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Kickoff party, Catfish in the Alley highlight opening of 77th Spring Pilgrimage

The Commercial Dispatch

Live music and famously Southern foods will be served up in the opening days of the 77th annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage. A Kickoff Party Thursday, March 30, and Catfish in the Alley on Saturday, April 1 help launch the 10-day Pilgrimage that showcases antebellum home, church and garden tours and special events March 30 through April 8.  

"Initiated in 1940 and now in its 77th year, the Columbus Spring Pilgrimage has been recognized as one of the best and most authentic home tours in the South," said Nancy Carpenter, executive director of the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation and Visit Columbus. 

 

Festivities begin 

The community-wide Kickoff Party from 5-8 p.m. March 30 takes place on the newly developed performance area on the lawn beside the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center at 300 Main St. Boiled crawfish and shrimp plates by Huck's will be available for purchase for $10, complete with all the trimmings. Enjoy the fare while listening to the '90s country vibe of Mustache the Band. The Oxford-based group describes itself as the party band that will "grow on you." To get the crowd in the mood, "mustaches" will be provided.  

Partygoers of all ages can take advantage of a complimentary photo booth. Sweets by Snowie Treats will be available for purchase. 

 

Catfish in the Alley 

On April 1, historic Catfish Alley (Fourth Street South) downtown becomes a hive of activity during the ninth annual Catfish in the Alley. This Pilgrimage event invites visitors to the site from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. for signature Southern foods ranging from fried catfish to barbecue and jambalaya and live music by Mississippi blues artists Grady Champion, Terry "Harmonica" Bean and the Bean Band, Big Joe Shelton, and Keith Johnson and the Big Muddy Band.  

More than 15 hands-on artisans are slated to display their wares as well.  

Catfish in the Alley and the area that shares the name recalls a time in the early 20th century when African-American fishermen hauled their Tombigbee River catches several blocks from the river to fry and sell. The aroma of cooking catfish permeating the downtown area gave the location, which was also a hub for African-American businesses and the site of community gatherings, its name. 

 

Also during Pilgrimage 

March 30 also marks the start of home tours. The Blue Tour of Waverley Mansion, Colonnade Garden and Bryn Bella is from 9 a.m. until noon that day. The Green Tour features Rosedale, Temple Heights and its gardens, and Ole Magnolia from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.  

Other events during Pilgrimage include Tales from the Crypt March 31 and April 3, 5 and 7; a half-marathon, 5K run and Mayor's Unity Picnic April 1; a book signing with author Laurie Parker April 2 and a garden party April 8. Carriage rides and double decker bus rides will also be offered. 

"We are proud to welcome thousands of local, national and international guests to experience our exemplary historic home tours and unparalleled hospitality," said Carpenter. 

Home tour tickets are available from Pilgrimage headquarters at Visit Columbus, 117 Third St. S. For tickets or more information about any Pilgrimage event, call 800-920-3533 or 662-329-1191, or visit VisitColumbusMS.org.

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

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