NHDDC meeting discusses plans during Covid pandemic

The Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission (NHDDC) held its monthly meeting on July 16. Members gave updates from their perspective organizations but they all reflected the same sentiment. Everyone is still unsure where they stand with Covid, whether it’s funding, education, or tourism.

The NHDDC itself is still waiting on a special session to find out where its funding stands. Things are still in flux and they’re still waiting to hear more.

The NHDDC is however, still working on its second, third and fourth promotional videos for Natchitoches. The next one should be finished soon and then there will be one catering to young adults and one catering to a girls weekend type visit.

“With Covid going on the more we can market ourselves with videos like this the better,” said NHDDC Chairman Van Erickson.

He also shared an update for Northwestern State University, who’s seeing very similar numbers in this year’s virtual freshman connections events as last year. Early move-in will be held on Aug. 13 for new students with general students moving in on Aug. 14-15. The first day of classes is Aug. 17 and NSU is planning to have them face-to-face although things will be drastically different with precautions in place to protect the health of students and faculty. NSU’s reopening plan is available online at nsula.edu.

Other updates can be found below.

HDBA:

The Historic District Business Association is still planning for upcoming events. Its members know there will be a lot of changes. They’re just hoping that by the end of the year things will look a whole lot different.

NPS:

The National Park Service is still in Phase 1, but will be entering a modified Phase 1 on Sunday, July 19 where some of the open air buildings and exhibits will open up for self-guided tours. The NPS is focused on improving visitor access to Oakland and Magnolia Plantations. There’s a painting class this Saturday, July 18 with Annabel Jones that is already full. The next event they’ll be holding is a night sky program on July 31 at Magnolia. The NPS had to cancel its yoga class on July 25, which will be postponed to a later date.

Tourist Commission:

Tourism Office Executive Director Arlene Gould reported that the Folklife Center at NSU is working on setting a date for the virtual Folk Festival. The Zydeco Festival has confirmed the cancellation of their event. It doesn’t look good for the Meat Pie Festival, but organizers are looking into the feasibility of still holding its event. The Sale on the Trail will still happen. Sabine Parish pulled out of this event due to their local restrictions and mandates.

The Tourism Office will print simple rack cards to promote the Christmas Festival. There’s just not enough information to do the usual 4-fold brochure with the complete schedule.

CRNHA:

Cane River National Heritage Area Executive Director Rebecca Blakenbaker reported that the Grand Ecore Visitors Center is still closed and will not reopen until Louisiana is in Phase 3. The CRNHA is planning to kick up its docent tours on Oct. 1 with all the necessary safety measure in place. The grounds at Los Adaes State Historic Site are open to the public. They’re also working on installing new exhibits inside the building.

NHF:

The Natchitoches Historic Foundation is planning to go full steam with its annual cemetery tour because it will be held outside. Members are also working on several options for the organization’s Christmas Tour of Homes to social distance and be outdoors as much as possible.

APHN:

The update for the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches stated that tours of Melrose are available by appointment only. The organization is still working toward holding its annual Arts and Crafts Festival and Fall Tour of Homes.

Natchitoches Main Street Office:

Natchitoches Main Street Office Director Jill Leo said she’s thankful the City was able to put on its annual Fourth of July Celebration with a smaller crowd than usual. In other event news, TappedTober is still planning on moving forward with their event. The Natchitoches Northwestern Symphony Society is planning to hold an outdoor concert on the downtown riverbank on the weekend of Sept. 25 to open up its season

“Everyone is thinking outside the box with outdoor events,” said Leo. “We’re all at the mercy of what’s going to take place over the next couple of months.”

She also reported that there have been quite a few weddings in Beau Jardin scheduled over the next couple of months.

Chamber:

Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce Director Laura Lyles reported that some local businesses that are doing surprisingly well, which is good to hear. However, there’s a lot of businesses that are still hurting. She suggested residents try to support all businesses by taking a photo when supporting them and post it on social media with the hashtag #gonatchitoches.

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