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Pilgrimage officials report one of best years in decade

NATCHEZ — Attendance was strong at Natchez’s Spring Pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage Tours director Marsha Colson tells The Natchez Democrat that 2013 was the second-best season Natchez has seen in 10 years.

Colson said tour sales were up over last year, and group tours did especially well this year.

This year’s numbers are close to those in 2011, which was the Pilgrimage’s best year since 2004.

Some tour houses had record numbers, Colson said, including Shields Town House and Linden.

Linden owner Jeanette Feltus said many guests were from surrounding states.

“I think people are doing things closer to home,” she said. “And the weather was somewhat better this year, too. Whatever it was, I’m glad we had it.”

Colson says the return of riverboats to Natchez also helped Pilgrimage sales, as well as individual promotion from Old South Trading Post owner Jonathan Wood and other business owners.

“The boats are back, and that helped, and our staff worked really hard and did a really great job,” Colson said.

Natchez Little Theatre Executive Director Layne Taylor said the theater had its best season for “Southern Exposure” since he took over direction of theater in 2002.

“We were way up,” Taylor said. “We played to several sold-out audiences. In fact, our final Sunday (show) was standing-room only.”

Taylor said this year’s show had a new energy to it.

“We noticed that a lot of tourists came from word-of-mouth; they had heard the show was hysterical, and the locals came because it was under new direction and had a new cast,” he said. “Mainly it was the increase in tourists.”

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