events

On Saturday, the Manor will hold a larger outdoor event with NRrythhm Band from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. and Emerson Hill from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. DJ Shelly will perform at the Franklin Street Bar from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. Saturday.

All patrons will be screened with a temperature check upon entrance and required to socially distance as much as possible. 

Free concert Saturday at gazebo

On Saturday a group of musicians organized by Chris Jackson and Benji Sonders, will present a free live concert at the gazebo on the bluff starting at 11 a.m. with Rabbitt Hatt followed by Cross Street from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., Scratch from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Backroads from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. YZ Ealy & Friends.

Attendees must practice COVID-19 guidelines, Jackson said.

Top Shot

A “Top Shot” archery and shooting competition will be Saturday and includes various skill competitions among registered competitors using the north end of the bluff near Madison Street.

Saturday events include an 8 a.m. archery shoot with contestants starting on the bluff and running the Natchez trail and hills back to the open field for the archery competition.
Lunch will be at 11 a.m. Saturday before transporting competitors to Natchez Shooting Sports at noon for a 1 p.m. clay pigeon shoot at Second Union Hunting Club and a 6 p.m. closing ceremony.

Sign up for balloon festival text alerts at natchezdemocrat.com to know when the balloons are flying.

The Details |

Open on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Open on Sunday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Glow Locations on Saturday  from 6:30 until 8 p.m. Bluff Park, Grassy lot on Broadway between Bontura Alley and State Street,  City parking lot on Commerce St. behind the Council Chambers, Natchez Mall, Monmouth, Magnolia Bluffs Casino, Magnolia Bluffs Hotel, Natchez Under-the-Hill, Pedro’s, Natchez High School, Vidalia Riverfront, Concordia Bank on Highway 61 North.