Hoping to see alligators on your trip to Louisiana? You’re in luck! There are several swamp tours located around South Louisiana which will give you the opportunity to see alligators, birds and unusual plants in their natural environment. Swamp tours are fun, educational and memorable. They provide many photo opportunities – you will return home with close-up pictures of wildlife and plants from places you could never have reached on your own.
Swamp tours are offered in various watercraft, from airboats to flat bottom boats. They are conducted by knowledgeable guides who not only know where to find the wildlife and plants, but give guests information about what they are seeing. Many of the guides hold degrees in Zoology and Botany and love to share their wealth of knowledge.
Here are some of the swamp tours offered around our area:
- Cajun Country Swamp Tours is held in the Lake Martin Swamp near Breaux Bridge, La. and endeavors “to provide our guest with an unforgettable, educational and entertaining swamp tour into a Louisiana swamp with a generous serving of Cajun Country hospitality while promoting a greater respect for wildlife and the environment.” http://www.cajuncountryswamptours.com/html/st__martin_parish_native_tour_.html
- Cajun Encounters Tour Co. – Experience the Honey Island Swamp, near Slidell, La., like no other. Owned and operated by New Orleans natives, Cajun Encounters scouts out the best experts in the field to give you an authentic, safe, personal, hands-on tour of the swamp. http://www.cajunencounters.com/swamp_tour.html
- Pearl River Eco-Tours – Experience a journey like no other…into the Honey Island Swamp, one of the least altered river swamps in the country, with a professional native ecological tour guide. http://www.pearlriverecotours.com/
Not a tourist? Do you live in Louisiana? See what’s available in your own back yard.
Take a swamp tour for a stay-cation you won’t soon forget.
Louisiana has so many awesome festivals, it’s hard to pick which ones to go to! Here are our top picks for the best upcoming LA festivals. Whether you’re looking for good food, good music, or just a good time, we’ve got you covered!
Held in the “Crawfish Capital of the World,” The Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival is an annual festival held to promote the crawfish industry in Louisiana and the culture of Cajun Country.
The Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival has also been featured in documentaries by CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, The Food Channel, and PBS. It has been featured in Maxim Magazine, Southern Living, National Geographic, The New York Times, Country Cooking, Motorhome Living, and Better Homes and Garden publications. The Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival was named a top 10 Food Festival by USA Today. [http://www.bbcrawfest.com/about_us.html]
Cochon de Lait – Mansura, May 8 – 11, 2014
The Cochon de Lait Festival is held annually on the second weekend in May in Mansura, Louisiana. Mansura is the Cochon de Lait capital of the world. The festival mixes great Cajun food, good times and Louisiana music with the famous cochon de lait (French for roast suckling pig). There is plenty to see and do for an entire family to “pass a good time.” [http://www.cochondelaitfestival.com/index.html]
Greek Festival – Baton Rouge, May 10, 2014
The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Baton Rouge wants you to join them in a celebration of Greek culture, entertainment and cuisine at the 2nd Annual Baton Rouge Greek Festival in Downtown Baton Rouge on Saturday, May 11, 2013, at the Town Square festival venue. Festival goers will dine on Greek food cooked by members of the Church, using authentic Greek recipes. A Greek band, “Alpha Omega Sound,” from Atlanta, GA will provide live entertainment and visitors will learn traditional Greek dances. The Holy Trinity Greek Dancers from New Orleans will also perform throughout the day. An assortment of beverages, Greek pastries, Mediterranean arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry, religious icons, festival T-shirts and a festival poster will be available for purchase. [http://brgreekfest.com]
Bayou Boogaloo – New Orleans, May 16 – 18, 2014
The 9th Annual Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo Festival that will be held Friday May 16 – Sunday May 18, 2014 along the banks of historic and beautiful Bayou St. John. As always the Festival is a family-friendly event with a kid’s stage, along with games and activities for children. Attendees can partake in delicious food, spirits and libations, listen to great local music, and enjoy the very best art that New Orleans has to offer. [http://www.thebayouboogaloo.com]
Jambalaya Festival – Gonzales, May 22 – 25, 2014
The Jambalaya Festival Association, chartered in 1967, invites you to mark your calendar for the 47th annual Jambalaya festival to be held in Gonzales, Louisiana on Memorial Day Weekend, May 22 – 25, 2014. Your whole family will enjoy the vast variety of food, fun, music and activities that have made the Jambalaya Festival the can’t miss highlight of the year.
The festival features World Champion Jambalaya served daily, live music and entertainment, carnival rides, cooking contests, a variety of food and so much fun it takes four days to get it all in. [http://www.jambalayafestival.org]
NOLA Food and Wine Experience – New Orleans, May 21 – 24, 2014
Over the past 20 years the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience has raised more than $1 million for non-profit organizations right here in our community, while showcasing local food and chefs, and national and international wines. We invite you to raise a glass and be a part of the festivities as we make New Orleans a better place to live, work and play. [http://www.nowfe.com]
Cajun Heartland State Fair – Lafayette, May 22 – June 1, 2014
The 26th Annual Cajun Heartland State Fair scheduled May 22 – June 1, 2014 will provide the best in family entertainment for children of all ages. North American Midway Entertainment will have numerous super rides such as the giant Ferris wheel, Crazy Mouse and the Mega Drop! Games, free concerts and free attractions will entertain everyone. Prizes and surprises await everyone at the Cajun Heartland State Fair. [http://www.cajundome.com/chsf.aspx]
Just because we don’t get snow down in Louisiana doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Christmas in style. Here are some local events to get you in the Christmas spirit!
63rd Annual Downtown Christmas Parade (Baton Rouge)
The Downtown Christmas Parade will roll through the streets of downtown Baton Rouge, Saturday, December 14 starting at 5:30pm. Head down early and grab your spot to see Santa, Children’s Grand Marshall Super Why and nearly 80 others spread the magic of the holiday spirit. For more information, visit ChristmasinBR.com.
19th Century Christmas at Rosedown Plantation (St. Francisville)
Take a step back in time and visit this historic plantation, Rosedown Plantation & Gardens. You’ll have a chance to view the Main House and Nina’s Wing all decked out in historic, early-to-mid 19th century-style Christmas décor, consisting of natural greenery garlands, fruit and nut displays, cypress and cedar wreaths, and potted poinsettia blooms. 19th Century Christmas lasts the entire month of December. For more information, visit visitbatonrouge.com/event/19th-Century-Christmas-at-Rosedown-Plantation/13451.
The Nutcracker: A Tale from the Bayou (Baton Rouge)
Possibly the largest production in the city all year, Baton Rouge Ballet’s take on the classic Russian story featured 310 performers last year, including 34 professional and pre-professional dancers. Pyrotechnics, falling snow, lavish costumes and gorgeous backdrops ensure that the production doesn’t skimp on spectacle for the packed houses at the Baton Rouge River Center. The show is set for four productions—2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 21 and 22. Find out more at batonrougeballet.org.
Holiday Skating on the River (Baton Rouge)
It’s not often you get a chance to skate on a frozen lake in the South, but at the Baton Rouge River Center, you can try out your ice skating skills. Sessions are 90 minutes and happen various times every day between December 19 and January 5, except Christmas and New Year’s Day. Find out more at brrivercenter.com.
Caroling at Jackson Square (New Orleans)
Sponsored by Patio Planters of the Vieux Carré since 1946, Caroling in Jackson Square is a truly moving holiday tradition held by candlelight on the Sunday before Christmas. Jackson Square brims with candle-lit faces and song-lit spirits as high as the spires of the Cathedral. Candles and song sheets provided. The event will take place on December 22 at 7 p.m. For more information, visit https://holiday.neworleansonline.com/?mcm_event=caroling-in-jackson-square.
Revellion Dinners (New Orleans)
Derived from the French word for ‘awakening,’ Reveillon (REH-vee-on) originally was a meal served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Early New Orleans was almost entirely Catholic, and virtually the entire community would participate in these ceremonies. Two a.m. might seem like a strange time to eat a feast, but hungry families would return from the late-night service to gather around the table and eat a delicious meal that had been prepared ahead of time.
A typical early Reveillon menu might closely resemble breakfast, with egg dishes, breads and puddings. However, the dinners also frequently included dishes like turtle soup, oysters and grillades of veal. The Creoles accompanied these dishes with wines, cordials and other alcoholic drinks. The dinners could last for many hours — sometimes until dawn!
Today, Reveillon dinners are served at more conventional dining times rather than in the middle of the night, and have become more common in top-tier restaurants rather than in family homes. This year, forty eight different New Orleans eateries will offer Reveillon dinners during the holiday season. For a complete list of this year’s Reveillon dinners, including menus and dates on which the meals will be available, visit http://www.fqfi.org.
The Stockade’s own Charmaine James was named Housekeeper of the Year by the Baton Rouge Lodging Association (BRLA) in a luncheon held on September 12.
Master of Ceremonies Chris Savoca, executive officer at Travel Media Network, addressed the BRLA members in a speech about the Baton Rouge hospitality industry. He commended the Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for helping the city to become one of the nation’s culinary hotspots and urged members to continue to go the extra mile in order to make guests’ travels memorable.
“As we say in Louisiana, give guests a little ‘lagniappe,’ and see the response you get,” he said.
Savoca also spoke about the importance of each individual member of a hotel’s staff.
“Every person is as vital as every other person who holds a position in a hotel,” he said. “Today is about acknowledging the housekeepers who work day in and day out to provide that ‘wow factor.’ We appreciate all your hard work and everything you do to secure the comfort and security of our guests.”
Sixteen housekeepers from hotels and inns across Baton Rouge were honored with the distinction of Housekeeper of the Year, and each honoree also received a gift basket containing tokens of appreciation from local tourism professionals.
James, who is employed at The Stockade through Advantage Personnel, was nominated by Cynthia Shelmire, an industrial employee consultant at Advantage.
“Charmaine is a wonderful person who takes pride in her work and does an incredible job,” said Janice DeLerno, innkeeper at The Stockade Bed and Breakfast. “She fully deserves this recognition for her hard work, dedication, and professionalism. I’m grateful for all of my talented housekeepers — Charmaine, Sissie, and Shemica — and for everything they’ve done for this business.”
By Elizabeth Clausen
Local artist Sheryl Southwick has been creating art ever since she was five years old. An LSU alum, she has studied at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C., spent a year living and painting in Paris, and has had her works displayed at various galleries and cafes. Her latest work of interactive art, “If The Road Could Talk,” will be showcased in the Project 100 exhibit at Frameworks Gallery, which opens Friday, Sept. 13.
When did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in a very creative household. My mom sewed and cooked, and my dad was always tearing walls down and putting walls up. So I grew up in a very fluid household where everything was adaptable and flexible, and my parents knew how to do stuff.
And they taught us whatever they knew. I’ve been sewing since I was five and cooking since I was five. This piece that I’m working on now is a combination of those kinds of handiworks, but I’m also using a painter’s stretcher bar. I’m doing a different kind of ‘canvas’ made of wires. It’s a loom, really.
How long have you been making art?
When I was fourteen I started drawing everybody and everything all around me, and I still have stacks and stacks of sketchbooks that I can look back on. In high school, I learned how to paint. I had the best painting teacher ever. Her name was Judy Dazzio, and now she lives in Florida and has a big art school there. She taught me color theory. I guess I had a natural affinity for it, because I picked up on it quickly and I’ve remembered everything she ever taught me.
What do you like about teaching art?
I’m very rewarded when I see the light bulbs go off in people’s heads and they get something, and I also just love to see what they do.
I love children’s art. I love to watch them create because often children are less inhibited than adults, and they just go for it, which I try to do. Which is part of the reason that I’m making this piece, “If The Road Could Talk,” because I’ve never seen anything like it. Somebody gave me all these materials and I thought, I just want to make something that’s in my head.
Oh, and another thing. When I used to teach children in the woods in Maryland, I would do the coolest projects with kids all the time. And I thought, you know, those projects were so fun and different. I mean, I just want to start doing them for myself. And so that’s kind of what inspired this too. I thought, why do I have to paint a picture or do a mosaic? Those are wonderful, but I want to do something different.
Is “If The Road Could Talk” your first loom that you’ve ever made?
Well, I used to make little stick-weaving projects when I worked with children. You take two sticks and place them horizontally about six inches apart. And then you take either twine or embroidery thread and you just make a warp, hang it in a tree, and weave it. But that was a long time ago. And this is along those lines.
Why did you choose to incorporate the wires with natural elements like leaves? Are you trying to say something about technology?
I just put the leaf in there, because I kept the leaves for printmaking and I put it in there, because I kept the leaves for printmaking and I put it in there. When I put the fish in, I started thinking about how humans are adding their trash to oceans and harming wildlife.
It’s interesting how this project is evolving. It’s fascinating, because I was just starting to make something out of leftover stuff and now it’s evolving this way.
It kind of reminds me of a bird’s nest, and the way birds will take things out of their environment and weave it together in this really interesting way.
Yeah! They’ll take anything, like wire, and it becomes part of nature — even if it’s a manmade object — because it’s being used by this animal.
When did you start doing three-dimensional works? Is that a recent development?
It’s pretty recent. I started doing mosaics up in Maryland probably in 2003 maybe, because I had this beautiful bowl that broke and I wanted to do something with it. And I had gone to see a mosaic gallery in New York City, and it was so captivating to me. They had mosaic picture frames, furniture, mirrors, walls, and the surfaces just interested me.
My paintings have always had sort of broken-up surfaces. I was influenced by the post-impressionist painters a lot. My favorite painter is Bonnard. And he came out of the impressionists. I like surface breakup, because I think it makes my eyes dance. It’s not static at all.
Do you have certain themes in your artwork that you return to often?
I do. There’s one in particular that comes to mind — I love the river. I’m in love with the Mississippi River. So I like to paint waterways.
What is it about the river that you feel drawn to?
Well, I grew up here. And when I was a kid, I’d go to the levee and pet the cows at the LSU farms. Or maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces, if you believe in astrological stuff [laughs].
So you grew up in Baton Rouge?
I did. I was born on a bayou.
Like literally on the bayou?
Well, I was born in a hospital. But I mean…
How did you end up in Maryland?
I went up to Maryland in 1976, during the bicentennial of the U.S. I went to stay with my cousin and sort of acted as a nanny to her two little boys. And I got married up in Maryland. I ended up in Maryland because I wanted to go to a big city and see what it was like. I wanted to look at art museums, because Baton Rouge had such a limited collection. And so I wanted to live in a city. So I did. I lived in D.C., and I met my husband up there. Eventually we went to Paris for one year.
So how did you end up back here?
After my husband died, my son who was in high school didn’t want to come back here. I told him after he went to college I was going to come back here. So I did. I wanted to be near my family. I have five siblings. My sister, who’s also an artist, lives here. She said you can come live in my house, because my daughters are grown and we have all this room. And so I did. I came back three years ago.
Earlier, you said when you were growing up in Baton Rouge, there wasn’t much of an art scene. How do you think that’s changed? Has it changed? How would you describe the art scene in Baton Rouge right now compared to how it used to be?
There’s so much going on now. There are a whole lot of art classes going on. There’s a lot of art shows … There’s a lot more energy.
The roots, music has come out of the closet, so to speak. Art is very vital now. I think the music’s always been there but I think the visual arts have really picked up. I also think that Louisiana has a lot of stuff going on that nobody else has going on, and it always has. It’s unique. And I missed that so much when I was in Maryland. There’s such a mix of people and ethnic backgrounds here. I think it’s great.
Would you say that the South has influenced your artwork? Has Louisiana influenced your artwork?
I’m sure every artist is influenced by who they are and where they’re from, unless they’re not authentic. But we have so many influences. Because we go to school and learn stuff. I think maybe it is. Maybe the Mississippi River itself influences me, but also having lived away and seen a lot of different kinds of art is enabling me to make this piece that I’m working on right now. Because it’s kind of out of the box, in a way. Maybe it’s not. It is in a frame, though.
By the time this is finished, it will be interactive, where somebody will be able to come up and touch it and make sound happen.
Why is that important to you, to make it interactive?
Well, it’s my first interactive piece. I think it’s fun. Because you’re not supposed to touch art. And often, we want to touch art because of the tactile appearance. You want to go touch a mosaic, because you want to feel the rocks and see if it’s as rough as it looks or as smooth as it looks. You want to feel the texture.
You’re so right. That’s why they have to post signs saying, “Please don’t touch.”
Plus it’s fun. I mean, art is so serious. Museums can be so serious. But there’s so many fun things in life. And I don’t know. It’s just in my head; I’ve got to make it happen.
And I remember my brothers used to get these kits when they were little boys. They got the electronic kits where you could touch wires together and make lights come on, stuff like that. And I want to learn that. I like to understand stuff. I don’t like to be totally in the dark.
What do you want other people to know about your artwork?
I just want them to look at it and bring themselves to it. I think if you look at something long enough you might know enough about it for yourself. Sometimes if I learn too much about an artist, I might not like their art anymore, since I might not like them anymore. I liked Gauguin a lot, but when I read about what he did, you know, he left his whole family of five kids, I’m thinking, ‘That is really awful.’ Then I had a different view of his art. And people say that about Picasso, but he was such an innovator. He just invented himself over and over and over again, and he didn’t get bored with himself.
I think we get bored with ourselves when we make one kind of art too long, at least I do. I don’t want to be producing it like an assembly line without inventing new stuff. And this is just my break from painting. I love painting, I love color, and I like to keep moving forward, like Miles Davis said. You have to keep moving forward.
For more information on Sheryl Southwick, check out her website at www.sherylsouthwick.com
Football season is upon us, which means that it’s time for tailgating! Here are some things to keep in mind before you head out to your next Tiger Stadium tailgate.
1. Dress the part
There are only two sartorial rules of tailgate fashion at LSU: 1. Wear purple. 2. Wear gold. Anyone who shows up to the game wearing the opposing team’s colors will find themselves on the receiving end of the dreaded “Tiger Bait” chant, and nobody enjoys that.
2. Stock up on beverages.
A Southern tailgate wouldn’t be complete without a few cold ones. Luckily, in addition to mouthwatering cuisine, Louisiana also has a lot to offer in terms of locally-brewed beers. Abita Brewing Company, Parish Brewing Company and Bayou Teche Brewing all make excellent local brews that allow you to support Louisiana business while you cheer on the Tigers.
3. Cook a mean brisket.
A crucial element of a great tailgate is great food. Here’s a recipe for brisket from our good friend Chef Kenny that will leave your guests in awe:
- 2 1/2 pounds beef brisket
- ½ c. olive oil
- ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
- ¼ c. honey
- 2 c. red wine
- 1 onion (cut up
- Tony Chachere’s seasoning
- Garlic powder
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. In a roasting pan, place brisket fat side up. Rub seasoning all over brisket.
In a small bowl, combine rest of ingredients and pour over brisket.
3. Cover with foil, and bake in preheated oven for 3 to 4 hours. Uncover the brisket during the last hour of cooking.
[NB: You can also put the cooked brisket on the BBQ pit for a little while to crisp the outside and use your favorite BBQ sauce. Many people don’t realize that the trick to cooking beef brisket and beef ribs is to cook them in the oven first, then transfer them to the pit for a short time; the oven cooking is what tenderizes the meat, and the pit puts the char on the meat.]
Now what are you waiting for? GEAUX out and enjoy an awesome tailgate party!
If you want to understand Louisiana culture and life, it helps to stay in a historic Louisiana home — like The Stockade. Once a Civil War stockade, our six-room B&B gives guests a feel for the timeless, untouched Southern lifestyle … with the exception of flat screen TVs and air conditioning, of course!
In addition to staying in the right place when you’re visiting Louisiana, it’s important that you understand the slang, too. Here is a list of a few common phrases you’ll hear in the Pelican State:
- Neutral ground is a term from New Orleans that describes the median that divides the two sides of the street. Call it a median, and you’ve just outed yourself as a tourist.
- You don’t drive on interstates, you drive on highways.
- In New Orleans, people don’t shop for groceries; they make groceries. (The expression derives from the French faire son marché, meaning, “to do one’s market shopping,” with faire translating either as “to do” or “to make.”)
- Teenagers in Jena go around “making loops,” which is just what it sounds like — driving around town aimlessly.
- Anyone who isn’t from the South is a Yankee.
- We don’t use shopping carts. We use buggies.
- We don’t have soft drinks, colas, or pop. We have Coke. As in, “What kind of Coke do you want?” “I’ll take a Sprite.” Pepsi is Coke. Root beer is Coke. Simple.
- In Louisiana, we don’t call them “chain-link fences,” we call them hurricane fences.
- In South Louisiana, you’re not about to do anything — you’re fixin’ to do it.
- And of course the ever famous Y’all! Don’t you dare say “you guys.” Don’t even think about it.
In addition to mouthwatering cuisine, Louisiana also has a lot to offer in terms of locally-brewed beers. Here are a few:
Founded in 1986, the Abita Brewing Company is located 30 miles north of New Orleans. In its first year, the brewery produced 1,500 barrels of beer. By 1994, the company outgrew their original site and moved up the road to a larger facility to keep up with demand. Abita brews over 151,000 barrels of beer and 9,100 barrels of root beer in their state-of-the-art brewing facility.
Parish Brewing Company was founded in 2008 by a man who worked as a chemical engineer before leaving the corporate world to become a brewmaster. Brewed in Lafayette Parish, Parish beer takes pride in being fresh — it has no preservatives and is never pasteurized.
Bayou Teche Brewing‘s founder dreamed of creating a beer that would pair with the Cajun cuisine he grew up eating. He taught himself to brew beer and made several different styles of beers until he found recipes that complemented Cajun and Creole food. He then returned to Arnaudville, where he taught his brothers his secrets and worked with them to brew their first batches of beer together. Bayou Teche Brewing was founded by the Knott brothers in 2009.
While po-boys are the most famous kind of Louisiana sandwich, a close runner-up is the muffaletta (pronounced muff-uh-LOT-uh). A muffaletta is a round sandwich with layers of olive salad, salami, mortadella, mozzarella, ham, and provolone. Average muffalettas are approximately ten inches in diameter, and can be bought in half- or quarter-sizes.
The Italian sandwich has its origins in New Orleans, and is said to have been created by Salvatore Lupo at Central Grocery. Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant, opened Central Grocery in 1906. He invented the now famous sandwich to feed farmers who sold produce in the French Quarter.
So how much do Louisianians love Lupo’s now-famous sandwich? A (muff)LOTTA!
Members of the Louisiana Bed and Breakfast Association (LBBA) attended a conference at the St. Landry Parish Tourist Information Center in Opelousas on Wednesday, July 17, 2013.
The one-day conference included various speakers, including Kyle Edmiston from the Louisiana Office of Tourism, who was happy to report that tourism is the best it has ever been in the state. Kim Walker with 5 Stones Media spoke on “Growing Your Business with Social Media and Email Marketing”. “Search Engine Optimization” was the topic for Lisa Kolb with Acorn Internet Services, and Laine Garner with the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association (LTPA) gave innkeepers tips on “Packaging Your B&B.”
Following a general membership meeting, the innkeepers were taken on a FAM (Familiarization Tour) of two B&B’s in Washington, Louisiana – Country House Bed and Breakfast and Camellia Cove Bed and Breakfast. The evening was concluded with dinner at the Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant.
One of the most valuable aspects of the day was the networking between innkeepers throughout Louisiana. Innkeepers had the chance to meet one other, learn about each inn, and share ideas. Such connectivity helps innkeepers to provide a better B&B service.
The Louisiana Bed and Breakfast Association is made up of Louisiana’s finest bed and breakfast establishments. Bed and Breakfasts approved by the Louisiana Bed and Breakfast Association must meet a rigorous approval process including board certification and inspection.
[This post originally published here on the Louisiana Bed and Breakfast Association website.]