Downtown merchants group discusses what’s happening in Natchez

Published 5:55 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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NATCHEZ — As things are heating up in downtown Natchez, conventions, fundraisers, summer camps and other events all happening within the next two months were the topic of a Wednesday morning gathering of downtown merchants at Natchez Coffee Company.

With so much happening and with people traveling to the area on cruise ships, members of the merchants’ group are concerned about where they’re going to eat, play and shop.

“The number one complaint we hear from the ships is nothing is open on Sundays,” said Visit Natchez Director Devin Heath. “If there is any way we can figure out a strategy to still give a great experience to our visitors, you want them to come not just for a few hours but also to come back.”

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The downtown merchants’ meeting provides a shared space for organizations to spread the word on what is going on weekdays and weekends in the Natchez area, particularly on days when visitors from out of town will be around to shop.

First up is a planned gathering of the Mississippi Firefighters Association and Fire Chiefs Association at the Natchez Convention Center on May 31 through June 4, including training exercises on the Natchez bluff and social outings throughout the five-day conference.

“It’s the 100th anniversary and there will be about 600 firefighters here,” said Ryan Richardson, event planner and coordinator at the Natchez Convention Center. She added while they’re here, they will likely want to occupy Natchez bars and restaurants between planned activities.

White Linen Night

From 5 p.m. to 7:30 pm. on Saturday, June 3, White Linen Night in the 100 block of North Commerce Street will be a free event supporting Natchez artists hosted by artist and author Jax Frey and Mamie Henry, owner of Natchez Unique and The Shops at Kress.

The founders said this new event was created in response to a growing community desire for cultural events in Natchez and will feature art, music by Mississippi Roux, food, spirits and — if the community participation is good — a street full of people dressed in white.

Locust Alley will host an after-party at 511 Main St.

Other participating galleries, stores, and restaurants are Arts District Studio, Arts Natchez, Darby’s, Frankie’s on Main, Murray Printing, Natchez Coffee Company, Natchez Consign and Design, Natchez Unique, Nest, One of a Kind, OutsideIN MS, Rise and Shine, Planet Thai, The Painted Petal and The Shops at Kress.

More information can be found on the event’s Facebook page, “White Linen Night – Natchez.”

Bicycle Classic

The Natchez Young Professionals’ annual Bicycle Classic — which is a bicycle ride, not a race — will take place the following weekend. The welcome party is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, June 9, at Smoot’s on Broadway Street. Riders line up from 7:30 to 8 a.m. Saturday, June 10, on Broadway for the ride followed by a post-ride lunch and live music from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

“We already have around 75 people signed up to participate in that and they’re all from out of town,” said Lyn Jenkins, Executive Director of the Natchez Adams County Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, visit


Throughout the month of June, Natchez will host several events, tours and programing to celebrate Juneteenth, the commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved Americans.

This celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 17, with the Legends Celebration 2023 Concert, where entertainers will represent a wide range of Mississippi music including gospel, blues, R&B and jazz with performances by Dorothy Moore, Y.Z. Ealey, Ora Reed, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Alvin Shelby and The Legends Celebration Choir and more. For more information, visit

A specialized art exhibition “Jazzin on the Vine” will later highlight local and regional African American artists at Concord Quarters’ courtyard.

The exhibit is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday, June 19, and will include drawings, paintings, photography, sculptures and more as well as readings from two poets. The cost of entry is $20 and tickets can be purchased at the door.

The Juneteenth celebration also includes tours with a special focus on African American history from June 17 through 21. For more information, visit

Juneteenth festivities conclude with a free showing of “Women of the Struggle: Facing Fear in the Civil Rights Era” at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 22, at the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture.

This film chronicles the lives of women in Mississippi who lived in fear for themselves and their family members, produced by award-winning documentarians G. Mark LaFrancis, Robert Morgan and Darrell White in partnership with the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Film and Video Alliance.

Summer of Discovery

OutsideIN MS will be moving to a new location by Aug. 31.

While in the process of looking for a new home for the shop, Escape Room and activities center, Robin Person of OutsideIN MS will again be hosting “Summer of Discovery,” a summer camp that combines focuses on exploration, creativity and play from June 13 through July 27.

Individual classes are tailored to specific age groups so that children can learn new skills on their level. Most classes are $25 and run from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at OutsideIN, currently located at 112 N. Commerce St. Snacks and drinks are provided during each three-hour camp. For more information, contact Person at 662-515-0490.

Christmas in July

In July, it’s Christmastime — or at least it will feel like Christmas at Dunleith, where Christmas in Natchez hosts its annual fundraiser for the upcoming holiday season.

The Christmas in July fundraiser from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on July 13 at Dunleith will include hearty hors d’oeuvres and two cocktail tickets with a $75 admission ticket or for contributing a silent auction item of equal or more value.

Christmas in Natchez is a 501(c)3 organization that raises funds each year to dazzle visitors and locals alike with lights, garland and other Christmas decorations and family-friendly entertainment to last the whole season.

For more information, visit

The following Saturday, downtown merchants will also collaboratively host a Christmas in July sales event in downtown Natchez where they decorate and market their products for the season, Henry said.

Natchez Food and Wine Festival

At the end of July, chefs from all over the region will bring the heat for the Natchez Food and Wine Festival, scheduled to take place from July 27 through July 29.

Festivities include food vendors, cooking demonstrations, tastings and casual or formal dinners.

More details can be found at