• 55°

Natchez Balloon Festival was a great, fun event

Natchez came to life last weekend after lying dormant through eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of people converged on the Natchez bluff Saturday, at first in the morning for the Natchez Saturday Farmers Market and then later Saturday afternoon to watch balloons fly over the bluff and the Mississippi River.

The events, part of the 35th Annual Natchez Balloon Festival, were spectacular and a welcome diversion from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers went to great lengths this year to ensure that visitors would be able to social distance and did not hold the balloon festival’s usual concert in a limited space around Melrose as they normally would.

Instead, the balloon festival events were spread out along the whole stretch of the bluff and other events, including a concert and balloon glow events, were held at various locations throughout the city.

I ran in to former Visit Natchez and the Natchez Convention Promotion Commission Executive Director Jennifer Ogden Combs at Saturday night’s balloon glow.

Combs, who stepped down from the position on Oct. 1, said she was enjoying the balloon festival and that she was pleased with the turnout and that she had heard from several business owners that they were seeing good crowds.

Combs said she believed the crowds were fanning out more and visiting businesses and other parts of town more because of the way this year’s event was organized rather than corralling all the visitors into a limited space for one big music event.

Her observation makes sense.

James Berry, owner of Natchez Manor on Franklin Street, saw the potential early and organized a concert next to the Manor to lure visitors up to his part of town, he said, adding the bluff isn’t the only area where people can have fun.

I also ran into Scott Adams, balloon festival director on Saturday, and he noted that most of the visitors mingling on the bluff were observing social distancing guidelines and were wearing masks when they were not able to maintain social distance.

From my observations, that appeared to be the case.

That said, I am concerned that COVID-19 infection numbers appear to be rising throughout the state and nation and I do hope those precautions will have kept people from spreading the virus during the event.

Outdoors, under the sun, maintaining social distancing and mask-wearing most likely did the trick.

We have all learned to adapt and adjust to life under COVID-19 and I believe the Natchez Balloon Festival is an excellent example of the best practices under the COVID-19 precautions.

It was good to have so many visitors in Natchez on such a beautiful weekend and I’m sure the economy needed the extra boost the visitors brought last weekend.

Kudos to all who made the event such a success as well as being fun.

Scott Hawkins is the editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.

News

Bird’s-eye view: Artist with Natchez roots gives creations new perspective

News

Hundreds turnout for Natchez Christmas tree lighting Saturday night

BREAKING NEWS

Natchez-Adams schools to continue virtual learning only through December

News

E-911: Seconds can seem like minutes in emergencies (with audio)

COVID-19

Hospital CEO tests positive for COVID-19 as local cases rise

BREAKING NEWS

Flash flood warning issued for parts of Natchez

News

Hospitals using antibody therapy to help fight virus

News

Stewpot serves 300 Thanksgiving meals thanks to generous donations

News

Trash collection one day behind schedule for Thanksgiving

News

Ferriday man sentenced to life for 2019 slaying of Natchez schoolteacher

Business

Mayor: Silver Street raising and dock plans moving forward

News

Tree lighting event is Saturday in Natchez

News

Former Natchez Alderman David Massey dies at 72

News

Stewpot ready to serve needy on Thanksgiving

News

Saturday high-speed chase began in Louisiana, ended with crash in Natchez

News

No print edition of The Democrat on Friday

News

Natchez school board cancels bid opening for new high school due to COVID-19

News

5 Miss-Lou residents die of COVID-19 over weekend

News

Remains found in Natchez neighborhood

News

The Dart: Natchez resident loves music

News

Coroner: A Natchez woman dies with COVID-19 Sunday

DEVELOPING NEWS

Suspect in high-speed vehicle chase arrested in Natchez

BREAKING NEWS

Natchez Police investigating Saturday shooting that injured two people

News

Coroner: Two Ferriday men died with COVID-19 Saturday at Merit Health Natchez