Sunday, February 04, 2007

What Can Children Do?

I attended an organizing meeting for the Natchez Council for Arts and Culture this week. One of the major problems we have in Natchez is there is so little for visiting children to do, thus we have trouble attracting tourist families. This is an issue the Council wants to address. I know this is a problem whenever my grandchildren visit, and I imagine you have faced this dilemma as well.

There are several excellent one time events for children in the area: Natchez Little Theater's Summer Workshop, Natchez Festival of Music's Education Program, Conner Burn's Kids Clay Camp, Natchez Needle Arts classes for children, the Armstrong Library's Summer Library Program, etc. But these activities are mainly directed at children who live here. What can we do for visiting tourist children and their families?

We need most regular Natchez events to include a segment for children, like the Balloon Festival does. I know my grandchildren will always be visiting me on the weekend of the Balloon Festival, because there's something fun to do for children and adults. That's undoubtedly one reason why it's such a big success.

However, we are in desparate need of ongoing activities for children. We brainstormed some ideas, but we need your input, too. And let us know of any activities that we might not be aware of.
  • Wouldn't it be nice if the antebellum homes that are open all year round would have ongoing programs for children? They could provide storytelling in period costume - or have a interpreted display of how children lived in antebellum days.
  • Some venues would be appropriate for a scavenger hunt where children must find certain items to earn a prize.
  • What about a cooking demonstration for kids on weekends at a caterer or restaurant?
  • Or some of the artists in town could do quickie lessons for children on the weekend.
  • Wouldn't it be popular to offer father/son (or mother/daughter) fishing or hunting trips?
  • We definitely need boat rides on the river which would attract the whole family.
  • Maybe it's time for another putt-putt golf course.

Of course, there's my all time favorite fantasy - a children's museum. However, I realized we don't have to have the whole thing. For example, click on the Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena, California. There are tons of exhibits there, many of which are outside. We could take just one of their exhibits and bring it here, and it would be a huge success. Any entrepreneurs out there interested in this?

Okay, let's have some comments on this. Together we can make Natchez a child friendly town!


Anonymous said...

It's so nice to see this blog being used for something other than negativity and criticism. Great post!

Marsha C said...

Love the ideas for children's activities. We really do need this. A history scavenger hunt seems like a natural here. I'll forward your ideas along to others in tourism-related endeavors who may not be aware of the blog.

Helen said...

Casey is so right about this. Touring the Natchez Indian Village and Emerald Mound, were a fun start for my children through the years, but with a team, we might be able to do more. If anyone has new ideas that they would like to discuss further, I'd be interested in helping getting something started. Contact me directly if you like. Helen Moss Smith

Casey Ann said...

farview left this comment:

The natural spot for centering child/family oriented activities is at the spot that draws every Natchez visitor and local--The Natchez Bluff. The Old Pecan Factory is a very sound building needing a partial new roof and windows replaced--a very visible, centrally located, grand interior "open space" with no interior support pillars, thus able to be arranged and re-arranged for multiple, changing uses at will. Would be a wonderful inside/outside space on the bluff with great exposure to develop a child/family recreation area, from museum to kiddie theme recreation, workshops, classes, scavenger hunts; beginning spot for field trips to the State Park, St. Catherine Wildlife Refuge, Lake St. John/Concordia for nature trips, fishing, hunting, bird watching, swamps; movies, stage, interactive exhibits, electronic marvels, river exhibits, etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Well, you can forget about the Bluff for Children's events or activities.

It's going to be an Adult Only Casino-related Entertainment area.

Look for a notice in the paper in the near future regarding the Sale or Lease of the Rail Road Depot on the Bluff.

By 2008, there will be very little public bluff left, if this adminstration's vision succeeds.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone approached the city about using the Pecan Shelling Plant or the Railway Depot for a Children's Institution?

gwen ball said...

Sadly, this is after the fact, an opportunity lost to the citizens of Natchez. The Pecan Shelling Factory building could have been used for a number of things. And, it's not always been a deteriorating eyesore. Only when the City "sold" it and the sale was contested, did it start declining with more and more broken windows and failing walls. From the start of this effort to sell off our public bluff I and others have stood before that City Council with ideas, proposals, to utilize that site, that building as a desirable, profitable public venue: museum for children, the river, Natchez life and history; a pavilion and park where residents could be sheltered during a rain shower while watching the river, host a family picnic, stage a concert, watch artists at work. City Council memembers are defiant to the will of the people, hardened against any public suggestions. Building condos on that fragile bluff will not provide jobs, or significantly increase our tax base.