By Hannah Richardson, Lifestyle Editor
Several exciting aspects going into the New Year were discussed during the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission’s (NHDDC) first meeting of 2021 Thursday, Jan. 21. Residents and visitors can look forward to the return of events such as the Arts and Crafts Festival, the Pub Crawl and a new event combining Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day!
Some notable events include:
Feb. 5-6 and Feb. 26-28: Fishing Competition
Feb. 13: Parade Your Valentine
Feb. 27: NYP Pub Crawl
March 6: Reading on the River
March 6: N-Side View Day
March 13: Bloomin’ on the Bricks
March 13: CAPA on the Cane
March 13: Home and Garden Expo
March 19-20: Cane River Film Festival
April 13: NSU Steel Band performance
April 17-18: Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival
April 25: NSU Band performance
May 21-22: Natchitoches Jazz and R&B Festival
June 17-19: Lady Bass Anglers Tournament
*Please note event details might change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
•Chair Van Erikson, also Director of Recruiting for Northwestern State University, shared that with class resuming Monday, Jan. 11, the flow of the new semester is looking to be the same as the fall when it comes to alternating online and in-person classes. “After everyone has a semester under their belt with these protocols, we’re starting to plan more events, safely of course,” said Erikson. N-Side View Day will be March 6, pending protocols and the Phase at that time. The N-Side View Day also correlates with the first home football game, along with several other sports games on campus. The Greek Centennial that was planned for April 10-13 has been pushed back to the fall semester. Erikson said as vaccines roll out and different protocols come in from the state, they are hoping to open up more later in the spring and summer. The school is also looking to host an in-person freshman connection this summer, but it could go virtual depending on factors due to the pandemic. Summer camps for several organizations are also being played by ear.
Erikson also informed the group of a new E-Sports venue, located in the Student Union. It has already had a soft opening but a ribbon cutting ceremony will take place soon. The venue has several computers and numerous types of video game consoles.
•Sandra Dickens with the Historic District Business Association (HDBA) shared that there are no final numbers when it comes to Christmas Festival, but she has optimistic expectations. Other events, such as Cookies with Santa with the Service League, turned out well, and there was interest and good attendance at the Lighted Boat Parade. Dickens said using digital means when it comes to ticket purchasing went well and could be continued for the future.
•Marketing and Communications Director for Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Kelli West said their office on Front Street was still closed to the public, but they can still grab brochures on the outside. The Louisiana High School Bass Fishing group will host the North Winter Qualifier at Grand Ecore RV Park Feb. 5-6 for high schoolers and Feb. 26-28 is the adult tournament.
•Rebecca Blankenbaker of the Cane River National Heritage Area (CRNHA) spoke on behalf of Carrie Mardorf of the Cane River Creole National Heritage Park (CRCNHP), who is hard at work with their move from their headquarters and curation facility to the Eagle Distributing building. Oakland Plantation and Magnolia Plantation will be illuminated in light of February, which is Black History Month, to honor those enslaved in the area. The CRNHA is continuing their walking tours in the historic district with new hours: Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Thursdays at 10 a.m.; Fridays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; and Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Los Adaes Historic Site is planning their first field trip since February 2020, which Blankenbaker says is their “light at the end of the tunnel.”
•Terri Cunningham with the Natchitoches Historic Foundation (NHF) said they saw a good number of visitors during their Christmas Tour of Homes in December. She said they collected about $8-10,000 in ticket sales, with well over 200 in the first weekend alone. Many of those that came were those that came to tours in the past and enjoyed the experiences in the historic homes.
•Gayle Howell with the Association for the Perseveration of Historic Natchitoches (APHN) said they are planning a membership reception at Melrose Plantation in the spring. They will also suspend tours on Thursdays starting Feb. 1. The annual Arts and Crafts Festival is planned for April 17-18 with vendors showing a big interest in attending.
•Jill Leo with the Main Street program announced they would put together a campaign during the weekend of Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras. “In conjunction with our continued efforts for GoNatchitoches and supporting shopping local, we are going to roll out a campaign entitled ‘Parade Your Valentine,” she said. It’s planned for Saturday, Feb. 13 downtown, with live music on the streets and specials for the restaurants. The windows on the south end of Front Street will also be repainted to welcome the spring season. Reading on the River, hosted by the Service League, will return March 6 on the downtown riverbank. Bloomin’ on the Bricks will return March 13 but Art Along the Bricks will not take place. Several vendors have already reached out to bring their wares.
CAPA on the Cane, which sees music groups performing on the riverbank stage on the same day, should also take place. April will see two more concerts on the downtown riverbank. The NSU Steel Band will perform Friday, April 16 and the NSU Band will perform a concert April 25. The Natchitoches Jazz and R&B Festival will also take place May 21-22 downtown. The Lady Bass Anglers have also rescheduled their tournament that was going to be last year for June 17-19. Also, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on the last weekend of June.
•Maggie Matuschka with the Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce shared that Pub Crawl will return Saturday, Feb. 27 starting at 4 p.m. The event will be different than in the past due to the pandemic but the organization is working with the Fire Marshal to make sure it will be safe. The Home and Garden Expo is planning to return in conjunction with Bloomin’ on the Bricks March 13 at the Events Center.
•Hannah Wenninger with the City of Natchitoches reminded the public to participate in a survey. The survey can be completed electronically via the City’s website at www.natchitochesla.gov/content/2021-city-services-survey. The City also partnered with Natchitoches Regional Medical Center to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the eligible public. Vaccinations are administered by pre-arranged appointments only.
For more information, visit https://www.nrmchospital.org/covid-19-update/
Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. will also present a State of the City address Feb. 1, either livestreamed or prerecorded. More information will be available soon.
The NHDDC was created for the purpose of the planning and development of the Natchitoches Historic District, a national historic landmark. The commission directs the production and maintenance of a master plan for the development of the district, which specifically provides for the development of tourism and maintenance of the historic integrity of the district.