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Contents

JUNE 2021

Events

Features

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SOME LIKE IT HOT

Concerts, festivals, and more fun in the sun

6 8

VO LU M E 3 8 // I SS U E 6

REFLECTIONS by James Fox-Smith

NEWS & NOTEWORTHIES

26 29 31

Publisher

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEEKEEPERS

James Fox-Smith

In search of the perfect swarm by Jason Vowell

Associate Publisher

Ashley Fox-Smith

Managing Editor

BIRDING BLIND You can tell a lot about a bird by its song. by Catherine Schoefller Comeaux

Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

Arts & Entertainment Editor

Alexandra Kennon

THE GREEN PROJECT Almost thirty years of creative sustainability in New Orleans by Matt A. Sheen

On the Cover

Creative Director

Kourtney Zimmerman

Contributors:

Lucie Monk Carter, Catherine Schoeffler Comeaux, Denny Culbert, Ed Cullen, John Flores, Lorin Gaudin, Paul Kieu, Matt A. Sheen, Jason Vowell

OUR NATURAL WORLD

Cover Artist

Cover by Lucie Monk Carter

Lucie Monk Carter

A busy mother takes a breath in the carefully curated wildnerness of West Louisiana, examining the flowers that capture her four-year-old’s attention more closely, learning their names (page 50). A birding couple spend a winter entranced by a timberdoodle in their yard (43). A curious foodie holds a queen bee in his fingers (26). And a family opens their ears a little wider, hearing—really hearing, for the first time—the layers upon layers of birdsong right outside their backdoor (29). In our 2021 “Our Natural World” issue, our writers carve out time to focus in on, and wonder about, a few of the countless wonders making up the massive mysterious ecosystems of our region. How does a moth spend its brief two weeks of life? Can a bee near a blueberry farm produce a sweeter honey? What actually makes a Creole tomato superior to any old other tomato (34)? And finally, what happens when we, the oh-so-unnatural human being, enters into the picture? What do we bring? What do we take?

Cuisine

34

35 36

THE TRUTH ABOUT CREOLE TOMATOES This sun-ripened treat is more controversial than you think. by Lorin Gaudin

TOMATO PIE A cheesy, mayo-y take on Creole tomatoes by Alexandra Kennon

VESTAL Chef Ryan Trahan unveils his modern masterpiece in downtown Lafayette. by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

Culture

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42 43 45

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HISTORY’S A HELIX

ON OUR ISLAND

Jazz and freedom at the Kid Ory House

The Juneteenth Legacy Project is only one reason to visit Galveston this summer.

by Alexandra Kennon

REMEMBERING DR. ODENWALD A remarkable teacher leaves a legacy of beauty and growth behind him. by Kathryn Kearney

WINTERING WOODCOCK A timberdoodle spends a season in a subdivision. by John Flores

WHEN SUMMER COMES BACK AROUND An essay on the seasons by Ed Cullen

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Escapes

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by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

50 54

Advertising

SALES@COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM

Sales Team

Heather Gammill & Heather Gibbons

Custom Content Coordinator

Lauren Heffker

Advertising Coordinator

Kathryn Kearney

President

Dorcas Woods Brown

Country Roads Magazine 758 Saint Charles Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802 Phone (225) 343-3714 Fax (815) 550-2272 EDITORIAL@COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM WWW.COUNTRYROADSMAG.COM

Subscriptions 20 for 12 months 36 for 24 months

$

ALLEN ACRES A sensory exploration in West Louisiana by Lucie Monk Carter

PERSPECTIVES John Taylor: Guardian of the Wetlands by Lauren Heffker

$

ISSN #8756-906X

Copyrighted. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without permission of the publisher. The opinions expressed in Country Roads magazine are those of the authors or columnists and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor do they constitute an endorsement of products or services herein. Country Roads magazine retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Country Roads cannot be responsible for delays in subscription deliveries due to U.S. Post Office handling of third-class mail.


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Reflections FROM THE PUBLISHER

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n the May 2003 edition of Country Roads I started this “Reflections” column by acknowledging that I was about to break my cardinal rule of editorial column-writing, which hitherto had been to keep things light, not attempt to solve the world’s problems; and most of all, never to write sentimental drivel about babies. The reason for my break with tradition in that edition was that my wife and I had just welcomed our first child, and at the moment that she grasped my two pinkies in her tiny, tiny fists, it became abundantly clear to me that life was never going to be the same again. Now, eighteen years later almost to the day, my wife and I have just watched that same child graduate from high school, and I think I might be just about to break my cardinal rule again. Better writers than I have set out to capture the clamor of emotions that accompanies the process of letting go of your child’s hand as she takes her first steps into adulthood.

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I wonder whether any of them has ever gotten it completely. It’s as if all the moments of joy, fear, hope, frustration, heart-bursting pride, hand-wringing worry, rage, panic, mystification, and sheer wonder that have been competing for attention in your head since a nurse first placed this warm, damp creature into your arms, all come rushing back to take a victory lap at once. By any measure our daughter has lived a full, accomplished, and fortunate eighteen years thus far. She has worked hard, tried difficult things, leapt at opportunities, made a lot out of a little, been knocked down and gotten back up; and remained affectionate, kind, and funny while generally succeeding beyond her parents’ wildest imaginings. She has certainly shown herself to be smarter and more accomplished than said parents—qualities that have not escaped the notice of the admissions people at Harvard University (there, I said it). So, it is to Cambridge, Massachusetts, that our daughter is

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headed this fall—several worlds away from the rural upbringing, excellent public school education, and caring, tight-knit community, that prepared her for this dance. A common truism that new parents often hear from more seasoned ones is that the whole journey will be over in a second— that one day you’ll blink and they’ll be gone. I suppose that nothing generates truisms like a widely shared experience, since the more people who share an experience, the more likely it would seem they will agree on ways to describe it. Anyway, seeing the little creature we’ve so long nurtured, comforted,

read to, laughed with, coached, scolded, applauded, fretted over, picked up, dropped off, snapped at, apologized to, and been astonished by finally about to pack up all that we’ve poured into her, and start figuring out how to apply it out in the big wide world: this is the experience every parent of a departing child arrives at eventually. I guess we’ve reached the ‘blinking’ part. Or maybe it’s more like Ernest Hemingway’s famous answer when asked how he’d gone bankrupt. “Two ways:” he reportedly said, “gradually, then all at once.” If so, then the question I have for the more seasoned parents is: are we still in the ‘gradual’ bit? Or is this the ‘all-at-once?’ If it’s the former, then I’m glad to know we still have a few more years to savor this parenting thing. But if it’s the latter, maybe don’t say anything at all. James Fox-Smith, publisher —james@countryroadsmag.com


Celebrating the Arrival of America’s Greatest Artist/Naturalist with the

200 years ago this month, John J. Audubon arrived by steamboat to West Feliciana Parish to tutor the daughter of a local landowner — he quickly became mesmerized by the uniqueness of the landscape…

“I looked with amazement — such an entire change in so short a time appears often supernatural, and surrounded once more by thousands of warblers & thrushes, I enjoy Nature.” During his brief time at Oakley in West Feliciana Parish, Audubon completed no fewer than thirty-two of the pieces in his groundbreaking “Birds of America” series—more than in any other location.

COMING EVENTS June 18, 2021 - Memorial Dedication - John James Audubon Bicentennial Premiere 10 am • West Feliciana Historical Society Museum • 11757 Ferdinand Street • Free • All are Welcome September 17-18, 2021 - The Annual Inaugural John James Audubon Symposium LECTURES • WORKSHOPS • BIRDING TOURS • HISTORIC SITES • ST. FRANCISVILLE & SURROUNDS

September 18, 2021 - “AUDUBON UNDER THE OAKS" Gala 4 pm–7 pm • Audubon State Historic Site An elegant evening of fine Louisiana cuisine and refreshments served in the shadow of Oakley house, where Audubon painted 32 of the bird species highlighted in his famous Birds of America portfolio. Beautiful music and the camaraderie of old and new friends as you dine under majestic oak trees.

Tickets for Gala & Symposium are Limited and On Sale Now at

point your phone camera here #AudubonCountry

West Feliciana Tourist Commission www.explorewestfeliciana.com • 225-635-4224 • St. Francisville, LA

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Noteworthy

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N E W S , T I M E LY F A C T S , A N D O T H E R

CURIOSITIES

LO O K C LO S E R

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Frenchie on the Frontlines

JASON THERIOT’S PODCAST TELLS THE STORIES OF THE FRENCH-SPEAKING CAJUNS OF WORLD WAR II

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nyone who has spent much time in or around Acadiana has heard the stories of the young French-speaking Cajuns of the early and mid twentieth century who were forced to adhere to the 1921 “English only” policy in schools. Those who were caught speaking the language of their Acadian ancestors were often punished, resulting in generations of Cajuns who shirked their Louisiana French language and associated it with shame. Jason Theriot, a historian, consultant, and now podcaster, is telling very different stories about the Francophone Cajuns of the early twentieth century. Theriot has spent nearly two decades interviewing French-speaking Cajuns who served in World War II, whose

bilingual abilities proved massively helpful to the Allies in Europe and beyond. The resulting podcast Frenchie: The Story of the French-Speaking Cajuns of World War II is available on Spotify, Apple, and iHeart Radio; and will eventually be released in the form of a book, as well. “Frenchies was a name given to the World War II G.I.s who served in places like North Africa, New Caldonia, and certainly in France during World War II,” Theriot explained in an interview with the World War II Museum. Cajun soldiers who spoke French were given the nickname “Frenchies” by their comrades and superior officers. “If there was an officer who was in need of a French interpreter because he needed directions,

or he wanted to ask a local farmer some questions about where the German ‘pillboxes’ were located, they asked ‘Where’s Frenchie? Somebody bring me Frenchie up to the front line, I need him to interpret for me.” The result was a resurgence of pride in the Cajun language and culture, born from the knowledge that these men’s bilingual abilities were an asset to their country and the Allies as a whole. The idea was born from Theriot’s grandfather’s war stories—initially, Theriot planned to interview his grandfather and some of his veteran friends for a short book. His grandfather was hesitant at first. Theriot then pulled a list of Iberia Parish World War II Veterans and asked his grandfather if he knew anyone on it who might

be willing to be interviewed. By the following weekend, his grandfather had contacted dozens of his friends from the war and had them lined to tell their own stories about speaking Cajun French on the front lines—and that was just the beginning. Having grown up in New Iberia himself, Theriot makes an engaging and relatable host as he provides historical context alongside remastered oral history recordings from the veterans. When completed, his book by the same title as the podcast will be published by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press. Listen to the Frenchie Podcast on Spotify, Apple, iHeart Radio, or at jasontheriot.com. —Alexandra Kennon

The Ground I Grew Up On

AMERICAN IDOL’S LAINE HARDY IS LOUISIANA TOURISM’S NEWEST TRUE AMBASSADOR

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aine Hardy’s been busy. In 2018, the then-seventeenyear-old Livingston native auditioned for Season Sixteen of American Idol, making it to the top fifty contestants. When he accompanied his friend during her audition for Season Seventeen, he sang “Take a Load off Annie” on the way out, and Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie practically begged him to take the golden ticket to Hollywood. “It’s sitting right here,” Richie told him of his future. “This time, you’ve got a shot.” Perry told him, “You could win this one.” 8

Photo by Dustin Haney.

And, he did. Since then, he’s released five original singles—including “Ground I Grew Up On,” in which he croons: “Might look like nothin’ but gravel roads/ and tractors rollin’ over them fields/ and prayin’ that we get a little rain soon/ and cuttin’ loose in hand me down wheels/ and knockin’ them Friday night beers back/ by the train tracks and thinkin’ that/ I’d never miss this place when I got gone/ But that’s the ground I grew up on.” In the song’s music video, which is shot in Livingston, Hardy laughs with

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friends while loading an ice chest into a pickup truck, speeding down Louisiana waterways against cypress sunsets, and playing music on the front porch in his rubber boots. His other 2020 releases, “Tiny Town,” “Let There Be Country,” and “Other LA” are also inspired by Hardy’s childhood in South Louisiana. “I love it there,” Hardy told me of his hometown over Zoom mid-May, just a few days after the release of his latest single, “Memorize You” and a return guest appearance on Idol. “Life there is just so gentle.” Earlier in May, Hardy’s passion for his home state earned him the designation as a True Ambassador of Louisiana, an honor awarded by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. He’ll be the new face of the Louisiana Office of Tourism’s “Louisiana is a Trip” campaign, an initiative designed to encourage locals to make the most of our vibrant state’s experiences through close-to-home attractions and road trips. Hardy told me he was excited to share the gospel of Louisiana tourism, especially when it comes to outdoor excursions, “and the food!” “Food’s number one,” he said. “But the music, the fishing, the people. Louisiana has good, good people.” As for his favorite

Louisiana experience? “Grand Isle. The fishing charters are incredible. Catching red fish and drum. It’s just a true Louisiana experience.” After completing his 2020 “Ground I Grew Up On” tour entirely virtually, Hardy is excited to be performing live once again, and is visiting a new city virtually every week until September. On June 5, he’ll be returning to Louisiana for the Salty Catch Trout Shootout & Concert at the Lake Charles Civic Center, which will benefit disaster relief efforts in Louisiana. As we spoke, people in Lake Charles were at that very moment looking out over a flooded city, preparing themselves to rebuild again after an impossible year. “I’m looking forward to being able to go back home, especially to Lake Charles, which has struggled so much in recent months,” said Hardy. “I’m happy to be able to go there in person, and to hopefully lift some spirits.” As he gears up for a year of travel and music, Hardy said he is happy to have another tie to Louisiana as a True Ambassador. “To be able to get this honor is just really crazy to even process,” he said. “But I’m going to take Louisiana with me everywhere I go.” —Jordan LaHaye Fontenot


The Southern Jewish Experience NOLA’S NEWEST MUSEUM TELLS STORIES OF THIS REGION’S THRIVING JEWISH COMMUNITIES

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The original of two Jewish parading organizations in New Orleans, Krewe du Jieux became famous for their satire and decorated bagels.Courtesy of the MJSE.

tepping inside the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience (MSJE) in New Orleans, which opened in late May, visitors familiar with other major American Jewish museums—the Breman Museum in Atlanta, The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum—will find that a very different experience awaits. “We believe we’re the only museum with a pure focus on telling the history of Jews across the South,” explained Jay Tanenbaum. The born-and-raised Southerner, now living in Atlanta, is the Chairman of the MSJE Board, and he has been involved with the project to build a museum to the Southern Jewish experience, literally, since his childhood. As a youth growing up in Dumas, Arkansas, Tanenbaum had an experience shared by many of the approximately 1.2 million Jews living across the American South, which was attending one of the network of Jewish summer camps established to foster a sense of continuity among the widely scattered members of the oldest Abrahamic faith. Tanenbaum attended the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, Mississippi, where the original Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience opened in 1986 with a mission of supporting the preservation of Jewish culture in the Deep South. By 2000, faced with the declining size of Jewish institutions in Southern towns, the MSJE had evolved to become the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL), and had become an important source of Judaic services and cultural programs to Jewish communities across a thirteenstate Southern region. In 2012, when the Jacobs Camp closed its doors, camp alumnus Jay Tanenbaum, serving as Chairman of the ISJL at the time, launched a search to find a new home for the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience. Nine years later, New Orleans is that home. Asked to describe what sets the MSJE apart from other Jewish museums,

Tanenbaum pointed to the different patterns of settlement among the Jewish communities it represents. “When you compare the stories of Southern Jewish communities with the more typical story of Jews coming to the United States, the whole experience is different,” he said. Tanenbaum explained that Jews settling in large cities like New York, Chicago, or Baltimore—where large Jewish communities already existed— often joined enclaves, where there were already synagogues, kosher butchers, and a community of people who understood their customs and traditions. “It was easier to continue to practice Judaism the way they had before. So even if it wasn’t a matter of observance, in those cities Jews lived and associated with each other.” “But in the South, when Jews came, they might have been the only, or one of the only, Jewish families in a community. So, they went and lived among their Christian neighbors. They assimilated, were respected, became successful, and remained Jewish,” he said. How Southern Jews managed to retain their identity and assimilate, while proudly living lives with Jewish values: that is the question the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience sets out to explore. For visitors, exploration takes shape across nine thousand square feet of exhibit space crafted by the worldrenowned design firm Gallagher & Associates, creators of the exhibits at the National WWII Museum, the National Archives, and the National Museum of American Jewish History. Working with some four thousand artifacts including Judaica, household items, business records, photographs, letters, and other ephemera, museum staff and a corps of thirty historians, writers, and rabbis have created interactive exhibits that engage, educate, and entertain. “That’s the theme of the museum: America welcomed immigrants against a difficult history,” Tanenbaum said. “People went to these places in the Bible Belt, where you might imagine it would be a very different story. And were successful. It’s demonstrative of what should happen in America.” He continued, “There are hundreds of towns across the South where this is the same story: Jews came to town, built the communities together with—not apart from—other members. They built strong relationships. We want people to think about their own background and culture, and the people they know who are different from them. And how these different threads form the fabric of America.” msje.org —James Fox-Smith

E H L

B Q L  R 1818   7      5 . 1358 John A. Quitman Blvd., Natchez 601.442.5852 MonmouthHistoricInn.com // J U N E 2 1

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Events

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CHEERS

TO

SUMMER

FUN. HUG YOUR

S U N S H I N E ST U F F

FESTIVALS, CONCERTS, ART SHOWS, AND MORE

FRIENDS, TIP

THE

REAL LIFE

BANDS, AND DON’T FORGET SUNSCREEN.

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Armad Rickmon (center) of the Money Wasters social aid and pleasure club takes to the streets in 2016. The photograph by Charles Muir Lovell can be viewed in The Historic New Orleans Collection’s exhibition “Dancing in the Streets: Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs of New Orleans” through June 13, 2021, at 520 Royal Street in the French Quarter. (THNOC, 2019.0393.8)

UNTIL JUN

6th

SUMMER FESTIVALS CAJUN HEARTLAND STATE FAIR Lafayette, Louisiana

The Cajun Heartland State Fair returns to the Cajundome. Experience the thrill of the Midway, enjoy free entertainment by the World of Wonders and Dinosaur Adventures, and feed your Cajun soul with a stroll through Lagniappe Lane to the Crawfish Village with delicious fair food, market vendors, and live music daily. cajundome.com. k

UNTIL JUN

6th

DESIGN EXHIBITIONS THE ART OF SEATING Baton Rouge, Louisiana

What, after all, is a chair? A place at the family table, a worksite, a plush refuge as evening descends, a symbol of power. In the LSU Museum of Art’s exhibition The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design, the seat becomes the centerpiece. Selections from the Thomas H. And Diane DeMell Jacobsen Ph.D. Foundation present a journey of furniture design

going back to the mid-1800s, featuring showstoppers by John Henry Belter, George Hunzinger, the Herter Brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, and many more. Viewers can also peruse contemporary and historic designs by some of the country’s most recognizable manufacturers, including Knoll, Herman Miller, and Steelcase. A standout in the collection is an 1857 House of Representatives Chamber Arm Chair designed by Thomas U. Walter, which is an example of the chairs used in the halls of Congress, recognizable from portraits of leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. The exhibition will be supplemented by a special exhibition feature from the LSU Museum of Art’s permanent collection, which will expand the period of chair design to the eighteenth century’s Rococo and Baroque periods. lsumoa.org. k

UNTIL

JUN 13th

CULTURE EXHIBITIONS DANCING IN THE STREETS New Orleans, Louisiana

The cultural phenomenon of second line parades has become synonymous with

New Orleans. The Historic New Orleans Collection, in partnership with more than thirty local community partners and club members, is bringing them to life in this comprehensive exhibition. Black mutual aid societies, also known as social aid and pleasure clubs, were founded in the nineteenth century as a support network for African Americans at a time when they were denied many social services, and are a staple of New Orleans community and culture. Second line parades are one of the most vibrant and iconic traditions of such organizations. Free. hnoc.org. k

UNTIL

JUN 19th

FLOWER POWER MID CITY IN BLOOM Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Each year Elizabethan Gallery opens its doors for its annual spring art show, Mid City in Bloom. This year, join many of the Gallery’s artists who will be mingling and discussing their work. Enjoy refreshments, chat with artists, and maybe pick up a piece of art. elizabethangallery.com. k // J U N E 2 1

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Events

Beginning June 1st UNTIL JUN

20th

ART EXHIBITIONS ARTE SACRE New Orleans, Louisiana

Enjoy the outdoor fun!

An intriguing and dense product of sixteenth century colonialism, a devotion to the Roman Catholic faith has interwoven itself into the culture of Goa in western India. The cultural exchanges between Portuguese and Spanish missionaries and the local peoples resulted in a body of religious art that is simultaneously distinctly European and distinctly Goan. The New Orleans Museum of Art presents an exhibition of such artifacts—paintings, sculpture, and devotional objects replicating the saints, apostles, the Virgin Mary, Christ, and angels. noma.org. k

UNTIL JUN

20th

ART EXHIBITIONS THE PURSUIT OF SALVATION New Orleans, Louisiana

In Jain art, the faith’s founders, the Jinas (or conquerers), are always represented in one of two ways: seated in meditation, or standing in the kayotsarga (body abandonment) pose—a visualization of the Jina’s liberation from human attachments and emotion. Such freedom is the goal of Jainism, an ancient Indian religion that focuses on ending the cycles of rebirth and attaining liberation from all suffering. In the New Orleans Museum of Art’s exhibition The Pursuit of Salvation: Jain Art from India, visitors will examine this ideal through artwork created over a period of more than fifteen hundred years, including sculptures, paintings, and manuscripts. noma.org. k

UNTIL JUN

24th

ART EXHIBITIONS PLACES I REMEMBER New Orleans, Louisiana

LeMieux Galleries presents Places I Remember, a group show of landscapes curated by Gallery co-owner/Director Christy Wood. lemieuxgalleries.com. k

UNTIL JUN

26th

PHOTO SHOWS LIVINGSTON PARISH PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT Denham Springs, Louisiana

8592 Hwy 1, Mansura, LA 800.833.4195 travelavoyelles.com 12

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The Arts Council of Livingston Parish will host a photography exhibit at the Arts Council Gallery in Denham Springs. Come see what the Livingston Parish shutterbugs have been capturing. Wednesday–Friday 10 am–noon, Saturday 10 am–2 pm. 133 Hummell St. (225) 664-1168 or artslivingston.org. k

UNTIL JUN

26th

ART EXHIBITIONS SHE PERSISTED: LOUISIANA WOMEN IN ART Alexandria, Louisiana

In celebration of the centennial of women gaining the right to vote with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, the Alexandria Museum of Art’s exhibition She Persisted opened during the 2021 International Women’s Day Celebration. She Persisted showcases artworks by nationally acclaimed and lesser-known female artists in Louisiana who have persevered in the male-favored art world. themuseum.org. k

UNTIL JUN

26th

PHOTO SHOWS 40 CHANCES: FINDING HOPE IN A HUNGRY WORLD Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Investor Warren Buffett’s son Howard G. Buffet has traveled the world, and in over 137 countries he photographed the individuals and circumstances surrounding world hunger and poverty. The resulting images are now featured in 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, which Buffett hopes will shed light and bring awareness to the pressing issue of global hunger. louisianaoldstatecapitol.org. k

UNTIL JUN

28th

SUMMER FESTIVALS NATCHEZ FESTIVAL OF MUSIC Natchez, Mississippi

Every May since 1991, the Natchez Festival of Music has been making Mississippi musical, staging a month-long whirlwind of operas, operettas, Broadway musicals, jazz, and special concerts in historic venues around the city. Find the schedule of events and tickets at natchezfestivalofmusic.com. k

UNTIL JUN

30th

CULTURE EXHIBITIONS ACADIAN BROWN COTTON: THE FABRIC OF ACADIANA Lafayette, Louisiana

Coton jaune, or Acadian brown cotton, is one of the heirlooms the Nova Scotian exiles inherited. An important facet of the region’s agricultural, economic, and anthropological history, brown cotton’s relics are today being reconsidered as revered cultural totems, and in some cases works of art. A landmark exhibition synthesizing Continued on page 14....


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Events

Beginning June 1st - June 3rd the crop’s influences from soil to craft to textiles, the Hilliard’s Acadian Brown Cotton: The Fabric of Acadiana is the most comprehensive project on the subject to date. Visitors will explore the genealogical value of passing craft from mother to daughter, they will learn about the process of weaving and the economic conditions of the region that spurred a revitalization of brown cotton weaving over the last century. For the first time, The Hilliard has made this exhibition available virtually. Take a tour of the virtual gallery space or learn with The Hilliard’s educators at hilliardmuseum.org. k

UNTIL

AUG 7th

ART EXHIBITIONS EXHIBITS AT THE MANSUR Monroe, Louisiana

The Mansur Museum welcomes two new exhibitions of powerful Southern art: Letitia Huckaby’s Parish and Lisa Quails’ Southern Portraits. Huckaby’s exhibition draws from much of her broad-spanning multi-media career, including portraits taken in rural Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi framed in embroidery hoops; while Quails’ detailed graphite portraits take a very different

approach to documenting the legacy of a Southern family. masurmuseum.org. k

UNTIL

AUG 31

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CREATIVE COMPETITION LOUISIANA SCENIC RIVERS ART FESTIVAL Folsom, Louisiana

A new juried art exhibit commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Program is coming to Far Horizons Art Gallery in Folsom: the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Art Festival. The artists have drawn inspiration from the natural scenery along the three thousand miles of water protected by the Louisiana Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. farhorizonsart.com. k

UNTIL OCT

2nd

ART EXHIBITIONS TRANSCOMMUNALITY New Orleans, Louisiana

Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University is officially reopened to the public with the exhibition Transcommunality, which features the varied work of multi-disciplinary artist Laura Anderson Barbata. Born

in Mexico and currently based in New York, Anderson Barbata’s work engages a wide ranging audience about issues of cultural diversity and sustainability, with a unique blend of street theatre, sculpture, political activism, and arts education. Overarching themes of reciprocal respect, collaboration, and preservation of indigenous knowledge weave their way through Transcommunality, and the exhibition, “offers a space to contemplate ritual, folklore and the impact of the natural environment on culture.” Free. Timed tickets are available for registration at newcombartmuseum.tulane.edu.  k

JUN 1 - JUN 29 st

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KID STUFF THE DINOSAUR EXPERIENCE Livingston, Louisiana

Everyone knows at least one little kid who has selected their specialized interest as the earth’s prehistoric giants, who can pronounce things like “Archaeopteryx” with hardly a blink. Well, grab him and her and all their friends too. Because Livingston Parish Libraries is welcoming Nash the Dino and his trainer for special meet and greets all summer long. See below for expected sightings this month: June 1: Denham Springs-Walker Branch, 9 am–3:30 pm. June 29: Main Branch in Livingston,

9 am–3:30 pm. Free. mylpl.info. k

JUN 1st - JUN 30th

GOOD EATS CAJUN COAST RESTAURANT MONTH Morgan City, Louisiana

Revel in going out again by trying one of over fifteen restaurants with special offers for St. Mary Parish’s Restaurant Month. cajuncoast.com. k

JUN 1st - JUN 30th

GOOD EATS A TASTE OF COVINGTON Covington, Louisiana

The Northshore’s favorite month returns for its tenth year: A Taste of Covington gives locals and visitors alike the perfect opportunity to really dig into Covington’s vibrant culinary scene. Tuesdays–Fridays throughout the month, enjoy special four (or more) course vintner dinners at restaurants like Seiler Bar, Ox Lot 9, Pyre Provisions, and more. All dinners require reservations, and begin at 6:30 pm. Special events include the Festa del Vino Wine Tasting on June 19 at the St. Tammany Arts Association ($75; 7 pm); the Grand Wine Tasting on June 26 at Bogue Falaya Park (7 pm; $65); and the Champagne Brunch on

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J U N E 2 1 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M

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June 27 at Pyre Provisions (10 am and 1 pm; $50). atasteofcovington.com. k

JUN

3rd - JUN 10th

LIVE MUSIC CONCERTS AT LA DIVINA Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Gelato, panini (or paninis, for you American types), and the frequent injections of heart and soul from Baton Rouge’s singersongwriter enclave? Divine doesn’t even begin to cut it. Look forward to live music throughout the month, with Fridays being home to the “Original Music Gathering” hosted by Donald Gelpi, where up-andcomers can bring their original songs and sign up for a chance to play two to three songs on a first-come-first-served basis. Here’s the live music that will accompany your dining at La Divina Italian Café in the coming weeks: June 3: Steve Levine June 5: Randolph Thomas June 10: Clay Parker and Jodi James 6 pm–8 pm. Free. facebook.com/ ladivinabatonrouge. k

JUN 3rd - JUN 11th

STEPPIN’ OUT ALICE IN WONDERLAND Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Fall down the rabbit hole with the Baton

Rouge Ballet Theatre Youth Ballet’s in-person community tour, featuring a brief, spirited production of Alice in Wonderland. Though the performances are only thirty minutes each, they’re packed with fun choreography and favorite characters like the White Rabbit and Queen of Hearts, telling a childhood classic through dance. There will be fundraiser performances June 5 at 11:30 am and 12:45 pm to offset the costs of the tour, with several other performances around the Baton Rouge area. $5 per child (ages fourteen and younger) and $10 per adult. For the full schedule and tickets, visit batonrougeballet.org. k

JUN

3rd

- JUN

17th

FLOWER POWER EAST BATON ROUGE MASTER GARDENERS LIBRARY TALKS Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Join the East Baton Rouge Parish Master Gardeners for their 2021 Library series this June. On June 3 at the Carver Branch Library, join Claire Fontenot for a workshop on Gardening Basics and Lyn Hakeem for a lesson on Raised Bed Gardening. Then, on June 17 at the Zachary Branch, Bob Dillemuth will demonstrate techniques for caring for native f lowering shrubs, accompanied by Kerry Hawkins, who

Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University is officially reopened to the public with the exhibition Transcommunality, which features the varied work of multi-disciplinary artist Laura Anderson Barbata. Image courtesy of the Newcomb Art Museum.

LOCATED AT BURDEN MUSEUM AND GARDENS OPEN DAILY 8:00–5:00 • I-10 AT ESSEN LANE, BATON ROUGE, LA FOR MORE INFO CALL (225) 765-2437 OR VISIT WWW.RURALLIFE.LSU.EDU

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Events

Beginning June 4th - June 5th will teach on native and commercial soils, fertilizer basics, and other additive options. Free. 5:30 pm. ebrmg.com. k

JUN

4th

COMMUNITY FIRST FRIDAY FOLSOM GIDDY UP COMMUNITY BREAKFAST Folsom, Louisiana

Come on out for a tasty breakfast and a fun conversation engaging your community at Giddy Up’s Community Breakfast, the first Friday of each month. Complimentary coffee, donuts, muffins, and networking will be provided. June’s breakfast will feature guest speaker Sheriff Randy Smith. 8 am–10 am. Come back at 5:30 pm for music in the paddock. giddyupfolsom.com. k

JUN

4th

LIVE MUSIC LOUISIANA CROSSROADS 20TH ANNIVERSARY: HOMECOMING Lafayette, Louisiana

For two decades now Louisiana Crossroads has been providing an intimate look at the music careers of some of our state’s

most influential artists. Stars from Anders Osborne, to Marcia Ball, to Irma Thomas have been featured in the past; this year promises an all-star lineup including Givers, Wayne Toups, Chubby Carrier, Yvette Landry, Lance Dubroc, Julie Williams, Ray Boudreaux, Clay Cormier and the Highway Boys, Dustin Sonnier, Keith Blair, Smoov Ras, Julie Williams, and more surprise guests. 7:30 pm–9:30 pm. Tickets start at $35. acadianacenterforthearts.org. k

JUN 4th - JUN 5th

SUMMER FESTIVALS HOGS FOR THE CAUSE

The works of forty-five artists inspired by the beauty of Pointe Coupée Parish will be displayed at the Julien Poydras Museum in New Roads as part of the annual Treasures of Pointe Coupée exhibition. Pictured is 2019 Judge’s Choice “ Marsh Morning” by local artist Terry Vought.

Belle Chase, Louisiana

Hogs for the Cause is back this year at a new location on fifteen acres just fifteen minutes from downtown New Orleans in Belle Chasse. Hogs is an annual finger-lickin’ fundraising festival where eighty-plus teams of barbecue competitors, comprised of some of the region’s top chefs, professional barbecue teams, and backyard cooking fanatics, will compete for the “High on the Hog” Grand Champion Title. The event also features live music with a stellar line-up of regional musicians,

all to provide aid and relief to families whose children are being treated for pediatric brain cancer. $69 per day; $130 two-day pass. hogsforthecause.org. k

JUN 4th - JUN 6th

SUMMER FESTIVALS INDEPENDENCE SICILIAN HERITAGE FESTIVAL

residents of Independence. At the fest, held downtown, you can make-a spaghetti, and eat-a spaghetti, and even toss-a the meat balls (as far as you possibly can! Yes, we’re talking about a meatball throwing contest, friends.) Carnival rides, arts & crafts, a St. Joseph’s altar, live music, pageantry, and much more to look forward to

Independence, Louisiana

for one of the first fests to return this

Celebrate all things Sicilian with the

summer. And don’t miss the main

summer of

CERAMICS FORM & FIRE: American Studio Ceramics from the E. John Bullard Collection THE BONEYARD: The Ceramics Teaching Collection

JULY 8 – OCTOBER 17

Two exhibitions showcasing the ceramic art of teaching, creating, and collecting | lsumoa.org 16

J U N E 2 1 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M


event—it’s been far too long since we’ve had a parade. Catch it at 10 am on June 5. indysicilianfest.com. k

JUN

4th

- JUN

6th

GET SPORTY THE NATCHEZ OPEN Natchez, Mississippi

Calling all golfers and golf-enthusiasts: the only open pro golf event held in the State of Mississippi is back in swing. First place for the pro division is a minimum of four thousand dollars, and maximum USGA prizes are awarded in amateur flight. Hosted by Certified Golf Course Superintendent Gregory Brooking, and rules officiating by nationally renowned USGA official Tommy Snell. Entry fee $300 for professionals, $200 for amateurs. 8 am–5 pm. visitnatchez.org. k

JUN

4th

- JUN

ART EXHIBITIONS TREASURES OF POINTE COUPÉE

13th

New Roads, Louisiana

To the Julien Poydras Museum comes this eleventh annual art extravaganza. Forty-five artists have been busy creating work inspired by Pointe Coupée Parish, and the results will take over the museum for viewers to peruse over two weekends. Don’t miss additional arts-related activities, including adult and youth art workshops (for a small charge), an Arts Market, Conversations with the Artist programs, a treasure hunt, a Petite Gallerie display, and more. artscouncilofpointecoupée.org. k

JUN

4th

- JUN

13th

MUSICAL THEATRE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS Mandeville, Louisiana

Meek flower shop assistant Seymour pines for co-worker Audrey in 30 by Ninety’s production of the horror rock musical comedy. During a total eclipse, Seymour discovers Audrey II (whom he names for his cute coworker); the unusual plant feeds only on human f lesh and blood. The growing plant attracts a great deal of business for the previously struggling store. After Seymour feeds Audrey’s boyfriend, Orin, to Audrey II after Orin’s accidental death, he must come up with more bodies for the increasingly bloodthirsty plant. Add three sassy loud-mouthed street kids, and the owner of Skid Row’s worst f lorist. Shows at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with 2:30 pm matinees offered on Saturdays and Sundays. $29; $27 for seniors and military; $25 for students. 30byninety.com. k

JUN

4th

- JUN

LAUGH OUT LOUD THE SUMMER OF COMEDY SERIES

25th

Lafayette, Louisiana

Lafayette Comedy has vowed to keep Acadiana cracking up all summer long, with performances regularly at both the Wurst Biergarten and Club 337. The lineup of performers is as follows: June 4: Sam Tallent (Wurst Biergarten) June 18: Tom Thakkar (Wurst Biergarten) June 11: Shane Torres (Club 337) June 19: Sean Patton (Club 337) June 25: Ms. Pat (Club 337) For showtimes and tickets, visit lafayettecomedy.com. k

JUN

4th

- JUN

26th

LIVE MUSIC GROOVIN’ ON THE GRASS Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Bring a blanket to sit on and/or your dancing shoes for Red Stick Social’s Groovin’ on the Grass outdoor concert series. Bring the dog too—it’s even pet friendly. Lineups are on Red Stick Social’s Facebook page. 8 pm every Friday or Saturday. redsticksocial.com. k

JUN

4th

- JUL

9th

ART EXHIBITIONS CIRCULATE: PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURES BY DIRK GUIDRY Hammond, Louisiana

Rediscover yourself, your relationship with art, and your relationship with those you enjoy art with by taking in the boundary-free paintings and sculptures of Dirk Guidry at the Hammond Regional Arts Center. Works by Baton Rouge artist Samara Thomas will be on display in the Mezzanine Gallery. hammondarts.org. k

JUN

5th

5713 Superior Drive, Suite B-1 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816

LAUGH OUT LOUD THE ROYAL COMEDY TOUR Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Queen of Comedy, Sommore, is set to rule the stage hosting alongside a slew of comedy’s funniest entertainers including Lavell Crawford and Earthquake during the Royal Comedy Tour, coming to the Raising Cane’s River Center. 7 pm. Tickets begin at $59. raisingcanesrivercenter.com. k

JUN 5th

SHOPPING SPREES CLINTON COMMUNITY MARKET Clinton, Louisiana

Head to Clinton’s historic Courthouse Square for handmade goods, plants, // J U N E 2 1

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Events

JUN 5th & JUN 19th

LIVE MUSIC JAZZ’N THE VINES CONCERTS

Beginning June 5 - June 8 th

baked goods, and much more. This month, the market will host the “Cruisin’ Clinton Truck and Car Show”. 8 am–noon. For more information, call (225) 405-8286. k

JUN

5

th

& JUN

12

th

KID STUFF GRANDMOTHER MARGUERITE’S TRUNK

th

Bush, Louisiana

JUN 5th

GREEN THUMBS MID CITY SEED & PLANT SWAP Baton Rouge, Louisiana

From okra, to peppers, to eggplant, get your heat-loving plants going for the summer with the help of Baton Rouge gardeners at this Mid City event. 9 am–noon. Check Facebook for more information. k

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Grab your kids and travel back in time on a whimsical journey with Grandmother Marguerite at Old City Hall in Denham Springs. Linda Collins brings Grandmother Marguerite to life in her one woman show, volleying between different characters in period costumes, teaching kids a lesson in Louisiana history with an interactive performance so fun they won’t realize they’re learning. Here are the performance themes for June: June 5: Farm Family 1880s (ages six– twelve) June 12: Colonial Louisiana (ages eight and older). denhamspringsantiquedistrict.net. k

JUN

5th

- JUN

6th

CULTURE EDUCATION CREOLE CULTURE DAY Lafayette, Louisiana

This year’s Creole Culture Day at Vermilionville is expanding into a two day event, offering ample opportunity to celebrate and explore the nuanced history and evolution of the Louisiana Creole community. There will be kids’ crafts and activities, cooking demonstrations, examples of healing traditions, visual art exhibits, discussions of Creole cowboy trails, information on genealogy and language, and more. 10 am–5 pm. Free. vermilionville.org. k

Throw it back and tap your toes to vintage classics and original tunes with this concert series at Pontchartrain Vineyards. Here’s the latest lineup: June 5: Samuel Ray Warren as Ray Charles June 19: Pine Leaf Boys 6:30 pm–9 pm. $10; ages seventeen and younger free. pontchartrainvineyards.com. k

JUN 5th - JUN 26th

KNOWING NATURE SMITHSONIAN TRAVELING EXHIBITION: WATER/WAYS Thibodaux, Louisiana

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center is excited to welcome a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian called Water/Ways, exploring the ways water impacts environment and culture. The exhibition will be open each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 am–4 pm throughout June, with special events each Saturday: June 5: Friends of Bayou LaFourche Boat Parade, 10 am–noon

June 12: Water in Art, 10 am–noon June 19: Birding in the Water, 9 am–11 am June 26: Family Water Discovery Day, 10 am–noon nps.gov/jela. k

JUN

5th - JUN 26th

LIVE MUSIC CHANTEUSE: CELEBRATING NEW ORLEANS WOMEN IN MUSIC New Orleans, Louisiana

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is celebrating New Orleans women in music with a six-week concert series called Chanteuse at The George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center on N. Rampart Street. The lineup is as follows, from 7 pm–8:30 pm each Saturday (doors at 6 pm): June 5: Caren Green June 12: Cyrille Aimée June 19: Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph June 26: Maggie Koerner jazzandheritage.org/events. k

JUN 5th - JUN 26th SUMMER FESTIVALS FESTIVALSOUTH Hattiesburg, Mississippi

From Broadway, to Motown, to opera, to ballet, and any genre in between, FestivalSouth in Hattiesburg offers something for every lover of music and

HOMETOWN CELEBRATION

Sunday, July 4th, 5:00PM to 9:00PM Plaquemine Bayou Waterfront Park Join us for fireworks, food, crafts, and a boat parade.

#WorldsSm

allestChurc

#Destinatio

nDining

#Plaquemin

LEARN MORE AT VISITIBERVILLE.COM 18

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eLocks

h


the arts. This year the performances are available in person as well as via livestream, making for a cultural “choose your own adventure”: enjoy from the theatre, or from your sofa. The lineup is packed and varied, check it out and find tickets at festivalsouth.org. k

JUN

5th

30th

- JUN

ART EXHIBITIONS PASTURES AND PADDOCKS New Orleans, Louisiana

Take in Mitch Overby’s serene, light-filled impressionistic scenes of Northshore grazing pastures and landscapes at Gallery 600 Julia’s June exhibition. There will be an opening reception from 4 pm–7 pm. gallery600julia.com. k

JUN

5th

3rd

- JUL

ART EXHIBITIONS EAT THE ANTHROPOCENE WITH CESAR & LOIS, MYCELIA AND FRIEND ENTITIES Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Starting their residency with Yes We Cannibal arts collective this month, Cesar Baio and Lucy HG Solomon— who make up Cesar & Lois—will explore the connections within our ecosystems, creating artwork with microorganisms and technological networks. In this exhibition: “Books become substrates for other logical pathways, and texts are rewritten, written over, and eaten. New intelligence emerges. Connections across microbiological organisms offer potential new forms for thinking.” During their time in Baton Rouge, the duo will collaborate with local mycologists and forage around the region. Bringing together technologies like AI and the emerging forces of mushrooms, Cesar & Lois explore our coexistence with other species, and imagine how those connections might shape our day to day technologies. An opening reception is to be held June 5 from 5 pm–7 pm. yeswecannibal.org. k

JUN

5th

- SEP

3rd

ART EXHIBITIONS ART BY BOURGEOIS Port Allen, Louisiana

Gonzales native Douglas Bourgeois creates small-scale, figurative oil paintings that draw from pop culture in vidid and creative ways. Since earning his B.F.A. from LSU, Bourgeois has had work displayed in over a dozen solo exhibitions since the 1970s, and has garnered wide respect in and out of the art world. There will be an opening “Meet the Artist” reception and talk on June 6 at 2:30 pm. westbatonrougemuseum.com. k

JUN 6th

SUMMER FESTIVALS SLIDELL FAMILY FUN FEST OUTDOOR MARKET Slidell, Louisiana

Throw all the kids in the car and head out to Slidell this weekend for The Art Box’s Family Fun Fest. Look forward to food, face painting, games and prizes, local vendors, snowballs, and plenty of photo ops. 10 am–4 pm. Free. Details at The Art Box Slidell LLC Facebook Page. k

JUN 6th - JUN 30th ART EXHIBITIONS LOUISIANA STORIES Baton Rouge, Louisiana

During June, the Main Library at Goodwood’s entryway will feature a special exhibition from the Contemporary Fiber Artists of Louisiana, in which members will showcase works directly tied to our state’s culture and history. In conjunction with the opening of the exhibit, the library will host a free reception in the Large Meeting Room on June 6 from 3 pm–5 pm. Artists will be present to answer questions about their creative processes, techniques, and inspiration. contemporaryfiberartistsofla.com. k

JUN 8th

LIVE MUSIC RIVER CITY JAZZ MASTERS: STEPHANIE JORDAN

COME FEST

WITH US

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Dynamic Jazz singer Stephanie Jordan will conclude the 2021 River City Jazz Masters concert series with an outdoor performance on the River Terrace at the Shaw Center. 7:30 pm. $45. manshitheatre.org. k

JUN

8th

- JUN

13th

GOOD EATS NEW ORLEANS WINE & FOOD EXPERIENCE New Orleans, Louisiana

What began as a one-day meetingof-the-minds between winemakers and chefs a couple decades ago has mushroomed into a grand celebration of wine and food that attracts tens of thousands of people to New Orleans to worship before these twin deities. This year’s Food & Wine Experience offers Wine Dinners hosted by New Orleans area restaurants; Vinola fine wine tastings; a Tournament of Rosés; the Ella Brennan “Stand Up For Your Hometown” Awards at the Rib Room; and culinary seminars which will fill the days and nights with all things culinary and oenological. Combination packages and full experience tickets available. nowfe.com. k

#LANorthshore

JUNE IS A TIME OF CELEBRATION We celebrate everything in St. Tammany Parish, one hour from Baton Rouge. Mark your calendar and plan a weekend getaway for these exciting upcoming events.

June 1-30: A Taste of Covington June 5 & 19: Jazz’n the Vines Concert at Pontchartrain Vineyards June 13: Chef Soiree at Bogue Falaya Wayside Park & Pavilion June 13: Fleur de Lis Event Center Bridal Show June 19: Father’s Day Fishing Rodeo at Sunset Point Fishing Pier June 19-20: Float Fest 2021 at Louisiana River Adventures Recurring Fri.-Sun., June 5-20: Little Shop of Horrors, the Musical at 30 by Ninety Theatre June 30: Up Close & Musical Lounge at the Harbor Center

1-800-634-9443 • www.LouisianaNorthshore.com/cr

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Events

JUN

Beginning June 9th - June 12th JUN

9th

LOCAL HISTORY THE FRENCH QUARTER’S RAINBOW HERITAGE New Orleans, Louisiana

Everyone knows that the French Quarter’s heritage is storied and colorful, but fewer realize that it has a particularly rich LGBTQA+ history. Learn about topics ranging from gay men’s role in preserving the Quarter’s architecture to the Upstairs Lounge Fire with historian and writer Frank Perez at the Hermann-Grima House. 6 pm. Free. Find more information on Facebook. k

JUN

10th

LIVE MUSIC LOST BAYOU RAMBLERS Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Happily, the Manship Theatre has access to one of the best spots in Baton Rouge from which to watch a sunset. The Manship’s new Sunset Series brings talented musicians to the Shaw Center’s Fourth Floor River Terrace for a special outdoor concert experience. Next up for June is the Grammy Award-winning Cajun band, the Lost Bayou Ramblers. Doors open at

20

6:30 pm. $38. manshiptheatre.org. k

JUN

11

th

LIVE MUSIC LOUISIANA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA ORPHEUM SESSIONS Online

The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is releasing another high-quality, pre-recorded concert from the Orpheum Theatre in New Orleans to be enjoyed from home. This one features music by Dave Anderson, Vivian Fung, and Ludwig Van Beethoven. 7 pm. $15. lpomusic.com. k

JUN

11th

LIVE MUSIC JAZZ LISTENING ROOM SERIES Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Arts Council of Baton Rouge’s Jazz Listening Room is a series of intimate cabaret-style jazz concerts featuring nationally and internationally known acts. This month, see Betsy Braud at the outdoor stage at Chorum Hall. 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20 at bontempstix.com; details at artsbr.org. k

J U N E 2 1 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M

11th

LAUGH OUT LOUD SOCIALLY DISTANCED SPOOF NIGHT! WITH INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Join Baton Rouge’s The Family Dinner Comedy Troupe for an interactive movie experience, poking fun at Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Enjoy live commentary, skits, and interactive games for laughs and a drink or two. Rated R; guests younger than sixteen require accompanying parent or guardian. 7:30 pm. $11. manshiptheatre.org. k

JUN

12th

KID STUFF GARDEN DISCOVERIES SERIES: BE A BEE! Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Join the Baton Rouge Botanic Garden Foundation for its”Garden Discoveries” series at the Main Library. This month Kevin Langley of the Capital Area Beekeepers Association will lead a hands-on program that allows children to look inside part of a real beehive, dress up in junior beekeepers’ outfits, and learn all about how bees collect honey. Families will be invited to explore the Botanic Garden with Buzzy the Bee and Beekeepers in search of flowers with pollen. Before heading home, each

participant will get a chance to taste three local honeys and select their favorite. Ages seven–ten. Also available for viewing on Facebook Live. Free. 10 am. If you intend to attend in person, registration is required at ebrpl.com. Read more about beekeeping on page 26. k

JUN

12th

GOOD EATS CRAWFISH COOKIN’ FOR A CAUSE Covington, Louisiana

For the eleventh year, Crawfish Cookin’ for a Cause will host its popular head-sucking fundraiser, benefitting local families affected by catastrophic illness. This year’s event will be held via drive-thru. Tickets are $30, which gets you ten pounds of crawfish; bags of sides (corn and potatoes) are $5 each. All tickets must be reserved in advance, and pickup will be at 1127 N Causeway. crawfishcookinforacause.com. k

JUN 12th

LOCAL HISTORY THE DAY THE WAR STOPPED Saint Francisville, Louisiana

Feliciana Masonic Lodge #31 will again take part in the annual Day the War Stopped reenactment of Union Lt. Commander John Elliot Hart’s burial at Grace Episcopal Church—a moment


during the Civil War when two warring sides laid down arms to honor the dead together through the common bonds of Masonic Brotherhood. Each year the Lodge and the town gather to commemorate The Day the War Stopped in St. Francisville with various events. Most are free and open to the public. 9:30 am–11 pm. stfrancisvillefestivals.com. k

JUN

12th

HEALTH & WELLNESS JUST BREATHE: WORKSHOP WITH LINDA ALTERWITZ Lafayette, Louisiana

Join visual artist Linda Alterwitz for a workshop at the Hilliard Museum on the profound impacts that meditation and mindfulness can have on health and well-being. 10 am–noon. $20–$25. hilliardmuseum.org. k

JUN

12

th

FOODIE FUN POPPY TOOKER AT THE LIBRARY Galvez, Louisiana

Snag some boiled crawfish to benefit Northshore families affected by illness at Crawfish Cookin’ for a Cause. Photo by Alexandra Kennon.

Cookbook author, Louisiana Eats! radio host, and general bon vivant Poppy Tooker is set to grace the Ascension Parish Library in Gonzales for a demonstration and book signing that’s

sure to make you hungry. 2 pm–4 pm. Free. myapl.org. k

JUN

12th

SUMMER FESTIVALS FESTIVAL OF LIVE OAKS New Iberia, Louisiana

Louisiana loves its live oaks, and with good reason. Their beauty inspires, their branches offer shelter from the sun, their roots run deep. The twenty-seventh annual Festival of Live Oaks in live-oak laden New Iberia will offer arts & crafts, music, workshops, a barbecue cook-off, children’s activities, face painting, pony rides, and more. 9 am–3 pm in New Iberia City Park. Free. iberiatravel.com. k

JUN

12th

FUN FUNDRAISERS MAGNOLIA BALL New Orleans, Louisiana

Ogden Museum of Southern Art is excited to bring Magnolia Ball back with a fun evening of art, music, and festive celebration. Come support Ogden Museum’s educational mission and celebrate the exhibition, Outside In, Improvisations of Space: The Ceramic Work of MaPó Kinnord. The evening will feature art, live music, DJs, entertainers, an online silent auction, food vouchers from favorite local restaurants, cocktails, and more. Timed tickets begin at

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Events

Beginning June 12th - June 19th

6 pm, 8 pm, and 10 pm, and start at $75. ogdenmuseum.org. k

JUN

12

th

- JUN

13

th

HOME IMPROVEMENTS ST. TAMMANY HOME AND REMODELING SHOW Mandeville, Louisiana

The only home and garden show in the Northshore area is coming to the Castine Center in Mandeville this weekend. The St. Tammany Home and Remodeling Show is teaming up with Certified Louisiana Food Fest to showcase the best products and services for everything in your home, from kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, siding, and so much more. Plus, every participant at the show has the chance to win awesome door prizes. 10 am–5 pm both days. $6; free for kids twelve and younger. jaaspro.com. k

JUN

12th - JUN 19th

LIVE MUSIC ACPC PERFORMING ARTS SERIES New Roads, Louisiana

This month on June 12, Elvis tribute performer Travis Hudson, and later on June

19 Pointe Coupée’s own Taylor Frey and Roots Run Deep will delight audiences at the Poydras Center as part of The Arts Council of Point Coupée’s Performing Arts Series, made possible by a grant from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and Festival. To purchase tickets, contact Gail Roy at roygaleb@bellsouth.net or (225) 638-6049; or purchase tickets at Roy’s Jewelry or The Therapy Center two weeks prior to the performance date. 7 pm. $20. artscouncilofpointecoupee.org. k

JUN

13th

LOCAL HISTORY SIDE BY SIDE: FREE PEOPLE OF COLOR IN WEST FELICIANA PARISH Baton Rouge, Louisiana

As part of the East Baton Rouge Parish’s Special Lecture Series, Evelyn L. Wilson, former Southern University Professor of Law, will present a discussion on the lives of free people of color who lived in preCivil War West Feliciana Parish. She’ll discuss how they came to be free, and how they made their livelihoods. The rural area of West Feliciana was heavily invested in slavery before the war, but because of the

Bridal registry, gifts, wedding flowers, parties, events, holiday décor, etc....

505 Franklin St Natchez, MS 39120 601-446-3011 601-445-8416 Mon-Sat 9am-5pm

www.johngradyburns.com 22

J U N E 2 1 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M

cosmopolitan nature of its port, migrants, immigrants, transient visitors, and lax enforcement of restrictive laws made it an acceptable place for a free person of color could live. 2:30 pm at the Main Library. Free. ebrpl.org. k

JUN

13th

FUN FUNDRAISERS CHEF SOIRÉE Covington, Louisiana

Chef Soirée is the annual fundraising gala for the St. Tammany Youth Service Bureau, an organization that provides advocacy, counseling, education, and intervention for at-risk youth and their families. Dozens of Northshore food and beverage establishments will dish out their specialties while live bands spin the crowd around and around, all against the gorgeous outdoor backdrop of Bogue Falaya Park. Plus a $25 raffle ticket buys a chance to win a 2021 Banner Ford Mustang or a 2021 Ford Escape, among other prizes. So that’s kind of tasty. 5 pm–9 pm. $145. chefsoiree.com. k

she’s bringing her two puppy puppet pals Hal and Henson along with her. Catch her at shows taking place June 14 and 15 at 10 am, 11:15 am, 1:30 pm, with an additional show at 2:30 pm on the 15. Monday shows will be held at the Main Branch Library in Livingston; Tuesday’s shows will be held at the Denham Springs-Walker Branch. Free. mylpl.info. k

JUN

14th - JUN 17th

GET SPORTY AMERICAN JUNIOR GOLF ASSOCIATION (AJGA) TOURNAMENT Baton Rouge, Louisiana

West Feliciana Parish and the Louisiana Office of Tourism are welcoming talented young golfers and their families to the rolling hills of the Bluffs Golf Resort for the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Tournament. Open to all golfers ages twelve–nineteen. $295. ajga.org. k

JUN

16th

KID STUFF SHANA BANANA

CANNABIS CONVERSATIONS LSU AGCENTER & MEDICAL MARIJUANA: DISCUSSION AND PHOTO EXHIBIT

Livingston, Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Award-winning national children’s musical storyteller Shana Banana is visiting Livingston Parish Libraries this summer, and

For the past several years, the LSU AgCenter has been working with state regulators that include the Louisiana Department of

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14th


Agriculture and Forestry and the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy to safely bring medical marijuana to patients in Louisiana. Join representatives from the organization alongside photographer Bruce Williams for a discussion on LSU’s involvement in farming medical marijuana, in addition to research currently being conducted. Register to attend in person at the Main Library at Goodwood at (225) 231-3751 or watch from at home via the Library’s Facebook page. 6 pm. Free. ebrpl.com. k

JUN

18th

LOCAL HISTORY JOHN JAMES AUDUBON BICENTENNIAL MEMORIAL DEDICATION Saint Francisville, Louisiana

Naturalist and painter John James Audubon made history when he stepped off of the Columbia Steamboat at the port of Bayou Sara and made his way by foot through St. Francisville to Oakley House, where he would paint many of his Birds of America series. Two hundred years later, West Feliciana remembers and celebrates Audubon’s arrival with a dedication at the West Feliciana Historical Society building—a site which Audubon would have passed as he walked along Ferdinand Street. A new digital app will also be unveiled at the event, which allows visitors to tour parts of the Parish that play a role in Audubon’s story along the first “Audubon Trail”, which will have over twenty destinations. This dedication will launch a three-month series of events leading up to the John James Audubon Symposium on September 17 and 18. The dedication begins at 10 am at 11757 Ferdinand Street. Free. Tickets to the September symposium are on sale now starting at $50 at bontempstix.com and are limited. westfelicianahistory.org. k

JUN

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FREEDOM RINGS JUNETEENTH SPEAKER SERIES Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Imagination Leads, an organization that promotes culturally diverse experiences in literacy and the arts, is collaborating with Manship Theatre to present a special Juneteenth Speaker Series featuring Tiffany Cross, host of the Cross Connection on MSNBC. Learn about the historical significance of Juneteenth and about the current movement to have it officially celebrated throughout the country. 7 pm. $75. manshiptheatre.org. k

JUN

18th - JUN 20th

SUMMER FESTIVAL NATCHEZ SOUL FOOD FUSION FESTIVAL Natchez, Mississippi

The Second Annual Natchez Soul Food Festival is bringing a weekend of fun times,

delicious flavors, and the best of local culture to the banks of the Mississippi River. Friday evening brings BBQ Blues and Brews, with delicious ‘cue, local beer, and all of the live blues music your little ears can handle. Local blues legend Mr. YZ Ealey will perform, along with plenty of local favorites. Saturday features a White Linen Night with plenty of soulful delicacies and more live music in the heart of downtown Natchez, and Sunday marks the Lazy Magnolia Brunch at Historic Concord Quarters, inviting all to brunch and sip bottomless mimosas in the shade with Chef Rita. $30 at bontempstix.com. k

JUN

OLIVINA BOUTIQUE

19th

SUMMER FESTIVAL COCODRIE SUMMER BASH Chauvin, Louisiana

Turn up the summer heat in the best way possible with live music from Junior LaCrosse and Sumtin Sneaky, The Kerry Thibodaux Band, Nonc Nu & Da Wild Matous, and DJ Rhett featuring the RougaRou Too Band at the annual Cocodrie Summer Bash. Food, drinks, merch and alcoholic beverages will be for sale at the event. 5 pm. $15. kerrythibodaux.comcocodriesummerbash. k

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SUMMER FESTIVAL FRANKLIN SOUL FOOD FESTIVAL

“One of the best gift shops in the South” -As seen in Southern Living 411 Franklin Street www.olivinanatchez.com 225-636-0442

Franklin, Louisiana

Head down to the bayou (the bayou side of Teche Drive, that is) in Franklin for some delicious soul food, a 5k race, Juneteenth exhibit, Children’s village, and much more. (985) 380-8224. 8 am–10 pm. $25 to participate in the 5k. cajuncoast.com. k

JUN 19th

FREEDOM RINGS GALVESTON ISLAND JUNETEENTH FESTIVAL AND MURAL DEDICATION Galveston, Texas

In November of 2020, Sam Collins III and Juneteenth Legacy Project Committee Co-chair Sheridan Lorenz established the Juneteenth Legacy Project nonprofit, introduced with the unveiling of a five thousand square foot art installation titled “Absolute Equality”. All are invited to attend the mural’s dedication on Juneteenth at 22nd Street and The Strand in Galveston at 11:30 am. This year also marks the first Galveston Island Juneteenth Festival to follow at Kermit Courville Field, a “family friendly celebration of freedom” featuring food vendors, live music, an entrepreneurs showcase, Black artist exhibition, and more. juneteenthlegacyproject.com. Read more about the Juneteenth Legacy // J U N E 2 1

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Events

new generation. 4:30 pm–9 pm. $175 at bontempstix.com. k

Beginning June 19 - June 27 th

Project and “Absolutely Equality” mural on page 46. k

JUN

19th

CREATIVE CLASSES IN-PERSON ARTIST WORKSHOP WITH MAPÓ KINNORD New Orleans, Louisiana

Join the Ogden Museum for a special sculpture workshop exploring Outside In, Improvisations of Space, a solo exhibition of MaPó Kinnord’s work throughout the span of her career. The workshop will include a guided walkthrough of the exhibition, an in-depth discussion with Kinnord, followed by an art-making workshop led by the artist where you can earn how to form pinch pots using contemplative clay techniques. Participants will create sculpture work through meditation, intuition, and free-forming. Materials will be provided. Opportunities to fire finished work will be made available after the workshop date. 10 am. $50; $45 members (includes material cost). Registration required. ogdenmuseum.org. k

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RAISE A GLASS “RIVER RUN: A FELICIANASGROWN FEAST AT WOODLAWN” COUNTRY ROADS SUPPER CLUB Saint Francisville, Louisiana

Featuring a menu developed to showcase the freshness, flavor, and variety of produce raised and grown in the Felicianas, this Country Roads Supper Club will introduce attendees to spectacular Woodlawn estate. The evening will feature a fourcourse meal with paired wines prepared by Chef Phillip Lopez, Executive Chef of Galatoire’s New Orleans; and hors d’oeuvres and accompanying cocktails by Chef Jason Roland of Heirloom Cuisine in St. Francisville. Attendees will explore the property, sit for an outdoor feast served banquet-style on the banks of a rushing trout stream, then move to a lakeside boathouse for an on-water show with live entertainment throughout. Guests will spend a beautiful afternoon in the Tunica Hills, eat like kings, and leave with a heightened appreciation for the small, artisanal farmers and producers leading the Felicianas’ agricultural heritage into a

19th - JUN 20th

SUMMER FESTIVALS FRANKLINTON FLOAT FEST Franklinton, Louisiana

Let the water do all the work! Head to Franklinton for this year’s fourth annual Float Fest, featuring live music, food, volleyball, and—of course—tubing down the Bogue Chitto. 9 am–4 pm. Details at the Louisiana River Adventures/Waynes World Tubing Facebook Page. k

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KID STUFF SUMMER FUN WITH THE ARTS Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Give your young one the opportunity to let their inner artist shine this summer with the Manship Theatre’s Summer Fun arts camps. From visual arts, to theatre, to dance, multiple art forms will be explored with professional artists from the community. 8:30 am–3:30 pm. Ages six to eight. $275, which includes a t-shirt and special screening in the theatre. To register, call the Manship Theatre ticket desk at (225) 344-0334. Online registration is not available. manshiptheatre.org. k

JUN 24th

LIVE MUSIC VIBES IN THE VILLE Saint Francisville, Louisiana

St. Francisville’s new music series Vibes in the Ville is keeping the good vibes flowing in Parker Park the last Thursday of each month. On June 24, catch Day Trip. 5:30 pm. Free. stfrancisvillefestivals.com. k

JUN

LIVE MUSIC RENÉE REED AT YES WE CANNIBAL Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Three months following the release of her debut self-titled album, “dreamy-fi folk” Acadiana artist Renée Reed is finally getting to perform it in person. Yes We Cannibal will host her release party this month in their gallery space, where Reed will be joined by Baton Rouge singer/songwriter Hal Lambert. Doors open at 6 pm, music starts at 6:30 pm. Entrance is donation-based. yeswecannibal.org. k

JUN

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- JUN

27th

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Southern cuisine, live music, competitions, vendors, and more are

Natchez Festival of music - May 23- June 27 Soul Food Fusion Festival - June 18-20 natchez 4th of july celebration - july 4 Natchez celebrates the blooms - July

24

24th

SUMMER FESTIVALS BATON ROUGE SOUL FOOD FESTIVAL

summer events

June 18-20

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coming to the Riverfront Plaza for the fourth annual Baton Rouge Soul Food Festival. June 24 brings a Greens, Beans, and Chicken Wings Pre-Party to kick off the weekend at Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room from 8 pm–midnight; tickets are $25 and include live music and a buffet. Live music and entertainment will continue at the Listening Room throughout the weekend, including performances by folk/blues singer and songwriter Johnathan Foster from California, R&B singer Ravie Shorts, and many others. Meanwhile in the Plaza, find cooking competitions, and, of course, all of the soul food you can handle. 11 am–8 pm Saturday, 11 am–7 pm Sunday. Free. brsoulfoodfest.com. k

JUN

25th

- JUN

SUMMER FESTIVALS JEAN LAFITTE SEAFOOD FESTIVAL

27th

day wrist bands $45, $10 admission Friday, $20 for Saturday or Sunday. townofjeanlafitte.com. k

JUN

- JUN

27th

KID STUFF CHILDREN’S WATER SAFETY AWARENESS FISHING RODEO Point-Aux-Chenes, Louisiana

Head down to Point-Aux-Chenes to challenge your fishing skills and educate the kiddos about water safety with the first annual Children’s Water Safety Awareness Fishing Rodeo. There will be boating, kayak, and kids’ divisions, with cash prizes awarded to the top three winners in each category. Scales are open on Saturday from noon–6 pm; Sunday from 10 am–2 pm. Crab Races will take place with free entry at 5 pm Saturday. $30 entry for participants over thirteen years old, $10 for kids under twelve. houmatourism.com. k

Jean Lafitte, Louisiana

After a fifteen year hiatus, the Jean Lafitte Seafood Festival is back, fresher and tastier than ever. Live music, visual artists, swamp tours, and naturally plenty of local seafood to try are highlights. Friday gates open open from 5 pm–11 pm; Saturday 11 am– 11 pm; Sunday 11 am–8 pm. Three-

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through its inaugural Art Retreat at Milton J. Womack Park. Participants can participate in everything from painting to pottery to Yogarts and creative mindfulness to writing. Supplies, snacks, and lunch are all provided. 9 am–5 pm. $100. robin.mcanrew@brec.org for details. k

JUN

26th

ART EXPERIENCES THE GREAT ESCAPE ART RETREAT Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Creativity begs for breathing room, and breaks from the routine. This summer, BREC is generously fostering both

JUN

26th

- JUN

Concert Band will join forces for this performance of patriotic music at the Sugar Cane Festival Building. They’ll honor military veterans with music selections from the World War II era, among many others. 3 pm–4:30 pm. (337) 364-1603 or lafayettetravel.com. k

27th

LIVE MUSIC CAJUN COUNTRY JAM Abita Springs, Louisiana

As the world begins to re-open, we have no one to thank more than our first responders. As tribute, take part in the inaugural two-day music festival, Cajun Country Jam. For free, see Grammy Award-winning supergroup Shenandoah, Country Superstar Andy Griggs, Louisiana Music Hall of Famer Chase Tyler, and more live at the Abita Springs Trailhead Plaza. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets. Noon–5 pm. Free. louisiananorthshore.com. k

JUN

27th

LIVE MUSIC STARS & STRIPES: A MUSICAL CELEBRATION New Iberia, Louisiana

The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra and the Iberia Parish Community

Sunnyside 102 Rembert Street Natchez, MS 39120

356 Hart Young Rd Monterey, LA 71354

Sunnyside, a Greek Revival home built in 1850 is uniquely nestled on 9+ acres in downtown Natchez. This is the first time this 5500 sq ft estate cottage has been on the market since it has been engaged as an active B & B & event venue. Originally Sunnyside plantation had over 150 acres that included a working farm and orchards. Today it is home to 100+ camellias, 100+ crepe myrtles, hundreds of azaleas, many pecan trees and other plantings. It is secluded and quiet with ample room for event parking or private enjoyment and seclusion. The kitchen cabinets were built from reclaimed wood from the barns and structures originally built on the property. The majority of the floors are the original planks. It has 11 fireplaces and all but one have the original cast iron trimming the openings. Sunnyside is very rich in history as is well-documented. If you are looking for a private home you can entertain in or or one that can be used as a revenue-generating property, this is a MUST SEE!

Don't miss out on viewing this Lake Home situated on 3 1/2 Lots. It has all sorts of Amenities for entertaining Large and Small crowds. View of the Lake from this property is Beautiful. 30 X 40 Storage Building is adequate for all types of storage equipment and boats. Beautiful trees are found on this property. Interior is well designed with 2 Bedrooms located upstairs. This property is a must Bed see if you're looking for Lake Property in Monterey. Located on Quiet Street.

Natchez, MS 114 Main Street • 601-442-2286 // J U N E 2 1

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Features

JUNE 2021 26 WHAT ITS LIKE FOR YOU

ALL?

TO HOLD

// 3 3 O L D

THE QUEEN

BEE

IN YOUR

COLORS GET NEW LIFE

IN

HANDS

SW E E T, SW E E T, SW E E T

// 3 1 W H O

NEW ORLEANS

COOKS

FOR YOU? WHO

COOKS

W

A P E R F E C T S WA R M

The Secret Life of Beekeepers DARING AND A LITTLE DANGEROUS, A PROFESSION IN PURSUIT OF GOLD

Story and photos by Jason Vowell

S

he moves slowly, methodically; her long abdomen adorned with the most extravagant bronze. A flurry of servants buzz around her, tending to her every need: cleaning her, feeding her, protecting her. She is the beating heart of an entire colony that couldn’t exist should she fall ill; a thriving distillery that produces an invigorating and nutritious elixir—a condiment born of golden sunshine, floral and sweet. In her lifetime she will have up to thirty male suiters, and her unmatched fertility will produce nearly 26

two thousand offspring a day. When she becomes old and infertile, the servants who have slaved so tirelessly their entire lives to protect her will turn on their queen, exiling her and those who choose to stay loyal to her rule. Or, they will kill her and replace her with a new, younger, and more fertile Empress. Without her, and her brood, a large swath of plants and animals, including humans, would starve. She is one of the most important organisms on the planet. She is the Queen Honey Bee.

J U N E 2 1 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M

Often, the first thing most people think of when they hear phrases like “swarm” or “hive” is getting stung. But to a beekeeper, these words elicit pure joy. Wonder. Excitement. Love, even. Getting stung was certainly the first thing I thought of when Nick Usner, owner of Wild Woods Apiary in Waldheim, Louisiana, turned around and placed a large queen bee directly in my hand. He instructed me to hold her gently between my ungloved fingers and not let her fly away—a task easier said than done.

“Drones cannot sting you,” Usner told me. “Worker bees can, they have little barbs that catch in the skin and stay when the bee flies away. A queen, though? They have smooth stingers, but most beekeepers are never stung by queens.” As Usner walked away to fetch a “queen cage”—a small clip used to keep a queen safe while transporting her to a new home—the world suddenly came into sharp, distilled focus. I stared down at this beautiful, regal insect trying her best to wrestle free, but—to my surprise—not attempting to sting me. Thousands of drones whipped around my body like a buzzing tornado, their sole purpose in life to protect their Queen in my hand. Exhilarated, I found myself intensely aware of my surroundings, filled with adrenaline. In that moment, I realized why some people fall so deeply in love with the tradition and craft of beekeeping. Bees have five eyes: three that perceive fluctuations in light, and two compound eyes that specialize in recognizing complex shapes and patterns. Their vision is perfectly attuned to ultraviolet light. This serves to direct them toward the brightest, most nectar-rich flowers. They can easily differentiate between hives to


find their own. Research has shown that they can even recognize human faces. If that is true, a vast majority of the honey bees in St. Tammany Parish must be familiar with Nick Usners’ impressive beard and kind eyes. Usner has collected and relocated hundreds of feral swarms into hives across the Northshore; each one a thriving community of social insects. “When you look at a bee hive, you are looking at a living dehydrator,” Usner says. “By fanning their wings, primarily at night, the bees dehydrate the collected nectar to make honey.” Each hive has the potential to yield nearly sixty pounds of honey each year. For those doing the math, that’s over seven thousand pounds of the sweet stuff. Usner primarily sells his bees’ honey at farmers’ markets, but it has started to find its way onto the shelves of health food stores like Sacred Earth Company in Mandeville, Abita Coffee Roasting Company, and even small groceries like Nur’s Kitchen in Covington. As a farmer, Usner quickly developed a symbiotic relationship to his hives: they help pollinate his crops in their endless quest for nectar and pollen, and the honey is a delicious byproduct of that process. “I’ve never bought bees,” Usner said. “All my colonies are feral swarms. I really appreciate the wild cycle and roll with it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely in it for honey production, but at the same time I keep my bees in a more holistic fashion than most beekeepers would. It’s really important to exist hand in hand with bees instead of trying to completely control them.” For Usner, this means no treatment, no chemicals, no mite control or pesticides, and no pasteurization of the honey. “When you pasteurize, the heat

destroys the nutrients and enzymes. What you are left with is a sweetener. It’s not honey.” Usner took the queen from my hand and gently placed her in the clip. “I can’t explain my fascination with them or why I love beekeeping so much,” Usner said. “You’ll get a different answer from every beekeeper. I hate to use the word addiction, because it has a negative connotation, but I’m really addicted to the swarm. Watching fifty thousand bees move into one of my traps and relocating them to their new home—it’s just really satisfying.” Most reproductive swarming activity takes place in the spring, between March and May. Generally, swarms occur when a hive gets too crowded, and they will split in two. Bees will also swarm if their hive becomes uninhabitable due to predators, lack of food or water, parasite infestations, or weather. For Usner, beekeeping is not just about conservation and cultivation, but also education. “I understand why people view a swarm as something negative. But it’s actually when the bees are most docile. They don’t have a home to defend. They don’t have any reason to be aggressive.” Usner sets around fifty swarm traps in St. Tammany Parish every spring. His traps are wooden boxes with a bit of brood comb inside, saturating the space with bee pheromones. “As long as it fits the criteria, bees will naturally

set up shop in one of these traps and start drawing comb within a day,” Usner said. “It’s perfectly natural for them to swarm. As a beekeeper, it’s my job to control that. And if they set up shop in your barn or in your walls? It’s my purpose to relocate them safely.” The bees may like these rigid enclosures, but Usner likes to think outside of the box. “It’s wild, no one has really had any new ideas when it comes to beekeeping. As humans we have been doing it for ten thousand years, but it’s still mostly just wooden boxes in a field. We haven’t evolved much. I’m really into trying new things.” The taste, color, and quality of honey is directly influenced by the nectar

sources in the bees’ environment. It can be rich, dark, and smoky, or light and floral. Usner compares the variations in honey to a good wine. “A lot of beekeepers will plant different fruit trees and flowers around their apiaries to influence the flavor and quality of their bees’ honey. I thought, why not just take the bees to the source?” So, he did. By building rows of bee hives onto a carefully remodeled trailer, Usner can transport his bees to different nectar sources—like Blue Harvest Blueberry farm, a pick-your-own fruit farm in Bush, Louisiana. “It’s a win-win for everyone,” Usner said. “A honey bee hive on a farm like this one can [make the farm] yield three times more fruit due to better pollination. And the bees produce more honey because of the abundance of nectar.” As Usner walked me through the daily process of hive maintenance at Blue Harvest, his focus trailed off to a large, dark mass about twenty feet above us in the tree line. Eyes wide, a wave of excitement washed over him as he yelled, “Look! What are the odds? THERE IS A SWARM MY MAN!” Surely enough, dangling precariously just steps away from us on the limb of a laurel oak, was a massive cluster of honey bees. Without skipping a beat, Usner scaled the tree to assess the situation. “How lucky could we get? It’s beautiful!” Usner yelled down to me as I climbed up a nearby deer stand to hand off a large plastic container. In one fascinating, forceful movement, Usner shook the cluster of bees into the tub. “This swarm is in a really good mood

// J U N E 2 1

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The Secret Life continued . . .

City of New Roads presents

July 4th

False River Boat Parade Sunday, July 4, 2021 210 Morrison Parkway

Experience a day of FREE family fun with music and food.

Check website at www.newroads.net for fireworks show

Prettiest City on the Water

Meet me at the Mag!

Closed Mondays 5689

3-V Tourist Courts •1940’s Motor Hotel • Reservations: 225-721-7003 28

J U N E 2 1 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M

today!” Usner howled as he passed down the vibrating box of bees to me. He gently slid a lid across the box and looked up at me with a completely straight face. “I’m going to need you to put these bees in your car.” I laughed, assuming it was just another beekeeper joke. But Usner was dead serious. “If I put them in the back of my truck, they could overheat in the sun and die,” he told me. “Just put them in your backseat, turn on the AC, and crack the window in case any get loose. Don’t worry, they are completely docile right now. They won’t sting you.” And that’s how I found myself cruising down Louisiana Highway 21 with fifty thousand bees buzzing away in my backseat, en route to their new home at a satsuma orchard down the road, where they would help pollinate next fall’s citrus. Beekeeping isn’t just for farmers or large scale honey producers. There has been an explosion of DIY beekeepers in it for the love of the craft. Over the last few months, I have had the pleasure of tagging along with some on a handful of removals and relocations. “It’s one part science, and three parts art,” said Sara Fiorenzo, a DIY beekeeper who goes by Michigoddess Apiary in Central City New Orleans. “It’s like having kids. There are no set guidelines or completely right or wrong way to do it. You have to listen to the bees, observe them, figure out what they need, and help them thrive.” Fiorenzo pulled a hunk of glistening

honeycomb straight from a hive she had just carried precariously down an old ladder from a roof removal and handed it me. “Of course, environmentally, it’s important to protect the bees. But these are the perks of the job.” I took a bite out of the intricatelydrawn wax and could instantly feel the pleasure center of my brain awash with endorphins. It tasted like blooming jasmine and the pine needle smoke used to calm the bees: a complex and exciting combination on my palate. Everyone has a favorite way to eat honey. Usner prefers it straight from the hive, but also loves it on a peanut butter and banana sandwich (creamy peanut butter, he stressed.). Fiorenzo prefers hers fermented in homemade mead. Personally, I have never experienced a better way to eat honey than right there, chewing the drenched wax in the soft afternoon sun, with the oscillation of the very bees that made it swirling all around me. h

For more information on Wild Woods or Michigoddess apiaries, visit their social media pages: facebook. com/wildwoodsapiary or @wildwoodsapiary on Instagram. facebook.com/ MichigoddessApiary Or, if you have a swarm that needs relocating, call or text Nick Usner at (985) 373-3016.


PERFECT PITCH

Birding Blind TURNS OUT, YOU CAN LEARN A LOT ABOUT A BIRD FROM ITS SONG

Story by Catherine Schoeffler Comeaux Photo by Paul Kieu • Illustrations by Kourtney Zimmerman

I

n the final hours before suppertime, my daughter bounces around the backyard bellowing, again and again: “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for yooooou all!?” It is not a question; she knows who cooks for us all (lately, it is her dad). She is hooked on repeating the catchy mnemonic phrase for the song of the Barred Owl, while her sister plays the rhythm of the White-throated Sparrow on her flute, “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody!” It has gotten a bit noisier around our house since we started learning to bird by ear. When my first child was born blind, all the overly protective instincts of a new parent kicked in, intensified by how little I knew about blindness. My husband and I met fellow parents of blind children who taught us to foster independence and confidence in our child. We formed the Louisiana Parents of Blind Children Southern Saturday Club and started getting our kids together for activities like art lessons, hayrides, and audio-descriptive movie nights. This spring, our small group decided to head out to Acadiana Park in Lafayette to learn about birding—a wonderful, multi-sensual experience that immersed us in the smells of the woods, the feel of fresh air on our skin, and the pleasantly noisy sound of bird songs in spring. Mud puddles and chocolate glazed donuts made the morning complete. Before our excursion, our family repeatedly listened to the Peterson Field Guide to Birding By Ear and focused on recordings of birds we could expect to hear in the woods of South Louisiana at this time of year. We crammed the night before—listening repeatedly to the buzzy trill of the Northern Parula, the “Chick-burr” of the Scarlet Tanager, and the “Purty, purty, purty” of the Northern Cardinal.

Several families— siblings and grandparents in tow—joined us that Saturday morning, despite lingering rain. On the cusp of peak migration season in South Louisiana, the trees were noisy— repeated whistles coming from high up, a buzzy trill even higher, a darting, “Chip!” nearby—layer upon layer of sounds. Our guide, expert ear-birder Robert Dobbs, immediately identified fifteen species by their song alone, “Oh, and did you just hear that Rubythroated hummer buzz by?” he asked as we all did

The Louisiana Parents of Blind Children Southern Saturday Club, composed of a small group of people of various ages, led by ear birder Robert Dobbs, walking on an elevated boardwalk surrounded by a canopy of leafy, spring-green trees and underbrush in Acadian Park.

our best to follow along with the barrage of sounds surrounding us. In his role as the Nongame Ornithologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Dobbs spends a lot of time in the field making official bird counts. “For expert birders and ornithologists, upwards of ninety percent of bird detections are made by ear,” he explained to the group. Birders listen for songs, calls, and non-vocal mechanical sounds to solve the intricate puzzle of identifying birds—which can also involve noting the bird’s size, length and structure of bill and legs, plumage coloration, markings and patterns, and behavior. Birders can greatly reduce the species that need to be considered when identifying a bird by considering only the birds likely to occur in a geographic locality, habitat, and season. “Songs and calls offer a completely different suite of signals that may be used to identify birds,” said Dobbs. What we hear in the springtime are mostly songs, more complex vocalizations birds use for attracting a mate or establishing—and maintaining—territory. Calls are shorter, often one note, used to announce location or a threat. Non-vocal mechanical sounds, like that of the buzzing Ruby-throated hummer, are sounds birds make with their wings, feet, beaks, and other body parts. As we walked, Dobbs would snap his fingers in the direction he wanted us to listen. It was no easy task for // J U N E 2 1

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Artistry of Light By Mary T. Wiley

Installation &

maintenance

on new & pre-existing lighting

Landscape Lighting Specialists

Transforming outdoor spaces throughout Louisiana for 39 years.

225-955-7584 • artistryoflight.com • MARY T. WILEY

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(800) 256-2931 | #cajuncoast 30

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Birding Blind continued . . . Towards the end of our excursion, Old Sam Peabody, Dobbs guided us to a low, wet area where Peabody, Peabody! we were certain to hear a Prothonotary Warbler, commonly known as the Swamp Canary because of its sunshine yellow head and breast. Instead, it was a Brown-headed Cowbird at the edge of the woods who broke a brief silence with its “Bubble, bubble, zee.” Dobbs regaled us with stories of how this brood parasite lays eggs and abandons them for other birds to hatch. As we all shook our heads at the oddities of nature, the Swamp Canary sang out, “Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet!” The any of us to pick out the exact warble or brightness of this small bird’s song was whistle he was homing in on. Despite somewhat obscured by the sounds of the common assumptions, blindness does kids splashing in puddles—at this point, not necessarily equate with supersonic they were more enthralled with the mud hearing. What might seem like a blind at their feet than the complexities of person’s extra sensitive hearing ability is birdsong in the trees. We all went home just a little muddy typically that person simply using their auditory powers to their full capabilities, but with our understanding of the world out of necessity. As beginner birders, we expanded. In our backyard, we are still all had to strain our ears in hopes that the listening for songs we might recognize in bird of note would repeat its song again the trees. Our oldest child keeps hearing the “Chick-burr” of a Scarlet Tanager so we could commit it to memory. How do birders learn to hear while I seem to be followed by the happy and distinguish the myriad bird buzzy cicada-like trill of the Northern vocalizations? With practice, patience, Parula—a joy to hear, though I have yet and curiosity, they pay attention to to see one. Last year, it was all just birds rhythm, pitch, repetition, and volume. In to us, chirping away. This year, we hear communicating with other birders, they so much more. h find ways to describe the vocal qualities of what they hear—is it reedy, whistlelike, or buzzy? Many birds have names that derive from their songs like the Chuck-will’s-widow and the Carolina Chickadee. Certain mnemonic phrases help to remember birdsong like the Redeyed Vireo who seems to say, “Here I am, where are you?” If you are like us and only just learning to bird, author, educator, and scientist, Trevor Attenberg advises to first learn exactly which birds are common in your area and at what times of year, then create a short list of five to ten birds that you will encounter most often. Focus on learning these songs. As a blind birder, Attenberg recommends The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website at allaboutbirds.org, which has quick access to lots of recordings and is screen reader compatible. April to May is the peak migration season in South Louisiana and so it is also the noisiest, as we learned on our excursion. The month of June is a great time to hone your ear-birding skills, as migratory birds have moved on and resident birds have quieted down—leaving the soundscape a bit simplified in comparison to spring.

Learn more about birding by ear with these resources: birdability.org: Supporting accessible birding for all birdscanada.org’s Birding By Ear For All course larkwire.com: Uses games to teach bird songs losbird.org: The Louisiana Ornithological Society; Learn about meetings and field trips for birders in Louisiana. xeno-canto.org: International bird song sharing


R E D U C E R E U S E R EC YC L E

The Green Project

ALMOST THIRTY YEARS OF FOSTERING CREATIVE SUSTAINABILITY IN NEW ORLEANS

F

Story by Matt A. Sheen • Photos by Alexandra Kennon

or nearly thirty years, The Green Project has worked to preserve the natural beauty of New Orleans and inspire local citizenry to do the same. The roots of the project began in 1994 when Linda Stone and artist Suzanne Durham officially founded the Mid-City Green Project, a community initiative combining recycling and art. “We wanted to do something that was creative and also good for the environment, putting our two sets of skills and interests together,” remembered Stone, who was at the time working as a writer and researcher for the Office of Environmental Epidemiology at the Louisiana Office of Public Health. Stone studied up on how to start a nonprofit, and the duo conducted a search for a suitable place for the project, ultimately choosing the Goldseal Dairy on D’Hemecourt and S. Alexander Streets in Mid-City, a large, almost-empty structure with a lot of outdoor space. Prior to her role with the Office of Public Health, Stone worked as a research assistant at The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. There, she gained experience working to improve problems associated with urban runoff and its impact on the lake, especially when it comes to paint. She noticed that there were no programs at the time to address the problems caused by paint being poured down drains and getting into the local waterbodies, where it was becoming a major pollutant.

“Recycling paint, just like recycling most products, saves energy and resources that would be used in making a brand new product from virgin materials when you take into account the extraction, processing and packaging of new materials,” explained the Green Project’s current Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator Erin Genrich. “Latex paint contains chemicals like solvents that can damage the environment if disposed of improperly. If poured down the storm drain here, the paint goes right out to Lake Pontchartrain without any treatment. Additionally, if paint is dumped, it contributes to groundwater contamination. And if latex paint is responsibly disposed of by hardening, it will end up in a landfill, where it will take up space.” Through the Mid-City Green Project, Stone decided to start the Paint Exchange, a latex paint recycling program, with help from a one thousand dollar matching grant being offered by Entergy New Orleans for creative projects benefitting the environment. “Then I had to figure out how to execute it,” she said. Stone assembled a board of directors made up of neighbors, local businessespeople, representatives from the New Orleans Department of Sanitation, local environmentalists, activists in the community, and students from Ben Franklin High School’s ecological club. The board helped to spread the word by passing around press releases wrapped around little paint brushes.

“The first Saturday we opened in October of 1994, we [received] a lot of paint, and all the neighborhood children showed up and wanted to do something,” Stone recalled. “Suzanne put them to work painting old flower pots and chairs that she found in the back garden area of the dairy building.” Soon after, Stone and Durham incorporated an organic gardening component into their programs, making use of all the protected outdoor space. They sold the produce at the then-newly-opened Crescent City Farmers Market. “I was able to get us a number of grants from local foundations to fund summer programs for children, and further develop our paint recycling and garden programs,” Stone said. “The city also placed a large container outside the dairy where people could drop off paper, cans, and glass to recycle.” In 1996, the Green Project started the Building Materials Exchange, which sold donated architectural salvage that could be reused or repurposed to local builders and creatives. “After Katrina, many architectural building parts that would have been lost found their way to The Green Project,” said Stone. The program received the Environmental Protection Agency’s first Sustainability grant. In 1998 the organization, no longer quite so neighborhood-centric, was retitled simply The Green Project, and under Stone’s successor Renee Allie, the facility was moved to its current location on Marais Street in the Bywater. The organic garden didn’t // J U N E 2 1

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The Green Project continued . . .

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survive the move, but the organization does continue to collaborate with other nonprofits working in the sustainable food realm, including Compost Now, for which The Green Project is now a drop off location for compostable materials. Over the years, The Building Materials Exchange Program evolved into what is now the Salvage Store, a kind of thrift store that encourages reuse by selling donated items, including everything from toilets to power tools. Today, The Green Project’s Environmental Education program, established in 2013, is overseen by Genrich. These educational sessions are free to schools and cover a range of sustainability topics based on teacher requests, with a heavy emphasis on recycling lessons in recent years. The program asks kids to think about things like whether companies should be required to pay for disposal costs, as opposed to individuals who bought the material, or the local government. “It is fun to get kids talking, and inevitably disagreeing, with what they think the right answer is.” said Genrich.

“I, for one, learned a lot about the topic,” related Kathy Pennison, a teacher at Mount Carmel who has been bringing her Interior Design students to The Green Project to practice creative reuse for several years. “For example, I didn’t realize that there were manufacturer disclaimers on the latex paint cans, or that oil paint had to be disposed of differently.” One thing she’s learned through these initiatives, for example, is that allowing paint to dry up in a can—or drying it out with cat litter—makes it safer to dispose of. Though teaching about recycling might seem straightforward, Genrich said that a great deal of thought goes into how to present the information to each school. “Are they actively recycling?” Genrich asks. “If so, what company do they use? Different companies take different materials. Are they monitoring contamination? Do they understand why contamination is bad? The in-class lessons give a range of information on why and how to recycle, but in a school that doesn’t actively recycle, the information we share with students won’t be practiced together at school, and most


RAINE BEDSOLE: WATER AND DREAMS ON VIEW AT THE HILLIARD ART MUSEUM THROUGH DECEMBER 3, 2021

of the schools we work with don’t or can’t recycle.” That challenge, Genrich said, led to the creation of the M.E.S.S. Lab—set to launch in the fall of 2021. Standing for “Math, English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science,” M.E.S.S. is a new hands-on educational initiative with which students can collect their own paint and create and market their own product. “We pre-sort the good from bad paint, but upon opening a can of paint we always double check for quality,” said Genrich. “Then we mix that can and pour the paint through a screen. When our vessel is full, we mix the paints together with an electric mixer that looks a lot like a cake batter mixer. Once the colors are thoroughly combined, we decant them into five gallons, one gallons, and quarts. We name and tag the paints with the date, color dab, name, and price.” After making the paint, students return to the classroom and practice using persuasive writing to advertise their products. “Once those ads are turned in to us, then we put the paint on the floor with the ads to share

the environmental message with the community.” The money from all student paint sales supports the program, while enabling the students to participate in sustainable business and learn about circular economy. Plans call for the program to be self-sustaining after the first year, and to eventually underwrite transportation costs for school groups. “The classroom lessons are learning by listening, and the M.E.S.S. Lab is learning by doing,” said Genrich. “Learning by doing is always going to be more impactful.” h

Though the M.E.S.S. Lab won’t be fully functional until later this year, The Green Project is currently hosting groups to come in and learn about paint recycling, and is also continuing to offer virtual environmental education through its website at thegreenproject.org.

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Cuisine

JUNE 2021

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MASTER

THE

M A T E R ( I A L ) S // 3 5

RECIPE: TOMATO

PIE

// 3 6

TOMATO TERROIR

RESTAURANT REVIEW: VESTAL W

LOUISIANA- GROWN

The Truth About Creole Tomatoes THIS SUN-RIPENED TREAT IS MORE CONTROVERSIAL THAN YOU THINK

Story by Lorin Gaudin • Photo by Lucie Monk Carter

L

ouisianans take their tomatoes seriously. The words “Creole tomato” evoke imagery of da very particular thing: a knobby, vine-ripened, uniquely-colored tomato grown in South Louisiana’s alluvial soil, sprinkled with Mississippi River water, and brushed by hot, late spring air. Some call that Louisiana’s own “tomato terroir.” Everyone calls Creole tomatoes delicious. But what does it mean to be a true Creole Tomato? Turns out, it is a juicy subject. Over the past several decades, the common perception of local tomatolovers is either that the special qualities of the Creole tomato are unique to a specific cultivar, or that any homegrown, vineripened tomato is a “Creole Tomato”. Back in the late 1960s Louisiana State University in fact released a hardy tomato cultivar called ‘Creole’. But LSU’s was not necessarily the same tomato that Louisiana farmers were referring to when they said they were growing Creole tomatoes; in fact, it is more likely that they were growing the “Celebrity” cultivar.

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The Louisiana Department of Agriculture has not regulated how the name “Creole Tomato” is used, and it’s well-accepted that any vine-ripened tomato grown in Louisiana can be called “Creole.” Home gardeners can easily find and grow tomato plant varieties marketed as “Creole”. Technically speaking, though, Creole tomatoes, bolstered as they are by the aforementioned “soil chemistry,” are grown in St. Bernard or Plaquemines Parishes, just down river from New Orleans. “Other tomatoes grown around the state might be tasty, but only tomatoes grown in soil south of Lake Pontchartrain are true Creole tomatoes,” said long-time farmer Ben Becnel. Owner (with his dad) of Ben and Ben Becnel farmstand in Plaquemines Parish, Ben (the younger) said that traditional Creole tomato season “... depends on when it freezes. One year we were growing into February! Usually the season runs from May to January.” As for the tomato’s appearance and color—well, it’s no secret that appearances can be deceiving. Often,

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true Creole tomatoes are gnarled, with a strange green-red color that some might even call “ugly.” Nonetheless, these are heavenly tomatoes, with a sunny-sweet, slightly acidic flavor. “It’s all about the inside, that’s where the flavor is,” said Ben. “Unless the skin of the tomato is broken open, it doesn’t much matter what the outside looks like.” He is particular though, insisting that the most critical thing to verify is that the tomato actually comes from South Louisiana, below the Lake. Good naturedly, Ben quipped, “Tomatoes from Lafayette or Slidell are fine, but they are not Creole tomatoes.” South Louisiana farmers have long called their tomato “Creole” to culturally distinguish it from other tomatoes. These rich, full-flavored tomatoes are grown in alluvial soil (a sandy, silty or clay textured soil that has been deposited by rivers, filled with organic matter mixed in as it moved down river), and vine-ripened because they weren’t being moved long distances. In South Louisiana, uttering the words “Creole Tomato” is enough to evoke powerful memories, stories, gardening

tips, recipes, and rumbling stomachs. In truth it’s about flavor. A beautiful ripe “Creole” tomato is magical, whether eaten like an apple over the sink; stacked with thick slices of sweet onion and a sharp remoulade sauce; or as a simple sandwich. Myths and science aside, there is no denying the exquisite flavor of a South Louisiana-grown Creole tomato, whatever variety. The thirty-fifth French Market Creole Tomato Fest is planned for July 3, 2021 as a hybrid, one-day event with both inperson and virtual activities. If trekking to a fest is doable, this one is typically filled with tastings, chef cooking demos, and of course boxes and boxes of St. Bernard and Plaquemines parish Creole tomatoes. Those not yet festing and not into growing-their-own, should have no problem finding Creole tomatoes at local supermarkets and roadside stands. Restaurants get in on the game too, always quick to craft clever savory dishes, salads and even sorbets, incorporating Creole tomatoes. h *Versions of this story were originally published on WhereTraveler.com and Gonola.com.


RECIPES

Tomato Pie

TOMATOES ARE WONDERFUL ON THEIR OWN, BUT A LITTLE CHEESE AND MAYO NEVER HURT ANYTHING IN THE SOUTH.

Recipe and photo by Alexandra Kennon Ingredients:

Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (I like the ones in the red box, but you can make your own, if you’re fancy.) 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Duke’s, but I know most Southerners have a strong preference, so use yours). 1/4 cup Creole or Dijon mustard 3 large or 4 small Creole tomato(es) A few leaves of fresh basil, torn 4-ish cloves of garlic, minced Approximately half a cup grated Gruyere or fontina cheese Approximately half a cup grated cheddar cheese Approximately a quarter cup grated parmesan, Romano, or other hard, salty Italian cheese Any other cheese you have around that seems like a good fit (because, cheese). Seasoning (salt and pepper of course, but I like to use some Italian seasonings like oregano, and crushed red pepper, too. Season to your liking, I know you will anyway.)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Place pie crust into pie pan, crimping edges with a fork. Poke holes in a few places in the bottom of the crust to vent. 3. Pre-bake crust for around 8–10 minutes, or until light golden (will bake more later). 4. Slice tomatoes to 1/4–1/2 inch thickness and lay out on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Lightly salt them, cover with another layer of paper towels, and let them sit around 10 minutes. 5. Mix your mayo, mustard, shredded cheeses (reserving the hard cheese for the top), garlic, and seasonings together in a bowl. 6. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture along the bottom of the pre-baked pie crust. 7. Top with a layer of tomatoes, and some pieces of torn basil. 8. Top that with more cheese mixture. 9. Repeat steps 7 and 8. 10. Place your last remaining tomato slices and basil on top (I try to save the “pretty” slices for this). 11. Sprinkle with parmesan or other Italian cheese. 12. Sprinkle with seasoning. 13. Cover loosely with foil, and bake for 25–35 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is deep golden brown.

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R E S TA U R A N T R E V I E W

Vestal

RYAN TRAHAN REVEALS HIS MODERN MASTERPIECE IN DOWNTOWN LAFAYETTE

By Jordan LaHaye Fontenot • Photos by Denny Culbert

“I

hfind that restaurants do one of two things: they either take you further into a time or a place, or further out of a time or a place.” Vestal, Chef Ryan Trahan told me, is hmeant to be an escape. Inside the much anticipated downtown Lafayette restaurant— which opened late-April—a hand-painted mural by artist Jason Tait illustrates a scene of revelry—a depiction of the Roman festival Vestalia, which honored Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, home, and family. Limestone plaster walls and zellige tile are softened by jewel-toned velvet cushions and mosaic tabletops. The domed ceiling is an Art Deco nod to the restaurant’s predecessor—the oldest bar in Lafayette, Antlers (opened in 1921). And, on a busy night—as almost every night has been since it’s opened—the room vibrates in conversation, glimmering against the warmth emitted at its center: a massive wood-burning hearth. The entire space was the fruit of creative collaboration, but Trahan attributes much of the vision to Houston interior designer Amanda Medsger. “We wanted the restaurant to center around a fire,” he said. “Fire is something that always brings people together, we find warmth from a fire. We wanted to create something really inviting and soothing for people to kind of escape from their every day. Amanda took a lot of inspiration from that, and from the seafood, trying to create a place that was kind of like having a dinner party or house party behind-thescenes of a mansion.”

When morning came to Louisiana, we were wide awake. Ready for what’s next. And as we begin anew, Blue Cross stands ready to support you. bcbsla.com

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Modernity sings in the space, elevating the seafood and steak concept into totally new territory for Lafayette. Trahan’s menu invites exploration, with a selection of intriguing small plates the likes of ceviche served with salted strawberry, mint, coriander, and lime; squash served with ricotta, brown butter, and sunflower seeds; grilled pork ribs with tamarind, peanut, and coconut cracklin’; and Trahan’s favorite: Wagyu beef tartare with wasabi, oyster mayo, capers, and shallots. And while it would be easy to linger over the share-able delicacies of the menu’s front cover (paired with one of cocktail connoisseur Paige Hanson’s concoctions—I recommend the Mr. Lafayette, myself), it really is worth your belly-space and your time to flip it over for the main courses. When I visited recently, I paired the U10 shrimp and grits with the smoked beef cheek Bolognese lasagna, both options rich in comfort and surprises of their own. But word on the street is that the real gems of Vestal are its steaks—from the forty ounce dry-aged lone bone tomahawk to the Angus coulotte. And each cut is served with bone marrow herb butter. “There’s definitely a heavy French, Italian, Japanese influence,” said Trahan. “But it’s always grounded in Southern sourcing, ingredients, and techniques.” The oysters are from the Gulf, he said, as is much of the seafood. The caviar is from New Iberia, and the cheese is from St. Martinville. “What we can’t source locally, like seaweed for example, we either make ourselves or source the best product possible.” Originally scheduled to open in early 2020, Vestal has already seen its fair share of challenges and setbacks between the pandemic, slowed construction, and delayed shipments. The time granted, though—while frustrating—allowed the team to be really thoughtful about the details, said Trahan. All of the plates, for example, were handmade by a ceramist in New York. The coffee mugs were made by Susan Chiquelin from Pottery Alley in Lafayette. The barware was sourced from flea markets and antique halls across Louisiana. “The time,” said Trahan, “gave us a chance to really refine and create the Vestal experience we wanted.” h

vestalrestaurant.com

What can we build for you?

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Culture

JUNE 2021 38

IF THESE WALLS COULD

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“THERE’S

TALK: THE

A WOODCOCK IN

KID ORY HOUSE

MY FLOWER GARDEN!”

// 4 2

// 4 5

REMEMBERING

CYCLES & SEASONS DR. NEIL ODENWALD

SUNBURNS WORTH

REMEMBERING

//

W

COLLECTIONS

The Kid Ory House

FROM JAZZ TO THE 1811 SLAVE REVOLT, LAPLACE’S NEW MUSEUM EXPLORES A BROAD SCOPE OF SOUTHERN HISTORY

I

Story and photos by Alexandra Kennon

f a poll were conducted asking people to name a great New Orleans Jazz musician from the genre’s early days, the same few names would likely arise repeatedly: Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Domino, King Oliver. Some with an affinity for jazz might throw out Buddy Bolden or Sidney Bechet. Kid Ory’s name might be an unexpected one, because besides his composition “Muskrat Ramble,” Ory’s contribution to the legacy of jazz is primarily remembered as that of a sideman. But according to John McCusker— Ory’s biographer and now the Founder/ Managing Director of the Kid Ory House Museum in LaPlace—to consider Ory’s contribution to jazz as only that of a trombone player on the 1920s records of 38

Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and King Oliver is to not give Ory his due credit. “The future jazz stars that are going to make recordings capturing the zeitgeist of the jazz age—their common musical experience is Kid Ory’s band,” McCusker told me following the Kid Ory House Museum’s grand opening on February 2, 2021. Before they rose to prominence, Louis Armstrong and three members of his famous Hot Five, King Oliver and much of his Creole Jazz Band, Johnny Dodds, and other influential early jazz artists all played in Kid Ory’s New Orleans band. “That’s kind of how Ory was: all of those folks, their common experience was Kid Ory and New Orleans,” McCusker said. He also credits Ory with being the link

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between Buddy Bolden—thought of as one of jazz’s earliest pioneers—and the “ultimate jazz man,” Louis Armstrong. Bolden was Ory’s first major influence, and Ory would later give Armstrong his first regular professional job playing in a New Orleans band. McCusker has spent a great deal of time and research mulling over such nuanced music history questions. He spent fifteen years working on his biography of Ory, Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz (2012), with admitted distractions along the way working full-time for the TimesPicayune and raising three children. His initial interest in New Orleans jazz was born in the early 1990s from a twopart series of articles he co-wrote for the Times-Picayune on its history, which

then led to him curating and leading “Cradle of Jazz” tours beginning in 1995, on which he linked the early pioneering musicians with the New Orleans sites at which they once lived and played. Early on, McCusker said his understanding of Ory was based on what could be found in most jazz history books, which merely touched on Ory’s role as a sideman with the likes of Armstrong and Morton. “But paradoxically, the fact that he’s known best as a sideman obscures what his really significant contribution was, which was developing the polyphonic band sound in New Orleans between 1910 and 1919,” McCusker said. McCusker believes that the kind of polyphonic improvisation born with jazz is emblematic of the United States’ motto: “E pluribus unum,” or, “out of


McCusker has come to believe that, according to McCusker. had at that point been left vacant for a many, one.” “In New Orleans jazz, in fact, these two narratives are In the highly-publicized November decade, was on the market. He pitched the trumpet’s playing the melody, inextricably connected. “The constant 2019 reenactment of the uprising, the story to The Advocate and went to the clarinet’s playing arpeggios and is human experience, whether you’re organized by artist Dread Scott and shoot some photographs to accompany. variations on it, the trombone is talking about 1811 or whether you’re documented by filmmaker John “That was the first time I’d set foot on providing the punctuation, if you will, talking about Kid Ory seventy-five years Akomfrah, McCusker took on the role the grounds, because it had always with growls and slurs and bass figures later,” McCusker explained. “History is of Manuel Andry—the slave owner been shut off, no trespassing signs and and so forth—it’s a conversation,” occupied by human beings. And human whose blood was the first shed in the all of that.” A year later Tim Sheehan McCusker explained. “And no part of beings do the same things that human 1811 rebellion. “I took a hit from a purchased the home, and a historic that is any more important than the beings always do: sometimes they’re machete for the team on that one,” architect he had hired reached out other is. It’s a totally interconnected noble, sometimes they’re not. Sometimes McCusker said. to McCusker for some background thing, and everyone’s saying something they’re downright cruel, sometimes they Aside from both being pivotal information on the house. Sheehan different, but it’s in that differentness— create things of incredible beauty. So, moments of African American history, and McCusker began corresponding going together, tongue in groove—that the stories really aren’t different, you’re it might not initially seem that the in the summer of 2019, and by January the beauty of the music comes together. just seeing different parts of the human history of jazz music and the history of of 2020, the pair had decided to “take And to me that’s the American ideal. experience.” the 1811 Revolt have much in common. a shot and try to put a museum here,” It isn’t one way, it’s many voices, but speaking as one.” Top left: Charlie Halloran on trombone, Brett Gardner on cigar box guitar, and Josh Gouzy on bass played Ory’s famous “Muskrat Ramble” during the official ribbon The uplifting story of Ory cutting at the Kid Ory House Museum grand opening in February. Top right: Johm McCusker’s personal phonograph collection from the era completed the Ory exhibit. connecting some of the Bottom: Charlotte Jones’ “Stomping Grounds” exhibit educates viewers about the role of mules in sharecropping and beyond. greatest and earliest jazz musicians with his leading musicianship is not the only narrative on display at the new museum in LaPlace. The Kid Ory House Museum is housed in one of the oldest structures remaining in St. John the Baptist Parish, on a property once referred to as Woodland Plantation, the former sugar cane farm where Edward “Kid” Ory was born on Christmas Day in 1886. The site is also where, on January 8, 1811, the Haitian slave driver Charles Deslondes led a group of individuals enslaved at the plantation—then called the Andry Plantation—to revolt, attacking plantation owner Manuel Andry with an axe and killing his son Gilbert. Armed with Andry’s guns and ammunition, the revolution continued as a twoday march down River Road to New Orleans, drawing in over five hundred others enslaved at nearby plantations, and growing into the largest insurrection of enslaved people in the history of the United States. Today, the museum is the first stop on Louisiana’s River Parishes Tourist Commission’s 1811 Slave Revolt Trail, which via audio-narrated stops recorded by New Orleansraised actor Wendell Pierce, “follows closely the pathway the original participants took on their journey toward freedom,” from the Kid Ory House, to Destrehan Plantation, down to Jacques Fortier Plantation, where the group encountered military troops and were halted. In 2016, McCusker received a tip that the home, which //J U N E 2 1

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Kid Ory continued . . . “Both stories highlight that a single place, and the people who inhabit that space, can spur a movement with far-reaching effects,” said Charlotte Jones, the Kid Ory House’s Operations and Programming Manager. “The Ory exhibit shows how a boy who grew up in the back quarters cultivated jazz as both a musician and as a uniquely American art form. The 1811 exhibit highlights a different movement in American history, one that began as a march for liberation from a suppressive and cruel labor system.” Presenting such different historical narratives in the museum’s exhibits while being mindful not to glorify “the big house” posed some challenges. McCusker’s fifteen years of research on his Ory biography made the Ory display easy enough to complete. “I’d never designed panels before, but I’ve designed newspaper pages,” McCusker said. “So really all of the panels are designed the way I would have designed a newspaper page.” Then members of the Ory family donated Ory’s trombone and two boxes of music from the 1920s, along with other memorabilia, giving the museum the largest Kid Ory archive in the world. McCusker had a personal phonograph collection from the era that made a perfect addition. Jones, formerly a mule-drawn carriage driver in the French Quarter with a particular affinity for mules and their

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On February 2, 2021, Founder and Managing Director John McCusker cut the ribbon to a soundtrack of Ory’s “Muskrat Ramble,” officially marking the opening of the Kid Ory House Museum in LaPlace.

history, curated an exhibit for the museum called Stomping Grounds about the hard-working equines. When she first visited the Woodland property in early 2020, she and McCusker were chatting in the driveway about Kid Ory and mules when they spotted something and dug it up with a screwdriver. “It ended up being a rusted part of an old equine bit. I already volunteered to do an exhibit on mules for the house, and that seemed to have sealed the deal,”

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Jones said. “I scoured old haylofts in New Orleans, cotton-warehouses-turned antique markets in Mississippi, eBay, and flea markets in Florida for various tack and artifacts that tell the story of the mule.” After incorporating artifacts from Woodland itself—like an antique corn barrel and plow—Jones said the exhibition felt complete. Her mule, Chica, has even found a home at the Kid Ory House since March of 2021, and is available to visitors for pets and

admiration. Curating a display for the 1811 room proved more difficult. But through social networking, historians in special fields began to reach out to McCusker with their own suggestions, many of which were incorporated. It was decided that the 1811 room would be the only room that would be furnished with antiques— with the goal of removing emphasis from the plantation owners and placing it on the enslaved. COVID caused the price


of antiques to plunge, meaning they were able to purchase a period butterfly armoire for a fraction of its usual price for the exhibition. “We were able to get that furniture for pennies on the dollar for what we would normally pay,” McCusker marveled. “Otherwise, we could not have done this exhibit.” The team was able to track down the OryAndry descendants who had the original portrait of Gilbert Andry (the first of the slave owners killed in the revolt), and had a reproduction painting made from the image for the room. The 1811 display continues to challenge the historians involved, according to McCusker. When former volunteer Daniel Senentz Jr. uncovered new information that provided previously-unknown context to the historical narrative, they had to completely scrap and redo the original panels McCusker made. “Particularly when you’re talking about the slave revolt, all of the records are written down by the enslavers. So, trying to find the humanity of the enslaved in that is like trying to get blood from a stone,” McCusker explained. “So that’s why you have to follow hypothesis, and look at other explanations besides in some cases what was originally written in the record.” Those involved in the museum hope they will continue to gain more

context and insight into the storied history of the property. University of New Orleans’ Archeology students have completed initial shovel testing to begin digs around the site of the Kid Ory House. “I can only imagine,” said McCusker. “You’re talking about land that’s been inhabited since the 1720s by Europeans, and before that, Calopesa Indians. So, they could find anything from stuff from one hundred years ago to Indian artifacts, who knows. It’s just a big open thing, and I’m excited to see whatever it is they uncover.” Jones added that she’s particularly interested to learn more about the out-buildings and other aspects of the property beyond the home itself. “Of course, the house itself is an incredible historical resource, but I look forward to learning more about the working spaces—from tenant  quarters to sugar processing—of the plantation, particularly  after the Civil War,” Jones said. Since the Kid Ory House’s opening in February, visitors have ranged from current members of the Ory family to young contemporary New Orleans Jazz musicians. On one occasion, four carloads of Ory descendants from St. John the Baptist Parish came for a tour, and McCusker shot a family photo of the group on the porch of the house. “I’m hoping once COVID’s over, we can have a big family reunion here and

put the genealogy chart up on the wall and everybody can figure out who their cousin is,” McCusker said. On another day, three musicians drove up from New Orleans to take the tour, then took out their instruments and began playing on the porch of the home. “They just wanted to be able to be on Kid Ory’s porch and play some music,” McCusker said. “It was just beautiful, these guys just wanted to be in the space.” Even more poignantly, McCusker hopes that the museum can present the history in a way that is humanizing to all parties, and therefore empowering. “For people of color, I want them to come here and see their ancestors treated with honesty, dignity, and nuance. Treated as people who had all the complexities and contradictions that every one of us gives ourselves credit for,” McCusker explained. “And that everyone be seen as human beings—not masters, not slaves, but as human beings.” While history is frequently viewed as having a linear progression or evolution (for example, transportation technology’s progression from horseback, to trains, to automobiles, to space shuttles), McCusker argues that the cyclical nature of the highs and lows of human behavior through time—at its most noble and most inhumane— is more akin to a revolving helix than a line. “You could say the Kid Ory story

represents the nobility we like to think about ourselves as humans—that we’re creative, we’re improvisational, we want to put something in the world that wasn’t there before we came along—that’s the nobility of humanity. But then when you look at slavery in 1811, and human beings treating other human beings with inhumanity, then you’re seeing the low streak of what man is capable of,” McCusker said. “It’s sort of like a helix that turns around, and you simply see repetitions of human behavior over, and over, and over again.” “What I appreciate about the house is that it is not your run-of-the-mill historic house museum that focuses completely on architecture of the big house, or the family that lived in it,” Jones said. “Though these are important, and we explore that history as well, the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House is unique because it essentially produced two movements of American history much bigger than itself. I hope visitors will take away how one space, and the people who inhabit it, can be a genesis for something bigger than themselves. And, if done correctly, that genesis can be for the better.”

1811kidoryhistorichouse.com

Discover America’s First Freedom March Get the FREE Mobile Passport for an exclusive collection of curated attractions, retailers, restaurants and more, and downloadable audio tour NARRATED BY WENDELL PIERCE.

Follow in the footsteps of the brave revolutionaries who marched from the grounds of a plantation, now the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House, and traveled down River Road to break the chains of oppression.

Explore the interactive map to discover more about the journey of these freedom fighters.

Commemorate Juneteenth as you travel between the two trailhead locations, 1811 Kid Ory Historic House and Destrehan Plantation. Stop at specific points highlighting significant events along the journey, with extended experiences at Whitney Plantation and Historic Riverlands Christian Center.

Learn More at The1811SlaveRevolt.com

LARiverParishes.com

//J U N E 2 1

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IN MEMORIAM

Dr. Neil Odenwald, 1935-2021

A REMARKABLE TEACHER LEAVES BEHIND A LEGACY OF BEAUTY AND GROWTH Story by Kathryn Kearney • Photo by Lucie Monk Carter

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here are two types of teachers in the world: the ones who teach in a classroom, and the ones who live life with a particular grace that others can’t help but emulate. Sometimes, rarely, a person is both. Dr. Neil Odenwald, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the Louisiana State University Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, deeply impacted his field with his extensive knowledge and passion for landscape architecture and horticulture. But Odenwald leaves behind a legacy that goes well beyond his technical expertise.  “I didn’t ever actually take a class from him, but yes, I was a student of his,” said Greg Grant, who worked with Dr. Odenwald during his time teaching at LSU’s Department of Horticulture. “He’s one of those people who was a teacher and a mentor to just about everyone who made contact with him.” In his profession, Dr. Odenwald was a true Renaissance man. “Horticulturists are famous for being great with plants 42

and terrible with design, and landscape architects are famous for being great with design, and bad with plants,” explained Grant, who now works as the Smith County horticulturist for the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service. “Dr. Odenwald was one of those few people who was an outstanding landscape architect and an outstanding horticulturist. So much so, that the plant materials classes were moved from the horticulture department to landscape architecture. Well, that’s ‘cause the head of the landscape architecture department at LSU was also the best horticulturist.” Outside of the classroom, Dr. Odenwald was an esteemed pillar of the plant community. An instrumental figure in the Southern Garden Symposium, he went out of his way to draw top-notch speakers each year and had a knack for seeking out those who shared his fervor for growing things. “If he was teaching you about a specific plant—say he was going through the particular merits of a plant in the garden—it wasn’t just, ‘Okay, here’s a picture of this plant, and it’s very good

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in a garden because it has a very fragrant flower,’” explained Tracey Banowetz, friend of Dr. Odenwald and former President of the symposium. “He would tell you something like, ‘Oh my goodness! You put that flower in your bosom, and you’re going to smell good all day long!’ It would create a mental picture in your mind, it would make you laugh, and it was just the way he related to plants. It was that sort of thing that made him such a good teacher, and that sort of thing that he looked for in speakers of the symposium.” Aside from his three decades at LSU and his contributions to the Southern Garden Symposium, Dr. Odenwald took on the leadership of countless organizations and efforts across the region and accrued a plethora accolades in his field. “He found ways to work through organizations to get changes done, and his being the head of the landscape architecture department gave him opportunities,” explained Dr. William Welch, a professor and horticulturist at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at Texas A&M and

a friend of Dr. Odenwald’s. “I don’t know much more than to say his life made a big difference. And, I think it’ll continue to influence people.” Dr. Odenwald, who served as a member of the Hilltop Arboretum board, was a key figure in the donation of Hilltop to LSU. In 2015, he was honored with the establishment of the Neil G. Odenwald Distinguished Professorship at LSU, which will carry on his legacy by recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, who are “focused on instruction in plant materials, planting design, ecology, and natural systems”. He was also awarded a Medal of Honor from the Garden Clubs of America, and was a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Throughout his life, Dr. Odenwald served as President of the John James Audubon Foundation, as Chairman of Landscape Design Schools for the National Council of State Garden Clubs, and as a consultant on the Time-Life plant materials publications. He has authored several notable publications on gardening and landscape architecture, and was involved in the restoration and preservation of historical gardens across the region, including Afton Villa Gardens, Bocage Plantation, Biedenharn, Melrose Plantation, LongVue Garden, New Orleans City Park, and Rosedown Gardens—to name a few.  Perhaps, though, his most lasting legacy will be the way he inspired others.  “There’s something I’ve tried to do for a lot of my life, and I’ve failed miserably,” explained Banowetz with a cracked voice. “And that is a concept my husband and I call ‘living with grace’. It’s hard to explain exactly what I mean, but it’s a bit self-explanatory. And, Neil did that. Every aspect of his life, he lived with grace. He was kind. You’d never hear an ugly word past his lips. He had a faith in God, and he just had a lot of life, you know. And it was natural—it just came to him so naturally. The way he lived his life was something to aspire to.” h


B I R D WAT C H I N G

Wintering with A Woodcock A TIMBERDOODLE SPENDS THE SEASON IN A SUBDIVISION Story and photos by John Flores

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y wife’s little oval-shaped flower garden, resplendent with calla lilies, giant amaryllis, hydrangeas, and other tropical and semi-tropical variants, rests underneath a red mulberry tree in our backyard. Planted to attract songbirds during the spring migration, the tree spreads out like an umbrella shading the mulched ground below, providing the flowers a reprieve from the stifling Louisiana summer heat. Through the years, the garden’s soil has become rich and loamy. So much so, that when a trowel is sunk into the dirt and the earth is overturned, exposing it to the light of day, creatures of the depths wiggle and squirm to rebury themselves. By fall, the mulberry tree’s leaves cover the garden. Like a warm blanket, they insulate the ground and protect it from winter’s frost, though the terra firma in Louisiana never freezes to the depths it does in northern states.

Each fall, American Woodcock, also endearingly known as timberdoodles, night partridges, bogsuckers, and mudsnipes, make their way south to Louisiana, where at one time there were an estimated forty thousand hunters who pursued them. Today, hunters who respond to the State’s Annual Hunter Participation and Harvest Survey and claim to actively hunt timberdoodles are a tenth of those who participated back in the 1970s. In short, a relatively small group of enthusiasts who enjoy pointing dogs chase woodcock regularly in Louisiana. When other hunter’s harvest them, it’s usually by chance and often ancillary to a rabbit or late season squirrel hunt. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, woodcock numbers have declined one to three percent each year since the 1960s. The primary reason for the downturn is habitat loss in its northern breeding grounds, particularly the East, Upper Midwest and Appalachian Mountains. Woodcock prefer young forests or what’s known in the scientific community as “early successional habitat”. For the past fifty years, as younger forests matured and vast acreages of land were converted to strip malls, shopping centers, roads, and parking lots, woodcock numbers have been inversely impacted. Over the years, this has led to reduced bag limits and subsequently less hunter participation. One thing Louisiana has an abundance of is moist soil and early successional forest. There are vast tracts of tangled bogs, pine cutovers, levees, bottomland swamps, and coastal marsh with oilfield canal bank locations—all tremendous habitat suitable for wintering woodcock. Though fewer hunters are pursuing woodcock these days, Louisiana remains important habitat for the species.

Winter habitat also apparently includes small town subdivisions. This past winter, for whatever reason, a woodcock came to visit my wife’s flower garden, spending a month or so with us. I was in the middle of a business meeting when I received the text message, then the call. Glancing at the number on my cell phone, I could see it was my wife and I temporarily ignored it. A few minutes later she called again. It was then that I said, “Gentleman, please excuse me. I need to take this call. My wife never calls me twice like that unless it is something important.” “Hey Doll, I’m in a meeting, did you need something?” I inquired with some concern in my voice. “Did you get my text and see the picture?” Before I could answer, she excitedly blurted out, “There’s a woodcock in my flower garden!” Yes, it was something important! Very important, in fact! “Oh wow,” I replied, somewhat relieved, but just as excited. “Let me call you back when I’m done.” Of course, I laughed about the interruption, as she and I share a love for nature that includes birdwatching and photography. It occurred to me that the only woodcock I’d seen in the wild were some I helped the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries band while working on a conservation story after dark one

night several years ago, and those that passed through the bead of my over and under shotgun. In this case, we had a live bird twenty feet from our back door. In the days that followed, the bird became cautiously used to our coming and going. We observed the woodcock with great interest, watching it feed and hunker down to rest in our backyard winter oasis. I marveled at how the little bog sucker was able to disappear into the fallen buffy-brown leaves of the mulberry tree just by remaining motionless. I could make out its shape if I looked really hard. And, once I found it, I could see the sun reflect a subtle twinkle in its eyes, set high and to the sides of its head, providing 360-degree vision designed to spot predators. The nice part about having a semi-docile woodcock in your backyard is what you can learn by observing it. It occurred to me that if it wasn’t for their reliance on a myriad of Brittany spaniels, English pointers, German shorthairs, and Llewellin English setters, many hunters would never know this species of upland bird actually existed. We got a kick out of the woodcock’s rhythmic bobbing walk. Just after sunrise, the plump robin-sized bird would walk along the garden’s brick pathways, bouncing with each step. Throughout the day, it would sink its prehensile bill deep into the garden’s moist soil to grab earth worms. Roughly 2.5 to 2.75 inches long, the tip of its upper

An American Woodcock rests in the author’s wife’s flower garden in their backyard in Patterson, Louisiana.

//J U N E 2 1

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Woodcock continued . . . bill is flexible enough that, using both bill and tongue, it’s able to grasp its prey. The little woodcock seemed quite content being alone. We never heard the buzzy peent call the bird is known to make on their singing grounds in the north country. It’s noteworthy to mention that each year, the FWS conducts a Singing Ground Survey, where volunteers spend an evening counting the number of singing males heard on a predetermined 3.6-mile route. The information is used to determine population trends. Our little visitor didn’t overstay its welcome. One morning it was simply gone. Our hopes are that it will come back next year and maybe spread a few “peents” to its friends up north this spring, spreading the word that there’s a southern oasis in coastal Louisiana worth visiting. h

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Escapes

DELIVERED D A I LY

E S S AY

When Summer Comes Back Around THE HOTTEST SEASON RETURNS, WITH RED SKIN AND ATTIC FANS AND THE REX THEATRE

By Ed Cullen

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t one time, my natural world started in January, in cold, damp, North Louisiana, fresh off the excitement and, then, letdown of Christmas. Cold weather yielded to soft spring, and I lost my mind—which is to say I became so distracted by the elixir of spring that I couldn’t keep my mind on anything. Summer came and the natural world wrapped me in a steamy towel. If I forgot that I wasn’t genetically disposed to tanning and went to the beach, my skin burned to an alarming shade of red. Crimson is no exaggeration. One summer, gradual exposure to the sun over three months garnered for me what loosely might have been called a tan. If I pulled the waistline of my swimming trunks out an inch, one might discern two shades of white, the one above the waistline ever so slightly not as white. Creeping up on a tan over the entire summer was hardly worth the effort. The second day of the new school year, a classmate whose tan made his teeth look like upper and lower rows of bleached Chiclets observed, “Wow, didn’t you go outside at all this summer?” Women who don’t tan are said to have skin the color of milk, a high compliment. For men who don’t tan, the best we can do is “ruddy” which also describes a kind of duck. Once, in the outfield bleachers at a baseball game I thought to take my shirt off, be like the other bleacher bums, get a tan. Be cool. My teenage son had doffed his shirt as soon as we’d taken our seats. Genes contributed by his mother allow him to tan. As I was pulling my shirt off, my son howled, “Dad! Please. You’ll blind the batters.” The hilarious lad probably saved the game for our side— unless I’d removed my shirt when only the opposing team came up to bat. May through August and, some years,

into September and October, denizens of the Deep South who are my age survived in the illusion that moving air cooled us. For that to work, we first had to sweat. A lot. The summers of my childhood were to the sound of a deep roar, a sound between that of an approaching locomotive and the engines of a ship at sea. It is a noise impossible to describe if you didn’t grow up “cooled” by an attic fan. I think attic fans may have been the boundary between poor people and really poor people. Middle class homes may have had more than one attic fan. I can only imagine the wind turbulence inside such houses. Then there were people—the super rich—who lived in air conditioned houses. In the dead air and bright heat of summer, visitors had to be tricked into leaving the conditioned air or they would have remained until fall. Not only was the air cool, but, gadzooks, it was dry. One’s clothing had dried completely before being forced back into the sauna of summer outside. The stores downtown and the movie theaters in my hometown of Alexandria were air conditioned with the exception of the Rex theater. The poor Rex suffered the slur that patrons were handed two sticks with their ticket stubs, one stick to sit on and the other to keep the rats at bay. Wasn’t true, of course. There were seats, not the most comfortable but certainly better than sticks. I never saw a rat inside the Rex, but the planted notion of rats in a darkened room took but a slight touch on an unsuspecting arm or neck to produce screams of considerable duration. I don’t run into many people these days who watched movies at the Rex, but when I do, I recall for them the mighty fan high up the back wall and the fact that no one had ever proven conclusively that they’d encountered rats while

watching the Rex’s second-run features. I became a defender of the Rex, probably because I lived in a house where the air was made somewhat tolerable by a mechanical hurricane in the attic. I like to point out than the Rex is where a few of us serious cinema goers saw Lawrence of Arabia (1962). The film may have been sent to the country’s most humble movie house by accident, but the Rex had Lawrence and the Joy, Paramount, and Don theaters did not. With the return of fall and a less punishing sun, coinciding with a dramatic change in temperature and humidity, I was able to venture outdoors without laying on sun block with a house painter’s brush. Thus did the seasons cycle. One played and worked through the heat and cold raking leaves, mowing lawns for money, throwing the afternoon Alexandria Daily Town Talk, reading, going to the movies, building models of airplanes said to have won World War II, and pondering girls. We humans who weren’t girls were lucky to know a marvelous rearrangement of neural molecules that allowed us to see girls transition from special pals to wonderful ... I want to say “creatures” here, but I think that is no longer acceptable in our rapidly changing American language. Girls, in my mind, went from being special pals to, uh, people of equal or superior intellect who made kissing not a family obligation but a mind-expanding act. There. The evolving language is wordy. An evolving world has some of us marking time from March 2020 and The Shutdown. I hate it that we are regarded as two-shot, one-shot, or no-shot people. Can’t we unite as people born of different colors, some who tan and some who don’t? h //J U N E 2 1

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Escapes

JUNE 2021 46

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50

SIX SENSES, HEIGHTENED

NATIONAL CELEBRATION OF FREEDOM AT ALLEN

// 4 8 B E C O M E

ACRES

A G A LV E S TO N

LIBERATION BEACH

K I N D O F F A M I LY //

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Photo courtesy of the artist, Reginald C. Adams.

JUNETEENTH

Absolute Equality for All

THE JUNETEENTH LEGACY PROJECT’S NEW MURAL IN DOWNTOWN GALVESTON PURSUES A NATIONWIDE CELEBRATION OF FREEDOM

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y grandfather always told me that it wasn’t a piece of paper that freed the enslaved people of Texas,” a childhood friend of Sam Collins’ grandmother, Attorney Fay Williams, once told him. “It was the men with the guns.” Born in Galveston, raised in Hitchcock, Collins grew up celebrating Juneteenth with his family. He knew the story—how General Gordon Granger came into Galveston with his troops, two and a half years after Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, to announce and enforce General Order No. 3: “All slaves are free.” “There are all these myths around Juneteenth, around why the slaves of Texas got the news so late,” said Collins. “People say the messenger got killed, things like that. No, the news was not late. It was in the newspapers. In Texas, 46

By Jordan LaHaye Fontenot there was never any intent to abide by the law, to free their slaves. If those soldiers hadn’t shown up, they never would have stopped.” There is a part of the story that Collins never knew, though, until fairly recently. Those men with the guns? They looked like him. “I knew that there were Black soldiers who helped win the Civil War,” he said. “But no one told us that seventy five percent of the forces that came into Texas were Black soldiers.” According to an 1866 report by General Phillip Sheridan, General Gordon Granger was accompanied by 6,500 white soldiers and 19,768 United States Colored Troops on his mission to free the last of the United States of America’s enslaved. “That part of the story never gets told, even by people who value Juneteenth,” he said. “Those men were true freedom fighters, true patriots.” A financial advisor by trade, Collins

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has been active in the preservation community for years, working with historical organizations that include the Hitchcock Heritage Society, the Galveston Historical Foundation, the Galveston County Historical Commission, the Texas Historical Commission, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation—of which he currently serves as a board member. In all of his endeavors, Collins has championed efforts to tell the full story, to challenge the accepted narratives of our history insofar as to encourage more nuanced understandings of where we come from—especially when it comes to the history of slavery. Hoping to gain more recognition of Juneteenth holiday’s significance, in 2012 Collins worked to raise funds, in collaboration with the Galveston Historical Foundation, to create a historical marker at the corner of 22nd Street and The Strand in downtown

Galveston—the former site of the Union Army headquarters, and where General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3. The marker was placed in June 2014. Six years later, in the wake of the nationwide George Floyd protests of 2020 and the accompanying rise of conversations around race, history, and Juneteenth itself—Collins decided to go one step further. In November of 2020, he and Juneteenth Legacy Project Committee Co-chair Sheridan  Lorenz established the Juneteenth Legacy Project (J19LP) nonprofit, introduced with the unveiling of a five thousand square foot art installation titled “Absolute Equality”. Situated on the same corner as the historical marker, at the site considered “the heart of Juneteenth,” the mural can’t be missed. While Collins and I talked in front of it, pedestrians—locals and weekend visitors alike—stopped every


few minutes to study it. World renowned for his public art projects—which include the four mosaic monuments in Houston’s Emancipation Park—artist Reginald Adams designed the mural to present, through “portals,” pivotal moments along the historic journey to “absolute freedom” for Black people in America. The first set of portals establish the African in the new world, honoring Esteban—a slave who accompanied Spanish soldier and explorer Andres Dorantes de Carranza aboard the Panfilo de Narvaez expedition along the Gulf Coast in 1527. Coming ashore on Galveston Island, he is today considered the first African American, first Black Texan, and the first nonnative to enter what is now Arizona and New Mexico. Behind Esteban’s arrival are depictions of enslaved Africans being marched onto ships, and a map illustrating the global routes of the transatlantic slave trade. Leader of the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman extends an arm out to the viewer, guiding the formerly enslaved along the dangerous path to freedom in the late nineteenth century. Against the backdrop of the American flag, Abraham Lincoln reads out the Emancipation Proclamation, while behind him United States Colored Troops march into battle. Most prominently, General Granger sits, issuing General Order No. 3 on June 19, 1866, flanked by the Black soldiers who would deliver the message to the people of Texas. The story continues, the mural suggests, as Americans continue to march onward towards that ideal of “Absolute Equality of Rights” described in General Order No. 3. In the last major portal, a tableau of silhouettes— man, woman, child, of all ages and abilities—walk into the future, wielding the Juneteenth flag. Behind them, Galveston’s iconic Hotel Galvez nods to the island herself, and from above, an astronaut looks out over some unknown planet, representing humankind’s ongoing quest for betterment. Soon, augmented reality features facilitated by the Uncover Everything app (available on Apple and Android phones) will offer educational videos to accompany each portal, expanding upon each moment along the journey. Through the Juneteenth Legacy Project, Collins hopes to encourage Galveston—and by extension Texas, and then by further extension the entire nation—to value this part of our country’s history. “The nationwide inclination to avoid

the uglier parts of our history has allowed this story to get buried, said Collins. “But I feel that it’s a missed opportunity,” he said. “Juneteenth for me is less about enslavement as it is about freedom and opportunity. It is a day of celebration, and it should be for the entire country, because it was the first day that we could all say that we are free. Heck, if we do it right, we could celebrate freedom from June 19 through July 4. And you know, Galveston can throw a party.” This year’s celebrations will kick off on Memorial Day, when the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” Opal Lee—who is the honorary national co-chair of the Juneteenth Legacy Project—will lead a 2.5 mile freedom walk through the streets of Galveston. The ninety-fouryear-old activist has been leading such walks since 2016 when she embarked on a 1,400 mile march from Fort Worth to Washington, D.C. in hopes of acquiring 100,000 petition signatures and congressional support to officially name June 19 a national holiday. Five years later, Lee has now gathered over 1.5 million signatures in support of her efforts. For this year’s Juneteenth celebrations, the island will host the first ever Galveston Island Juneteenth Festival, a “family friendly celebration of Freedom” featuring food vendors, live music, an entrepreneurs showcase, Black artist exhibition, and more. The mural will be officially dedicated at 11:30 am, and a virtual screening of the Juneteenth documentary Celebrate Freedom will also be shown via Zoom on June 5 at 6 pm, followed by a conversation with the filmmakers, Sam Addington and Collins himself. Beyond celebrating the aspiration of true and absolute freedom in our country, the Juneteenth Legacy Project also hopes to create a more prosperous society by telling the whole story, said Collins. “I hope that absolute equality will represent equal opportunities for all, for everyone to have equal opportunity to become their very best self,” he said. “When you are your best self, your family will become its very best family. Your community will become its very best community. Our country will become the very best version of America, and our world will become a better world.” h

juneteenthlegacyproject.com

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SUMMER ESCAPES

On Our Island

HOW OUR FAMILY BECAME A GALVESTON BEACH FAMILY, AND WHY YOURS SHOULD TOO

Photos courtesy of the Galveston CVB.

By Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

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hen we were growing up, we only went to Gulf Shores once. It’s true the sands were white, the waters sparklingly blue. But what I remember most about that trip is that my baby brother would not stop screaming for fear of that snowcolored-sand, and that every time I stepped into the water, I came out with a jellyfish sting. It turned out that we really were, to our core, a Galveston Beach kind of family. It makes sense. After all, it’s where our parents met, where they got married. Hell, it’s where I lived the first six or so months of my prenatal life before being carried away to Acadiana. We felt quite at home there. Still to this day, almost every time we visit, my parents make a point to drive past the monuments of their time on the island as medical residents: their old neighborhood, the pink house, Sonny’s Place. These days, we visit Galveston more often than ever. My brother Joshua moved to the island with his wife in the summer of 2019, and they had their son—my very first nephew—last July. It’s incredible how quickly a four hour drive can go by when there is a fat, toothy baby on the other end. Sentimentality aside, frequent visits have made me appreciate this little Texas isle all the more in recent years: as a destination, but also as a fascinating community with a lively history. Drawing together twenty-five years of at-least annual visits, combined with recommendations from my once-local and newly-local family members and some help from the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, I’ve curated this collection of Galveston experiences worth the ferry ride.

On the Water

Honestly, though, the ferry ride alone is almost worth the trip. My parents really hit the jackpot here when it came to entertaining five small children for cheap: we might as well have been on a cruise to the Bahamas such was the sense of adventure. Upon driving onto the ramp, we’d pile out of the car, loaf of bread in hand. Industrial as it may be, the Galveston ferry gets you up close and personal with the local wildlife. The seagulls can spot a five year old with a Cheeto from a mile away, and you’ll often catch a pod of dolphins leaping along beside the ship. Time it perfectly, and pop open a bottle of champagne from the backseat, and you can call this fifteen minute voyage a sunset cruise if you want to. Galveston gets some flack for its brown-colored beaches. But take a minute to relevel your nose and you’ll find most of the coastline quite clean, and teeming with life. If you’re intending to stay for more than a few hours, I’d recommend steering clear of the often-packed seawall and instead driving out to the more remote stretches along the west side of the island. In some spots, you can even drive your vehicle onto the sand for a tailgate-side sunset watch. Currently under renovation, the beachside of Galveston Island State Park will offer campsites right on the water in 2022. The beaches are great for fishing, but so is the bay. For many of those years visiting Galveston, my dad had a boat, and we’d get a house on the bayside of the island, where excursions out into the brackish waters ensured dinners of fresh redfish, speckled trout, sheepshead, drum, and even flounder. Crabs, too. Our family’s favorite spot for crabbing—we use the old turkey neck and string method—is in the salt marshes around San Luis Pass, though Joshua prefers to climb onto the island’s South Jetty. Don’t forget: anyone over the age of eighteen requires a Texas fishing license to fish or crab in Galveston (starting at $63 for saltwater packages) unless you are fishing in the State Park.

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Where to Eat

For my parents, at the top of any list of Galveston musts is Sonny’s Place. You know Jo’s Bar on Grey’s Anatomy? As medical residents, this was their Jo’s. You can get a burger for under $5 and the beer is known to be the coldest ever. Ruddy and soaked in nostalgia, the place was opened by the Puccetti family in 1944, and is now considered a Galveston institution. After a few closures over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, Sonny’s plans to reopen later this summer following renovations. Speaking of Galveston institutions owned by Italian families, if you’re looking for the classic Galveston dining experience, get yourself a reservation at Gaido’s. From its stead on the seawall, which it’s occupied since the year 1911, the upscale restaurant has maintained its reputation for serving the freshest of the Gulf’s bounty. The shrimp are hand-peeled, the oysters hand-shucked, and each dish is inspired by Gaido family recipes. Then, there is Maceo’s. Opened in 1944 by Galveston crime boss Rosario Maceo, the Spice & Import company has the small grocery feel of yesteryear and smells like oregano. In fact, if you buy a local beer out of their fridge, you get a little whiff of Italian kitchen with every sip. The shelves are stacked with a fantastically curious assortment of house-made seasoning blends and tomato gravies alongside specialty imports of Italian pastas, canned escargot, and a truly thrilling cheese selection. When I walked in recently, two of the owners were sitting in a corner, peeling shrimp to be fried for poboys. Smiling and raising a tail to me, one of them proclaimed: “We make the best gumbo west of the Sabine River!” Other oldtimers worth stopping by include The Original Mexican Café, which claims the spot of the longest continually operating restaurant on the island. It’s got an extensive menu of good old Tex-Mex classics, made fresh daily, and it’s been serving them up since 1916. Then, there’s Queens Bar B Que, where I highly recommend the Smoked Turkey Cliffhanger—a melt-in-your-mouth marriage of melted cheddar and jalapeño cheese, chives, and ranch dressing nestled against a pound of house smoked barbecue. Newer concepts shine on the island too, though. Gypsy Joynt’s flamboyantly creative spread of craft burgers (including the “PMS w/ Blue Ball” which—toppling over with mac and cheese, potato chips, caramelized onions, and bacon—is served with a chocolate dipped blue cake ball) is just about the best hangover cure I’ve ever encountered. Then there’s the Old Moon Deli & Pie Shop, with its play on pub style and ornate portraits of cats adorning the walls. With All Time Low’s “Dear Maria Count Me In” playing in the background, I recently tried their special of the day: a spicy ham sandwich on a jalapeño bun with spicy mayo, gouda, spinach, and pepperoni, all smashed together for a perfectly fresh and satisfying lunch downtown. They’ve also got kombucha on tap and pies that are the stuff of legends. As far as breakfast goes, natural light and café charm thrive in the land of Southern islands. Mosquito Café’s eclectic lunch counter-style menu of benedicts, rancheros, quiche, and omelets absorb the additional sweetness granted by its verdant courtyard, bursting with lush greenery and shaded over by palm trees. Shykatz specializes in homemade breads and pastries, but is beloved for its generous all day breakfast menu. The Sunflower Bakery & Café, too, is a hyperlocal haven of scratch-made locallysourced goodness to start your day. Go heavy with the chicken fried steak and eggs, dainty with the brie and prosciutto omelet, or straight up indulgent with the lemon curd waffle. Speaking of indulgence: I almost never let a visit to Galveston pass by without a stop


at La King’s. Opened in 1976 by the son of a Houston “Old World” candymaker, Galveston’s signature confectionary feels pulled straight out of the soda pop “Candy Man Can” era of the mid twentieth century. The massive store is chock a block full with handmade bonbons and vials of colored sugar crystals. The specialties are still made with old fashioned techniques and antique equipment. Every few hours, the candymakers come out and perform taffy pulling demos, and the ice cream parlour features Texas’s first brand of the good stuff, Purity. Whenever I find myself out on the Strand, I’ll almost always sneak in and order a dark chocolate covered caramel, with sea salt on top. Then, I’ll dream about it for weeks.

Where to Drink

One thing about Galveston that Louisianans will appreciate: you can drink on the street! At least in the historic Strand District you can, with your drink in a plastic cup. Many of the more touristy gift shops will even feature a bar or a large ice chest with a selection of beers and seltzers. If you’re looking for something a bit stronger, the cozy bohemian patio and bar of Brewchachos is worth a skip off the sidewalk for their margaritas. Stuttgarden Tavern, with its three stories and birds-eye rooftop view of the downtown area, offers a massive selection of draft beers, and Waterman’s at Pier 21 boasts the best happy hour on the island with a waterfront view. For truly artistic mixology though, Daquiri Time Out is your girl. From the wellknown classics to interpretations of lesser-known historic elixirs like the Queen’s Park Swizzle (a 1920s Trinidadian rum and Angostura concoction) and Donn Beach’s Infamous Zombie—each cocktail is hand-crafted using fresh, local when possible ingredients and house-made syrups. Finally, if you’re looking to be wowed, the place to be is without a doubt the Tremont’s rooftop. Take in the tallest view of the island while perusing their seasonal menu of craft cocktails and wine offerings. At night, firepits add ambiance and cushioned couches foster fantasies of carefree, high-end luxury. I’ll take another Strawberry-Jalapeño Mexcalita, thank you very much.

For Antiquarians

Did you know that Galveston’s downtown area features the highest concentration of Victorian architecture in the country? From the jaw-dropping opulence of Moody Mansion, The Bishop’s Palace, and the Sacred Heart Church to the ornate facades adorning the Strand district, and then to the collections of historic private homes— there’s more than enough artistry to capture the imaginations of history fiends and dream house romantics alike. It all makes for a perfectly lovely afternoon of wandering, though if you’d like to get closer, the Mansion and Palace offer tours most days. To learn more about some of the island’s most significant historic properties, you can always visit or call the Galveston Historical Foundation. Walking around the Strand, don’t miss the historical markers placed throughout, noting significant sites and moments throughout the island’s history as one of the nation’s busiest ports, as the site of a major Civil War Battle, and the devastation of our country’s deadliest natural disaster, the Great Storm of 1900. Galveston is also the birthplace of Juneteenth, the day that the last of the South’s slaves were officially freed by General Gordon Granger and his troops in 1866. “Absolute Equality,” a new mural created by The Juneteenth Legacy Project, found at the intersection of the Strand and 22nd Street, illustrates the history of African Americans’ journey to freedom in America. [Read more about the Juneteenth Legacy Project on page 48.] And then, finally, my personal favorite pastime when visiting Downtown Galveston: shopping. The boutiques are great sure, but the real gem of Galveston is the island’s proliferation of antique shops. Some are swanky, full of works of art; some are crowded and cluttered and full of unloved treasures; there’s even a warehouse

dedicated solely to nautical antiques, and it has a second floor. Some of my favorite stops are: Big House Antiques, La Maison Rouge, and St. John Antiques. There’s also, hidden behind a door and up the stairs in the building behind the “Absolute Equality” mural a shop called Mamady. It’s worth stopping in to view the truly remarkable collection of African art and collectibles, but even more so to meet Mamady himself, who is a wealth of knowledge on the subjects of African culture and history, and can tell you the story behind each and every piece in his store. Head downstairs, and you’ll find G. Lee Gallery, a wonderful shop featuring the work of Galveston artists exclusively. Last time I visited, I purchased a pen and ink rendering by artist Nina Struthers of St. Patrick Catholic Church, the place where my parents were married. And if it’s art you’re into, don’t sleep on Postoffice Street, the center of arts and culture in Galveston. Grab a coffee at MOD and browse local creations at The Galveston Art League Gallery or the vibrant geometric depictions of Gulf Coast life at René Wiley Gallery, plus plenty more. To experience the arts district at its best, time your trip to coincide with the Galveston Arts Center’s Artwalk, which takes place every six to eight weeks (upcoming 2021 dates are July 17, August 28, October 9, and November 27).

Dig in

If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to go beyond the façade curated for a place’s tourists and to leave with a better understanding of its community, I’d recommend you start with Seeding Galveston. The nonprofit’s heart is it’s farm in midtown, where you’ll likely find John Sessions or Debbie Demmons Berger (and maybe even my brother Joshua, who has become an enthusiastic volunteer), who’ll be glad to show you around. The nonprofit got its starts from the realization that prior to its opening, there was virtually no place to access island-grown produce. Through educational programming, a CSA project, and regular events like Working Farm Suppers, Harvest Mornings, and regular participation in island Farmer’s Markets—Seeding Galveston hopes to initiate and foster a more sustainable culture of urban agriculture on the island. Visitors are welcome, and volunteers even more so. So, if you’re looking to get your hands in some dirt, just head on over. You’ll likely leave with a bagful of peppers. Settled on an acre, the farm blooms with rows and rows of seasonal veggies and herbs. Sessions is even trying to get a cotton crop going. There are chickens, and a massive turkey, and a few mama goats with their babies. And in the back is a towering pile of compost—fed by the nonprofit’s partnership with Keepin’ It Green’s recycling, which recently added compost pickup to their services. They deliver all of the compost they collect around the island straight to Seeding Galveston. Every Wednesday, the public is invited to the farm for Harvest Mornings, which offer the island’s freshest selection of produce while being immersed in the possibilities of urban agriculture. Another organization worth paying a visit to is Artist Boat, a group that facilitates experiences around the island designed to educate and involve residents and visitors of the importance of Galveston’s natural environments. Coastal restoration meets public art in an effort to protect and beautify Galveston’s coastlines. Their work is funded by their Eco-Art Kayak tours, which take participants into the swamps and the bays to experience the wonders of the Gulf firsthand. h

galveston.com

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FLOWERS & FLUTTERS

I Know a Spot

AT ALLEN ACRES B&B, YOU CAN REST, RESEARCH, AND REAWAKEN Story and photos by Lucie Monk Carter

I

n hindsight, the moth wishes he’d eaten more in his carefree caterpillar days. Salads of sweet gum leaves for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and midnight snack had seemed filling in the moment. He’d certainly felt queasy spinning round and round to form his silk cocoon. But then he emerged, and he had no mouth. Would one more medley of leaves have hurt? With a slight upcharge for added bacon? The moth sets aside his regrets. He has one week left to live, and in that time must find a mate. They will not kiss—see above, re: vestigial mouth—but the good family name will carry on. I meet him through his longest legacy, a photograph. He’s lime-green with little eyespots on his comblike wings. He’s called the luna moth, now living in an album alongside 880 other moth species who’ve fluttered through Allen Acres. I knew little about the moth and less about his digestion before I went to this unrestrained nature preserve in West Louisiana, where enthusiasm for the environment is stoked at every turn. Here the titular

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and renowned Dr. Charles Allen, author of a dozen books and identifier of some fifty thousand species, has planted his twenty-six-acre property with bait for moths and butterflies: spicebush and sassafras, milkweed and lantana, rhododendron and Mexican sunflower. The insects hide in tall stands of yellow wild indigo or float down onto a zinnia’s wide bloom. Hobbyist humans arrive in their fluttered wakes and can make camp in a five-room lodge shaded by a glorious buckeye tree that collects hummingbirds. There are valuable classes on plant identification, goofy and gaudy art installations stacked among the trees (e.g. a “Hurricane Warning System” of rusted farm tools dangling from wire), International Moth Week as a grand annual fete, and happy hosts always ready for the smallest of small talk. With my husband and two young children, I spent an April weekend at Allen Acres. We tailed an edible plants class ‘til they steeped fresh-plucked clover for tea, and wound our own way through the trails and into the nearby Kistachie National Forest too. My field notes follow.


Seen:

Gold light on pine trees, lamp light on white sheets

I haven’t slept much this year. At home, when I’m up at five am with the baby, I stare at the glow of my phone. At Allen Acres, the sky’s still gray when I walk out of the lodge for a morning amble. From the porch, I see a lamplight in the distance, bathing a blank white sheet—a sign with no letters. I find more stationed along the trail. These are not roach motels or fly traps but photobooths. The moth is drawn in and the naturalists tiptoes up with a camera. The sun rises and wrestles its way through the close-knit trees as I walk the dewy trail. I meet one of our fellow guests, a teenager traveling with her parents and sisters. She got up earlier than I did to hunt moths in the moonlight. Her cheeks are patched with red and her dark hair curls at the temple as she rushes up to her dad on the porch. She spotted the leopard moth, she tells him, but not the Io moth she hoped for. “Ooh, there’s your hummingbird,” she says to him. I turn in time to catch a blur, the red birdfeeder still swinging.

Heard:

Airplanes, chickens clucking to Jefferson Airplane

Fort Polk is sixteen miles away from the B&B, in Leesville. The occasional training jet overhead drowns out birdsong in the woods. In the faded barn, behind the chicken coop, a boombox blares Jefferson Airplane with their 1967 hit, “White Rabbit.” Grace Slick sings: And if you go chasing rabbits And you know you’re going to fall, Tell ‘em a hookah smoking caterpillar Has given you the call

Felt:

A camera strap and baby carrier around my neck, no ant bites

Carting kids into the country edges their literature out of agrarian fantasy and into the real world. “Look, Mae, a barn, like from the hit book Big Red Barn!” Mae, not yet four, kneels into the grass to photograph a pretty flower, then fiddles with the buttons on her pink camera until a “Happy Halloween” frame appears. The baby, buckled against my body, dangles her feet and points up at a pine tree. I oblige with my own picture. I’ve never visited the Kistachie, Louisiana’s 604,000-acre national forest. We’re at the southwestern edge here and have to duck inside. At the Little Cypress Recreational Complex, one of a handful of recreation areas nearby but the only one not closed by hurricane damage, we hike a half-mile loop while Mae shouts back warnings of ant piles. There’s a playground, and the baby takes her first slide, looking like a logjam, laughing her head off.

Smelled:

Primrose, clover, buckeye, honeysuckle

You really have to nose up to some of these plants to inhale their full aroma. This is where wings and a weight of maybe-an-ounce can help. I’m not the audience for the vast plantings in the meadows and prairie, but I imagine myself lighter here and maybe it’s the power of positive thinking, but I feel it too. What are your dreams when a zinnia is your pillow?

Tasted:

Chinese food, yard eggs

Allen Acres reserves plenty of hospitality for humankind. We have lunch in the main house, where Dr. Allen’s wife, Susan, is cooking up a feast. The tables in the front room are lain with leaves, but these are for the edible plants class to enjoy. (I steal a look at the cards: mugwort, hawksbeard, mouse-eared chickweed. I failed at vegetable gardening last summer, but maybe the real salads were in my yard all along.) We’re treated just as fine, with sweet-and-sour pork, fried chicken, and broccoli salad. The morning brings yard eggs from the noisy chickens (try psychedelic rock instead of hormones for the best yolks). We munch biscuits spread with jam, as Dr. Allen gets comfortable in an armchair and schools us with a few dozen facts about entomology, clicking through his PowerPoints.

Known:

Plant names, insect features, roadside wonder

The names of these insects! Their patterned bodies and strange, short lives! Here’s what they eat, how they’re spotted, where they’re spotted. Emerald, horsehead, viceroy, and queen. I buy one of Dr. Allen’s books, on wildflowers, and don’t leave without an autograph. And Allen Acres’ leaves its own signature on me. As we head back down the highway, I see a spiky purple plant in the ditch that never would have caught my eye before or at least wouldn’t keep my attention. A thistle, the guidebook tells me. It’s a springtime eruption. With salt and patient peeling, you can eat it. Suddenly, I see them, tall and unwieldy and odd, for miles out my moving window. I yell out each sighting. Thistle! Thistle! This’ll be a wider world from now on. h

allenacresbandb.com // J U N E 2 1

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Guardian of the Wetlands ARTIST JOHN TAYLOR IS ONE OF THE LAST ADVOCATES FOR THE BAYOU BIENVENUE WETLAND TRIANGLE By Lauren Heffker

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rowing up, lifelong Lower Ninth Ward resident John Taylor spent his childhood wandering into the underbelly of the bayou adjacent to his neighborhood, then emerging with whatever wild things he could wrangle up. Earning nicknames from his neighbors like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, he’d go crawfishing, crabbing, and trapping for snapping turtles, rabbit, and nutria, or foraging for herbs and roots to sell at market; what game scraps he couldn’t sell often made it onto his family’s dinner table. Today, at age seventy-three, Taylor still spends his long hours wading through those same woods, more at home there than within the confines of his Royal Street shotgun. These days, though, the stomping grounds of his youth look much different, and instead of returning home with a newly expired haul in hand, he collects massive, misshapen pieces of driftwood to carry back, along with any other debris that catches his eye. The salvaged largesse then lands upon Taylor’s front porch, waiting to be carved and whittled into walking sticks, a trade he learned from his father. The works of art created by the New Orleans naturalist, storyteller, and artist were the subject of the recent exhibition, Guardian of the Wetlands: Works by John Taylor, at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, presented by the museum and the National Wildlife Federation. His body of work reflects a lifetime of exploring the rapidly changing landscape of his home, calling to attention Louisiana’s extensive wetland loss. Many may find the environmental history of the Lower Ninth Ward surprising, mostly because native elders like Taylor are likely the only ones left who can call to memory the sprawling image of the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle, the onceflourishing freshwater cypress swamp that stretched from the Lower Ninth to Lake Borgne and provided a profusion of natural resources for the neighboring community up until the early sixties. Then, as a result of destructive manmade levee and canal

construction—such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet shipping channel, for example—the wetlands became saltwater marsh, its reduced remains are referred to as a brackish “ghost swamp.” But before the hulking cypress became shrunken, hollow husks, before the deterioration and erosion— the neighborhood once resembled rich rural bliss, with blackberry bushes, mulberry trees, wild onions, peppergrass, and poke sallet growing along the natural levee; hyacinth lilies dotting the water’s surface. At Taylor’s household, he and his siblings— four brothers and six sisters—tended to fig and pumpkin trees, mirliton vines, and even helped raise chickens and a pair of hogs. “The Ninth Ward was almost like the country then,” Taylor said. “All these wild things were what people used to cook, you know, this stuff was what actually would keep people alive when they didn't have money to buy food, and so they’d go out and hunt around,” he said. Taylor has made a living on the water his entire life, from his early days catching game and seafood to working on the river barges, tugboats, and shrimping trawlers as an adult. Even during his few brief stints away from the city he lived on a coast, and always ended up coming back. “Well, I was married three times so every time I got a divorce, I got the hell out of the city,” he explained. But as a boy, Taylor dreamt of being a game warden when he grew up; it was a path he was held back from pursuing, though, because “there were no Black game wardens,” he was told, leaving a hurt that still resides when he recalls the memory. Among renewed cultural interest in coastal sustainability today, however, he bears the prestigious title of Wetlands Specialist for the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development. “If I could turn it back right now, to the way it was, you know, to undeveloped land and they didn't want to do anything with it, I’d go put up right in the middle of it,” Taylor said. “That would be wonderful. That would be a nice way to die, the way I wanted to live.” h

Learn more about the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development at sustainthenine.org. Read more on Taylor as an artist and advocate at: ogdenmuseum.org/exhibition/johntaylor

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John Taylor, Walking Stick 1. Courtesy of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.


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