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Fall Pilgrimage off to great start this year

When I was growing up in Natchez, Fall Pilgrimage was in its infancy and was somewhat of an afterthought to its big sister, Spring Pilgrimage.

That is certainly not the case any longer, and this year’s event is already proving to be one of the best Fall Pilgrimages ever.

First, Fall Pilgrimage is beginning a week later than it has in the past, and that is by design. Fall Pilgrimage starts on Friday, Sept. 27, and continues through Monday, Oct. 14.

Doug Mauro, who is president of the board of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours and is an owner, along with his partner Don McGlynn, of Historic Oak Hill Inn, said the move was made in an effort to give visitors a little bit cooler weather.

Another reason for excitement about this year’s Fall Pilgrimage is due to some technology investments made by Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, which is allowing potential visitors to buy tickets and make other plans online.

Instead of getting an old-fashioned, tear-off ticket as in years past, visitors can purchase and print their tickets online by going to NatchezPilgrimage.com, click a few times on desired tours and simply print their tickets out, or use their smart phones, which will display a code verifying the purchase.

The ticket software on the NatchezPilgrimage.com site is mobile friendly and allows visitors who speak 28 different languages in 160 countries to buy tickets.

So far, tickets have been purchased from residents of Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and France. But best of all, Natchez Pilgrimage Tours has sold twice as many tickets this year than at the same time last year.

That is truly a big deal.

Sixteen private homes will be available for tour during Fall Pilgrimage, as will Longwood, Stanton Hall and Rosalie.

However, Natchez Pilgrimage Tours and its volunteers and partners have worked hard to add more entertainment and evening events. Three homes will feature ghost or paranormal activity tours — Longwood, The Burn and The Towers. Don’t be too afraid, you will be provided with “spirits” of your own to help bolster you through the tours.

Entertainment will also be provided in the evening at Stanton Hall, which will include musicians, appetizers and Southern cocktails. The Carriage House restaurant will also be open every day during Fall Pilgrimage, including for breakfast.

During the evenings, The Carriage House will offer a Southern buffet dinner, after which participants will walk across the street to Dan Gibson’s Stanton Guest House for an interactive concert, including songs on request.

Jazz and Juleps at Auburn will be available, as will Natchez Native “fact and fiction” stories, which will be held at The Carriage House and feature complimentary wine and a cash bar. For dates of any of these and the other events not listed here, please go to the NatchezPilgrimage.com website.

The annual Antiques Forum, which is the longest continuous antiques forum in the country, will follow Fall Pilgrimage closely, beginning on Oct. 31. Its focus this year will be 1890s through the early 1900s, known as Belle Époque or “the beautiful era.” That time is characterized as art nouveau, and Natchez has a number of perfect examples from that era.

Events like these continue to bring important dollars into Natchez, which benefit everyone in our community.

Jan Griffey is general manager of The Natchez Democrat. You may reach her at 601-445-3627 or jan.griffey@natchezdemocrat.com.

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