Will 4th of July reignite Natchitoches activities?

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By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

The Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission (NHDDC) discussed the plans and/or cancellations of the numerous downtown events at their May 21 virtual meeting.

Following is a list of tentatively scheduled events:
June 27: NSU virtual freshman connection
July 4th: Independence Day celebration (pending and also partnering with KTBS Channel 3’s Freedom Fest Series. Will include fireworks and possibly live entertainment)
July 31-Aug. 1: Sale on the Trail (el Camino Réal)
Sept. 11-12: Lady Anglers Tournament
Sept. 5: Zydeco Festival
Sept. 19: Meat Pie Festival
Oct. 3-4: Car Show
October: Cemetery Tour
Oct. 10: TappedTober, Tour of Homes
Oct. 24: NSU Rowing Regatta
Nov. 7: Pub Crawl
Dec. 15-17: Sports Hall of Fame Induction
Next year: May 21-22, 2021, JazzFest
Weekly: Farmer’s Market
Cancelled events include: Dragon Boat races

The NHDDC re-adopted their budget from last year. “We are like a lot of agencies in the state, we just don’t know what kind of financial hit our group is going to take along with everybody else,” treasurer Payne Williams said.

NHDDC contributes financially to numerous festivals, events, projects and advertising. Everything downtown from the Pumpkin Glow to the Christmas festival to a cross-country event, dragon boat races, billboards and the Pub Crawl are partially, if not fully, sustained by the NHDDC. Their funding is crucial to many of the activities within the city and surrounding areas.

Williams said due to Covid-19, some events did not happen. “The money is going to have to be returned to NHDDC,” he said. “In June, we will present the budget for this next year based on what we did last year.”

Officers were selected. Van Erikson was selected chairman, Jill Leo as vice-chair and Williams as treasurer. The positions will be confirmed at the June meeting.
Rebecca Blankenbaker with Cane River National Heritage Area stated numerous entities have banded together for the #GoLocal and #GoNatchitoches campaign. A series of videos were created to focus on outdoor recreation, night life and young adults, and what is offer in Natchitoches fort tourists and residents alike. The first 30-second video is available on the Convention and Visitors Bureau website as well as NatchitochesTimes.com.

Blankenbaker said the Grand Ecore site could tentatively reopen June 10. Los Adaes was in the midst of doing renovations and exhibit updates when Covid-19 hit. Their exhibit manufacturers are based in Illinois, which is still under a stay at home order. “Our exhibit production schedule has been significantly pushed back,” she said.
She said they received a $72,000 grant to help resurvey the current landmark district as well as areas that are now 50 years old or older could be included in the historic district, including Williams Avenue on the other side of the river. She said eligible sites are in the city and parish.

Carrie Mordorf said the National Park Service is still closed to the public but she is hoping for a June reopening.

CVB executive director Arlene Gould said the CVB office will reopen to the public June 1 and the Sports Hall of Fame induction has been moved to December. She noted the Sports Hall of Fame is now open.

Main Street director Jill Leo said most shops on Front Street are now open with the exception of those affected by the Mayeaux’s/All Tangled Up fire. She noted two new businesses were open, a coffee shop and a retail shop.

Chamber President Laura Lyles encouraged the public to use the hash tags #GoNatchitoches and #GoLocal when posting photos on social media. She said there are no in-person events scheduled, but did have Congressman Mike Johnson for a live interactive online luncheon May 21.

City Chief of Staff Edd Lee said the Eagle Building bids will be opened June 4 with work to begin end of July or early August. He said the City Council has authorized bid letting for the Depot and they are waiting for the architect’s plans to move forward on the renovations.

He also said the gazebo at Jefferson Street is moving forward as weather allows.
Mayor Lee Posey said his concerns are how “kind the summer is to us” as far as financials. He commented that the sports park is open with a lot of interest for upcoming tournaments.

A gazebo is under construction at Jefferson Street Park

He also mentioned that filling out the census is important to the community. “This is how we get some of the tax dollars flowing down. We stand a chance, if we don’t look very well, of losing a congressional seat and we don’t want to do that.”