NHDDC gears up to welcome visitors back to Natchitoches with app and new events

By Corey Poole

The monthly meeting for the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission (NHDDC) on May 20 was brief, but back in person. Zoom meetings over the past year have allowed business to go on as usual, but it was nice to see everyone face to face.

While the meeting was short, the news shared was big as events are being planned and tourism is picking up in Natchitoches. Tourist Office Executive Director Arlene Gould said they logged over 700 visitors from 41 different states in the month of April.

To help visitors who are coming to town, the advertising for the Go Natchitoches app will be picking back up. A QR code and yard signs will be on display at Parc Natchitoches and ads are running in the Natchitoches Parish Journal and its affiliate journals in other parishes. Ads are also in the works with the Natchitoches Times.

Cane River National Heritage Area Executive Director Rebecca Blakenbaker said that after tournament weekends at Parc Natchitoches and after running digital ads in all 9 parishes with Journals there’s been an uptick in the number of downloads for the app.

Speaking of Parc Natchitoches, the City is expected a 45-team tournament in town this weekend beginning on May 21 that will bring a lot of families who will most likely shop and eat while they’re in town. Chamber President Laura Lyles expects around 100 people locally and from out of town to attend the Louisiana Young Professionals Conference on July 9.

The Natchitoches Jazz and R&B Festival is Saturday, May 22 and the Lady Bass Anglers Fishing Tournament will be in town June 14-19.

The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum will hold two induction ceremonies to play a bit of catch up after Covid. One will be held June 24-26 and the other is set for August 26-28. These events will include a Rockin’ River Fest on June 25 and August 22 that will be open to the public with live music.

Speaking of live music, the Natchitoches Main Street office plans to revamp Destination Downtown, which will kick off on July 3 to celebrate the July 4 weekend with fireworks and live entertainment. Keep an eye out for Food Truck Fridays as more information is released!

Main Street is looking at having live music on the downtown riverbank stage every Saturday night in July. They’re working with the NSU Folk Festival, who will be putting on some unplugged music sessions at the La Sports Hall of Fame for 6 Saturdays. Details are still in the works.

Other events to mark on the calendar include:

May 31- Memorial Day Program
Sept. 4- Zydeco Festival
Oct. 1-2 Classic Car Show
Oct. 9- TappedTober

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches is planning a Juried Art Fair at Melrose Plantation on Oct. 9-10 to celebrate Clementine Hunter Month. It was also mentioned at the meeting that the APHN will be requesting the City’s permission at its May 24 meeting to install a statue of Clementine Hunter in the traffic circle in front of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Blakenbaker announced that the Grand Score Visitors Center will reopen on June 2 with new operating hours: Wednesday – Saturday from 12-4:30 pm. Downtown walking tours will transition to a summer schedule with one tour being offered at 10 am Wednesday-Saturday.

In addition, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame will offer walking tours of the American Cemetery on the first Friday of every month during the summer at 11:30 am.

Check out the Cane River Creole National Historical Park/Oakland Plantation Facebook pages for details about an upcoming Painting Workshop and Yoga Class. The National Park Service is also recruiting a facilities intern for the summer if anyone is interested and wishes to contact them.

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