Thursday's kickoff party, special events highlight Pilgrimage

 

Party-goers gather for live music, crawfish and shrimp at a previous Pilgrimage kickoff party. This year's community-wide party is 5-8 p.m. Thursday on the grounds of the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center, 300 Main St.

Party-goers gather for live music, crawfish and shrimp at a previous Pilgrimage kickoff party. This year's community-wide party is 5-8 p.m. Thursday on the grounds of the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center, 300 Main St. Photo by: Courtesy photo

 

Launch Photo Gallery

 

Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science student Dairian Bowles of Byhalia rehearses his Tales from the Crypt presentation of John H. Hand, an early-19th century physician buried at Friendship Cemetery in this 2018 file photo. This year's Tales from the Crypt will take place at Friendship Cemetery at 1400 Fourth St. S. Friday, March 29 and April 1, 3 and 5, from 7-10 p.m.

Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science student Dairian Bowles of Byhalia rehearses his Tales from the Crypt presentation of John H. Hand, an early-19th century physician buried at Friendship Cemetery in this 2018 file photo. This year's Tales from the Crypt will take place at Friendship Cemetery at 1400 Fourth St. S. Friday, March 29 and April 1, 3 and 5, from 7-10 p.m.
Photo by: Dispatch file photo

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

Thursday marks the kickoff of the 79th annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage -- 10 days of historic home and garden tours, Tales from the Crypt, Catfish in the Alley, Artisans Alley, a barn quilt trail, carriage rides, garden party, 5K run, food, music and fun.  

 

"We have so many wonderful events coming up," said Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau (CCVB) and Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation CEO Nancy Carpenter. "It's really going to be amazing." 

 

  • The Kickoff Party from 5-8 p.m. Thursday on the grounds of the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center at 300 Main St. features free live entertainment by the band Just a Few Cats, out of Birmingham, Alabama. Crawfish and shrimp plates by Huck's Place will be available for purchase. Home tours also begin Thursday. Twelve antebellum homes will be featured. Tour package tickets are $30, with discounts available for seniors, students, groups and military personnel. 

     

  • At Tales from the Crypt at historic Friendship Cemetery at 1400 Fourth St. S. Friday, March 29 and April 1, 3 and 5, from 7-10 p.m., Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students recreate noted personalities interred there. The popular Pilgrimage attraction is a past winner of the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students, payable at the cemetery. Wear comfortable shoes and arrive by 9 p.m.  

     

  • Saturday, March 30 is a day packed with activities. The Pilgrimage 5K Run at 7:15 a.m. at the Tennessee Williams Home starts the day.  

     

    From 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Catfish in the Alley and Artisans Alley will fill Fourth Street South (Catfish Alley) with catfish and other Southern delicacies, artisans making handcrafted period items and music. Musical acts are Big Joe Shelton and the Black Prairie Blues Ambassadors, 10-11 a.m.; Terry "Harmonica" Bean, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; Grady Champion, 12:30-1:30 p.m.; and Keith Johnson and the Big Muddy Band, 1:45-2:45 p.m. 

     

  • The Buttahatchee Barn Quilt Trail Tea Cakes and Tea reception from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, April 2 at historic Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church, 2382 Wright Road, in Caledonia offers an afternoon in the country and a display of vintage quilts. Pick up a brochure to drive the Trail to view more than 100 large wooden quilt squares on barns and other buildings. 

     

  • At a Garden Party Saturday, April 6, from 3-6 p.m., stroll the historic gardens of Temple Heights, 515 Ninth St. N. while enjoying mint juleps and cheese straws. Tickets are $15. Dewitt and Grayce Hicks, owners of Rosewood Manor, will be honored for their 42 years on the Pilgrimage tour. 

     

  • Carriage rides are a Pilgrimage favorite. Weather permitting, they are scheduled to be offered March 28-30 and April 4-6 from 10 a.m.-until, and Sunday, March 31 beginning at noon. Rides depart from the CCVB parking lot at 117 Third St. S. Inquire about double decker bus rides. 

     

  • Throughout Pilgrimage, the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library at 314 Seventh St. N. will host an extensive display of quilts. 

     

     

     

    Tickets and tourism 

     

    Tickets for Pilgrimage events and a complete schedule are available at visitcolumbusms.org, at the CCVB office, or call 800-920-3533 or 662-329-1191. Pilgrimage brochures are available at the office and on the site. 

     

    The annual Pilgrimage plays a prominent tourism role in Columbus and Lowndes County. Several thousand people will tour homes, take part in Tales from the Crypt, the 5K run and other events, Carpenter said. The economic impact at hotels and motels, restaurants, gas stations and retail stores is significant. 

     

    "The cultural heritage tourist has more spendable income, and they tend to come and stay longer than they had originally planned," Carpenter explained. "Most are retired, and their schedules are more fluid." 

     

    The Mississippi Tourism Economic Contribution Report for Fiscal Year 2018 from the Mississippi Development Authority reveals that estimated "Travel and Tourism Expenditures by Visitors" in Lowndes County was $115,000,664. State/local taxes/fees attributed to tourism in Lowndes County were $10,557,307. More than 1,500 jobs in the county were related to tourism in FY2018.  

     

    "Tourism is big business in Mississippi," said Gov. Phil Bryant in the report. "During the last fiscal year, 24 million visitors spent $6.51 billion in Mississippi and generated $405.2 million for the state's General Fund." 

     

    Every region of Mississippi offers a wealth of unique sights, sounds, tastes and experiences, Bryant continued. Columbus -- especially at Pilgrimage time -- is certainly one of them. 

     

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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