Whether meeting or munching, Natchitoches is the place to be

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Attending the NHDDC meeting at Grand Ecore Visitor Center to promote Natchitoches events and businesses are, from left, George Sirven, Edd Lee, Arlene Gould, Sharon Gahagan, Van Erikson, Cathy Seymour, Gayle Howell, Sandra Dickens, Carrie Hough, Rebecca Blankenbaker, Jim Rhodes, Rebecca Altman, Jan Elkins, Eddie Norris, Janna Jenkins and Mayor Lee Posey.

By Juanice Gray

jgray@natchitochestimes.com

Where is a good place to have a meeting? How about a festival? Get good food? Meet friendly people? Hold a sporting event? Learn about history?

One word covers all that – Natchitoches.

It’s the place to be.

Natchitoches is the see it all, learn it all and offer it all location for everything from a state board meeting to a cross country track meet. The Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission (NHDDC) met Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Grand Ecore Visitor Center. The main topic of discussion – what’s happening, and it’s happening here.Thursday’s agenda alone included the NHDDC meeting, the KTBS Channel 3 Community Caravan at Lasyone’s, the Rue Beauport dedication and meeting the author of “Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality” at the Sports Hall of Fame. That is just one day, and it is not even Christmas Festival weekend.

Natchitoches has become a hot spot for meetings and conventions. The State Clerk of Courts Association, State Tax Assessors, State Hall of Fame board and University System of Louisiana have meetings scheduled in Natchitoches within in the next 30 days.

On top of that, the NHDDC just wrapped up phase 1 of its branding endeavor. Their branding survey garnered more than 300 responses from a “widely diverse” range of citizens according to Rebecca Blankenbaker. They will move into the second phase whereby the City will “define” itself. Stakeholders will look at data and analyze it to determine how the City would best want to portray itself. “This is where we define who we’re going to be,” Blankenbaker said. Phase three will be in early 2018 and will be the design of the logo and other physical attributes. The goal is to have a comprehensive identity across all resources including government, education, recreation, tourism, information and business. It will also encompass the benefits of living, working, retiring and meeting here.

Besides events and activities, unique merchandise is available in Natchitoches. APHN representative Gayle Howell said the Calico Ladies cookbook is available for $15 and Cathy Seymour with the NHF said a new coffee table book featuring professional photographs of homes decorated for the holidays will soon be available.

Getting Natchitoches noticed is the catalyst for growth and to that end Seymour announced the inclusion of Aurasma, an Augmented Reality site which allows you to see and interact with the world in a new way. With Aurasma, every image, object and even place can have its own aura. Auras can be as simple as a video and a link to a web page or as complex as a lifelike 3D animation. Seymour said the app is available for smart phones and tablets and the first “aura” will be at the Cunningham Law Office.

Arlene Gould said Natchitoches has been added to the La. Cultural Trail where shoppers are encouraged to purchase cultural products. Blankenbaker said the Cane River National Heritage Area found success with their archaeology day with more than 100 youth attending. They also have approximately 50 people attend the Los Adaes 300th anniversary celebration. Their tours are also still underway at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays and 2 p.m. weekends. “We have 100 eighth graders coming from Monroe for a tour,” she said.

Guests at the meeting were members of the KTBS team, station manager George Siren, account executive Eddie Norris and personality Jan Elkins as well as NSU student intern Rebecca Altman.

Mayor Lee Posey closed the meeting by stating they are looking at ways to utilize the recently cleaned Natchitoches Cleaners area on Jefferson Street.

Natchitoches is changing, growing and reaching further.