Country Roads Magazine "Myths and Legends Issue" October 2021

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Choose the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion A cancer diagnosis can be challenging to navigate, but you don’t have to face it alone. Choose the team of specialized speciali physicians at the Breast & GYN Cancer Pavilion, a partnership with Woman’s Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. Our experts utilize the most advanced technology and treatment options, have access to an array of national clinical trials and provide invaluable supportive services in a single location convenient to you. To schedule an appointment call 225-215-7600 or visit


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Anyone who travels to Louisiana knows our cookin’ is a big attraction. Our state has its mainstays-offthe-freeways like everybody else. If you’re looking for authentic Louisiana flavor—the eats and treats you hear gossip about—you’ve got to explore the byways-and-highways of the No Man’s Land Food Trails! Day-trippin’ the gas station eats of No Man’s Land offers a slice of southern hospitality, tasty scenic landscapes, and several big bites of what you came here for.

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ROUGAROUS AT THE READY Monster mashes, corn mazes, and more

REFLECTIONS Keeping the “Story” in “History” by James Fox-Smith


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EVANGELINE ENDURES Deconstructing Louisiana’s most beloved literary legend by Lauren Heffker

THE PASCAGOULA ABDUCTION Alleged alien abductee Calvin Parker tells all. by Alexandra Kennon

James Fox-Smith

Associate Publisher

Ashley Fox-Smith

Managing Editor

Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

Arts & Entertainment Editor

Alexandra Kennon

Creative Director


Kourtney Zimmerman

In the Point Blue pauper’s graveyard, little legacies live on. by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot

On the Cover


Cheré Coen, Burton Durand, John Francois, Tom Guarisco, Ashley Hinson, Chris Jay, Olivia Perillo, Harriett Pooler, George Rodrigue, Federico Villasenor


Cover Artist

Cover image by George Rodrigue

George Rodrigue

While preparing for our annual Myths and Legends issue, with Longfellow and spirituality and legacy on the mind, our editorial team suddenly remembered the origin story of George Rodrigue’s beloved motif, The Blue Dog. As detailed in a conversation with Wendy Rodrigue transcribed on page 8, the venerable artist originally painted his striking, stalwart pup as none other than Louisiana’s own boogie man, the rougarou. In our cover image, titled “Virtual Reality,” Rodrigue’s contemporary interpretation of one our region’s oldest scary stories meets the artist’s own legend of origin, Evangeline—the archetype of the Cajun story and the very first myth captured by Rodrigue’s brush. In an issue of myth centered on origin stories, Evangeline gets her moment, as do her Acadian descendants who had the opportunity years later to stick it back to the British in the Revolutionary War, and others whose graves still spark wonder in a remote corner of Point Blue. Curiosity extends even beyond, though, to prehistoric civilizations and visitors from other worlds. And as always, we remain enraptured by the local legends, in the forms of forgotten pastries and lost treasure, attic galleries and nocturnal pollinators. Here in the South, we are a storytelling sort, which makes the Myths and Legends issue one of our favorites.



BLACK FOREST CAKE Chef Shorty Lenard’s cherry-less confection by Chris Jay


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UNEARTHING PREHISTORY Frank McMains probes at ancient civilizations by Tom Guarisco

OUR BRILLIANT BATS LDWF’s efforts to protect our region’s vulnerable and integral bat population by Harriett Pooler

ACADIANS FOR AMERICA The Opelousas Post Militia in the American Revolution by John Francois


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THE ATTIC GALLERY A fifty-year-old arts haven in Vicksburg by Cheré Coen

PERSPECTIVES Cayla Mattea Zeek by Ashley Hinson



Sales Team

Heather Gammill & Heather Gibbons

Custom Content Coordinator

Lauren Heffker

Advertising Coordinator

Laci Felker


Dorcas Woods Brown

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ne of my most vivid childhhood memories is sitting hup in bed listening to my grandfather’s heavy tread on the stairs, coming to read me a bedtime story. The bedroom is tiny, with a steeply slanted ceiling and two single beds set on either side of a little window that peeps out under the eaves. My sister, who must be about five, is wedged into the other bed with a collection of teddy bears. It’s dark outside, stormy and cold—maybe even cold enough to snow, a thrilling possibility for a couple of kids come all the way from Australia to visit their English grandparents at Christmastime. There’s a book on the covers: a heavy, hardback volume filled with stories of kings and queens from across the arc of history and named—what else?—Kings and Queens. When Grandpa comes in, smelling of port and pipe tobacco, he’ll lower himself onto the little bed and ask who it’ll be tonight: Genghis Kahn? Alexander the Great? Eleanor of Aquitaine? Mary, Queen of Scots? After vacillating between Alfred the Great and Montezuma, King of the Aztecs, I settle on Alfred. But it doesn’t really matter because whichever story I choose will be a roller-coaster ride of battle, intrigue, betrayal, and probably a disembowelment or two. As Grandpa’s


tobacco-stained thumb turns the pages and, in his Home Counties English accent, he begins to read, the walls and slanted ceiling of the little attic room fade to black, to be replaced by knights, castle keeps, and invading hordes in horned helmets. Once again, we are in the hands of a master storyteller—one who, literally, wrote the book on such things. My grandfather, R. J. Unstead, wrote history books for children. Between 1955, when his first book Looking at History came out and proceeded to sell eight million copies, until 1983’s A History of the World, he wrote more than forty. By the late seventies there was likely a copy of an R. J. Unstead history book in every library in Britain, and probably in most kids’ bedrooms, too. There were plenty in Australia and other corners of the Commonwealth as well, although how widely circulated they were in the United States I am not sure because they were written from a very English perspective. Why were they so popular? Under titles like From Cavemen to Vikings, The Story of Britain, and Invaded Island, Grandpa introduced young readers to the broad arc of human history by telling stories of its defining figures—the men and women whose quests for survival, knowledge, discovery, conquest, power, wealth, and influence shaped the world and resonate down through the ages. A former schoolteacher, Grandpa knew a thing or two about how to capture, then keep, the attention of a school-aged child: pick a

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larger-than-life character (Marie Antoinette, Akhnaten of Egypt), and tell the story of his or her life against a backdrop bristling with as many battles, enemies, castles, and Viking-filled longboats as he could wring from the historical record. Then, fill the picture out with colorful observations about life as it might have been lived in whichever milieu the story was set. So, whether you happened to be reading about Saxon England or Mongol China, you knew there’d be enough details about golden hoards, beheadings, vengeful gods, weird medical treatments, and medieval toilets to keep even the most book-averse ten-year-old transfixed. The result: by the time of his death in 1988, books by R. J. Unstead had sold more than twenty million copies, and for two generations of kids at least, history had become a thrilling thing that they couldn’t get enough of. All this has been rattling about in my head since my wife stumbled across a recent article about my grandfather online. The funny thing about that—and indeed the point of the article—is that for an author whose books made him a household name for generations, there is not much online about R. J. Unstead at all. His books are out of print of course, but as the piece’s author, an English historian and writer named Dominic Sandbrook, posits, the main reason there’s little online to mark R. J. Unstead as a “serious” author, is that he wrote for children. There’s also the fact that, by the time of

my grandfather’s death in 1988, the sun had well and truly set upon the British empire that had been the backdrop to his coming-of-age and had formed his understanding of the world. Consequently, the conservative, resolutely Anglo-centric lens through which his books tended to regard it, had fallen from favor. He had come to be seen, Sandbrook writes, as the ‘Unacceptable Face of History.’ The last time I saw my grandfather was in 1985. I was fifteen—oblivious to battles brewing over the way history gets taught in British educational settings and past the age for bedtime stories anyway. He had stopped smoking a pipe by then and sales of his last book A History of the World had been disappointing, but he still told a hell of a story. The last night of that visit I sat on the floor of their living room while he told story after story about his experiences in France, Italy, and Egypt during World War II. Just like his history books for children, Grandpa’s war stories were a minefield littered with facts and small observations—about the food or the music, the bawdy limericks and the soldiers’ songs—that not only made his stories fun to hear, but allowed me to imagine I was seeing, hearing, and smelling those places with him. Perhaps his way of telling history had fallen from favor but the storyteller still had it, and his listeners and readers were infinitely the richer for it. —James Fox-Smith, publisher

Special Advertising Feature from Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center

A Young Mother Bounces Back from Breast Cancer With 2021 marking the 50th anniversary of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, we’re sharing patient success stories that show the impact of compassionate cancer care.


f anyone knows how it feels to be busy, it’s a working mom with a newborn. That’s where Gonzales resident Jennifer Brooks found herself in the spring of 2020 when she and husband, Vince, were navigating the joyful—and exhausting—new rhythm of raising their baby girl, Austen, born that March. After recovering from a Caesarean section, Jennifer went to her OBGYN at Woman’s Hospital for an annual check-up that summer, and received a clean bill of health. But two weeks later, she felt an uncomfortable lump in her breast while putting on a sports bra. “The last thing I had time for, or wanted to do, was to have to go sit in a doctor’s office just to be told I was healthy,” says Jennifer, then 35. “But something told me to go get it checked out.” After all, says Jennifer, life was different now. She had an infant, and as someone in her thirties, she was taking her health more seriously. “When you’re in your twenties, it’s easy to ignore your body. You think you’re invulnerable,” Jennifer says. “But now in my thirties, I wanted to take better care of myself.” Jennifer’s lump was biopsied, and a little over a week later, the results revealed she had Stage 3C breast cancer. In the blink of an eye, this first time mom’s focus went from adjusting to parenthood to adjusting to a cancer diagnosis. “It was a shock,” Jennifer says. “But I had a dream team of doctors, and a plan for how to address it. Everything was explained very clearly.” There was no question that Jennifer would remain in the greater Baton Rouge area for her treatment, she says. While she and Vince are both transplants to Louisiana, they felt most comfortable and supported in their adopted home and were grateful for a quality care option here.

Following a mastectomy, Jennifer underwent 16 rounds of chemotherapy at the Breast and GYN Cancer Pavilion, a partnership between Woman’s Hospital and Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. “Because it was during COVID-19, I had to be there alone, but everyone who took care of me was so supportive and nurturing,” Jennifer says. Jennifer’s faith and positive attitude helped her stay strong throughout her chemo treatments. Her body responded well; she was buoyed by the excitement of watching baby Austen grow. But her treatment wasn’t over. Jennifer would also receive 33 rounds of radiation therapy at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Gonzales.

“When you have to go pretty much daily for radiation, it’s nice to be really close to home,” Jennifer says. “I loved the team there. I received so much personal attention and compassion.” Three months ago, Jennifer completed her last treatment and is now cancer free, thanks in large part to early detection. She returns to Mary Bird Perkins’ campus on Essen Lane each month for follow-up appointments.

Photo by Ashley Riddle

The road hasn’t been easy, Jennifer says, but now she and Vince can return their focus to Austen, an energetic toddler with a mind of her own. “Mary Bird is an extension of my family at this point. They’ve been through a very personal time with me, and they’ve cheered for me and felt emotions with me,” Jennifer says. “Without them, I wouldn’t be alive to celebrate milestones with my daughter.”

Learn more at

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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





Here is an edited (for clarity and brevity) transcript from a recent conversation we had with the late George Rodrigue’s wife Wendy regarding our October 2021 cover image, “Virtual Reality,” (1992) and the role of myth in George’s expansive body of work. Read more about Rodrigue and Evangeline on page 32.


he first thing that comes to mind when I think about the Evangeline story is the Rodrigue brothers. George was descended from four Rodrigue brothers, who actually walked from the little community in Grand Pré in Nova Scotia all the way down to South Louisiana. And so, as you can imagine, that history was very important to him. So, this whole idea of Evangeline and that journey—in the case of the Rodrigue brothers and the Cajun people, they were searching. They were on a journey to find a new home. And of course, in Evangeline’s case, she was searching to find Gabriel, to find her love. So that sort of a connection kind of leant itself unequivocally to the romance of the whole Cajun tragedy, as well as hope that there is a light at the end of that journey. “So, if you look at many of George’s paintings—including ‘Virtual Reality,’ there is this light in the distance, this swirling light. For George, that distant light represented this hope. He tried to represent this intangible concept of hope for a better tomorrow, not just for the Cajuns, not just for Evangeline, but for everyone. I always loved that. “The myths were very important to George. Evangeline was the first legend he painted. When Evangeline is pictured, sometimes her body gets wrapped up into the tree, glowing like a ghost. And who better to represent these glowing ghostly Cajuns of the past than Evangeline? The ultimate Cajun glowing ghost. “As for the Blue Dog—which of course also grew out of a myth, the rougarou—it all began when he was little boy, and his mother used to use the loup-garou threat. She used to tell him, “Baby George, if you’re not good today, the loup-garou’s gonna eat you tonight.” “Later, in 1984 he was illustrating a book of Cajun ghost stories called Bayou for the 1984 Worlds Fair in New Orleans. And that myth was one of the stories in there. What he did is he wanted to come up with the image. He went to


his photo files. He always worked from photographs even though he always fabricated his scenes. He had these photos of a dog he had had years before. She had been dead for years at that point. To photograph her, he used to lie down and get eye-level with her. He used to say that he wanted to photograph her in that way to show that she was just as important as a person. They had this exchange. The result was that it sparked his imagination when he was thinking about painting this legend. He thought, okay I’ll paint something that is equally important. That’s why this isn’t a little dog down at our feet. Like in ‘Virtual Reality,’ the dog is as important as Evangeline. Of course, now the Blue Dog has become something else. It’s not the rougarou ultimately, even though George originally painted it that way. It became something all its own. “So, in looking at this particular painting, at “Virtual Reality”—George was very intent on his technique and his compositions being symbolic in some way of the message he was trying to get across. In this case, he was trying to preserve the Cajuns, right? He was trying to tell a story of their journey. ‘Virtual Reality’ is a very surrealistic and contemporary interpretation. There wasn’t even such a thing as ‘virtual reality’ when he painted this. George would always say that his paintings—all of his paintings—were all about contrast. So, you’re contrasting, for example, the hard edges of the trees and of the figures—whether it is the dogs or Evangeline or the candlesticks—with this very loose impressionistic, painterly interior of those same items, or of the bushes or of the land. Then there is the contrast, obviously, of the light versus dark. And the contrast of this mythic romantic history of Evangeline with the more contemporary interpretation of the Blue Dog, also grown out of a myth, from the rougarou. Intertwining these two, it really only makes sense that they would meet up in this surreal, imaginary world of George’s creation.”

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George Rodrigue. “Virtual Reality,” 1992. Oil on linen. 24 x 20 Inches. Private Collection. Courtesy of Rodrigue Studio.



t’s no secret that music is in the heart and soul of the Crescent City. It’s in the air, on virtually every single street hcorner. So when, for the second year, COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the beloved New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, many hearts broke a little. After an already financially difficult year for musicians, the loss of yet another major gig was devastating. Then comes NOLAxNOLA. Set to take place between October 7 and 17—the dates on which Jazz Fest was scheduled—NOLAxNOLA will present a series of concerts at venues throughout the city. A partnership between participating venues and New Orleans & Company, the series is designed to support local musicians and music venues, while also keeping New Orleans’ musicmaking spirit alive in the wake of the pandemic’s

challenges, uplifting the arts and bringing them back to the forefront of life, and bringing them back safely. Attending a NOLAxNOLA event will require proof of a COVID vaccine or a negative PCR test taken within three days of the start of the event. Using measures like these, organizers’ goal is to ensure the safety of performers and attendees alike, while also keeping the flame of live performance burning strong through another difficult year. Concerts include Algiers with Ganser at Gasa Gasa, Anders Osborne at Tiptina’s, Dylan Miles Experience at Voodoo Two Lounge, Higher Heights at Café Negril, moe. at the Civic Theatre, and many more. For tickets and a full artist lineup, visit —Laci Felker

The Great DeltaTours



n one of the excursions hoffered by The Great Delta hTour Company, guests are taken dockside to the Bayou la Loutre in the coastal village of Ycloskey, where oyster fisherman Don Robin hosts a bayou-side chat. With oyster, shrimp, and crab boats passing as a backdrop, Robin tells of his Isleños heritage, and how his ancestors founded Ycloskey. Then, he’ll grill up oysters straight from the boat. Over the last year, on some occasions guests will look up to the hole in the roof of the covered dock and ask what it is from. “Oh, that was Zeta,” he says, illustrating—through a rugged glimpse of sky where it shouldn’t be—a harsh reality of life here in the Louisiana Delta. In the wake of recent Hurricane Ida, Louisiana’s seafood industries are picking up the pieces once again. Entire communities are only just now able to access livable conditions, as power is turned back on and sewage systems come back online. Clean up won’t be finished for months— in some cases, years. Birds are emerging from parts of the Gulf soaked in oil. The already-alarming rate of coastal erosion has only been accelerated by the many recent storms. And it’s only the beginning of this year’s hurricane season. This is life in coastal Louisiana. And for outsiders, it may be difficult to understand why the people who live here fight so hard to make it work—why we invest billions in seawalls and levees and pumps to make our cities livable, and why sometimes we have to live with holes in the roof. By introducing visitors to people like Robin, or taking them into the verdant marshes right outside of the hurricane levees, or to see up-close the current wetland restoration projects of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority—The Great Delta Tour Company aims to share a little bit of what it’s like to call the fragile Gulf Coast home. “They see it first hand,

which I think is really impactful, for people to really experience what it’s like here, what we are dealing with—to walk in our shoes for a day,” explained founder Barbara Johnson. Following Ida, Johnson said that she feels that the work of The Great Delta Tour Company is more important than ever. “We are on the front lines of climate change,” she said, of coastal Louisiana as a whole. “This is where it is happening.” For people around the country who are concerned about environmental issues, she said, Louisiana is where they can see and experience the biggest impacts, where they can come to understand the stakes at hand. “In our tours, we tell the story of how the Mississippi River has impacted us: who we are, our culture, our people, our land. What are the challenges of living in this Delta system? How have these storms and this land loss affected our communities?” More importantly, Johnson said, she wants to showcase how we in South Louisiana are leaders in conversations on climate adaptation. “We are building a whole new economic engine around water and environmental management here,” she said. “And we are masters of disaster.” By showing some of the major work being done to protect the communities and wetlands of this region, Johnson hopes to send visitors home with a renewed impression of Louisiana’s role in the future for our warming planet. Ultimately, though, for any of this to matter, the tours have to show outsiders why we stay. Why we love it here. So, they also place them in the way of diving pelicans and stalking alligators, into the darkly beautiful wetlands we hold dear, and onto the Bayou la Loutre—with a fifth generation fisherman, cracking open a fresh oyster. —Jordan LaHaye Fontenot // O C T 2 1


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for more fun than we can t in these pages

The Yellow Leaf Arts Festival in St. Francisville runs on a full tank of small-town charm. This year’s featured artist is ceramicist Denise Greenwood Loveless, pictured above. Plus, Louisiana Poet Laureate Mona Lisa Saloy will perform a reading of her work. See listing on page 30. Image courtesy of Arts for All St. Francisville.


OCT 21st


For the debut exhibition in the Shell Gallery in the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s brand-new Cary Sausage Community Arts Center, the Arts Council celebrates the diverse talents of its members—from painting, to sculpture, to textiles, and beyond—and the inspiration they provide. Monday– Friday from 8:30 am–4:30 pm. Free. k


OCT 31st


From the pen of a poet who never stepped foot in Louisiana to a symbol of the Acadian identity, the heroine Evangeline has endured into the twenty first century in many forms. The West Baton Rouge Museum’s exhibition Evangeline: Evolution

of an Icon explores the evolution of Longfellow’s maiden in Louisiana culture and her inf luence on other artists over the past two hundred years, including Francois Gaudet, Rémi Belliveau, Melissa Bonin, and George Rodrigue. Read more about the West Baton Rouge Museum exhibition and Evangeline’s enduring place in Louisiana culture in Lauren Heffker’s story on page 32. k


DEC 11th



CHEERS BREW AT THE ZOO Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Toasts with tigers and cheers with the cheetahs. Brew at the Zoo promises a wild time, with all proceeds benefiting Friends of the Baton Rouge Zoo. Tastings from dozens of craft breweries, dishes from local restaurants, plus full servings of food throughout the zoo, music, and wild scenery. Safari chic/casual attire. 7 pm– 10 pm. $50 General Admission; $100 VIP; $20 Designated Drivers. Ages 21 and older. k

Port Allen, Louisiana

Louisiana artist and architect Stan Routh’s life’s work has been to memorialize the spaces and icons around him through original paintings, sketches, and watercolors depicting the cities and towns of his home state. At the West Baton Rouge Museum, Routh’s architectural watercolors and drawings are currently displayed in the Perkins Gallery. k



1st - OCT 2nd


It’s worth taking a spin northward to Natchitoches for the annual classic car show, which attracts scores of glittering, beautifully turned-out examples of 1950s rolling stock from the heyday of American automotive excess, to picturesque Front Street. Poker


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November at



Beginning October 1st Run Friday from noon; fish fry with live music from 5:30 pm. On Saturday the car show proper opens at 7 am, with live entertainment on three stages throughout the day, and awards announced at 4 pm. These shows continue to get bigger and better every year, so this year’s is guaranteed to be a hit. k


1st - OCT 3rd


Tab Benoit ’s Swampland Jam

NOV 10 7:30 PM

Tab Benoit leads an all star band featuring three giants of Louisiana Roots Music Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Johnny Sansone, and Waylon Thibodeaux.

Port Barre, Louisiana

The Tour du Teche is back for another year after postponing their 2020 annual race. It’s not for the faint of heart, with 135 miles to cover in just three days, spanning the entire length of Bayou Teche. Complete with nightly festivals at each stop, this will be an event you don’t want to miss. The competitors have a chance to win cash prizes, trophies, and bragging rights in one of the longest canoe races in Louisiana. $125 entry fee. All day. k


1st - OCT 3rd


Peabo Bryson NOV 21 7:30 PM

Peabo Bryson, the legendary voice of love, is back, and music has never been happier. Peabo is not just “back”, he is back and collaborating with powerhouse producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for his 21st album titled “Stand For Love.

You know what they say: “If animals weren’t meant to be eaten, why are they made out of meat?” To get your fix, head to The Red Barn in Abbeville for this seventy-two-yearold festival of all things bovine. In addition to steaks, burgers, roasts, brisket, tongue and other meaty eats, festival-goers should expect arts & crafts, a Grand Parade, livestock shows, an “Anything Goes” cook off, two stages for fais-do-do-ing, and a Cattle Queen, of course. Gates open at 5:30 pm on Friday with great ceremony. $5 gate fee on Friday (‘til midnight); $10 on Saturday (11 am–midnight); no gate fee on Sunday (11 am–5 pm); children 10 and younger are free all weekend. k


1st - OCT 15th


Get tickets today! M A N S H IPT HEAT R E.O R G

( 2 2 5 ) 3 4 4 - 03 3 4 @MANSHIPTHEATRE

Supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency. This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, funded by the East Baton Rouge Mayor-President and Metro Council.


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New Orleans is filled with entertainment on every corner, but if you’re ever by the French Market, here are some free concerts to catch: October 1: Patrice Fisher and Arpa with Alejandro Junco Romero and Juan Soto Brown. Free. Noon–2 pm. October 8: Manuel Arteaga Dúo. Free. Noon–2 pm. October 15: Julio and Cesar. Free. Noon–2 pm. k


1st - OCT 23rd


The famous Tchoupitoulas venue is open and swingin’, bringing a wide variety of New Orleans’ favorite musical acts to Professor Longhair’s legendary stage. Proof of vaccination for COVID-19 or negative PCR test required to enter. Here’s what’s happening this month: October 1: Lost Bayou Ramblers & 79rs Gang. 10 pm. October 2: Sweet Crude & Cha Wa. 10 pm. October 7: Anders Osborne: 30 Years at Jazzfest. 9 pm. October 8: Turkuaz. 9 pm. October 9: Boyfriend Featuring Members of The Revivalists (this is a late night Friday, early Saturday show). 2 am. October 9: Galactic Featuring Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph. 9 pm. October 10: The Word Featuring John Medeski, Robert Randolph, Luther & Cody Dickinson, and Rayfield “RayRay” Holloman. 9 pm. October 12: Dragon Smoke. 9 pm. October 14 & 15: St. Paul & The Broken Bones. 9 pm. October 16: Galactic Featuring Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph. 9 pm. October 17: The Greyboy Allstars (this is a late night Friday, early Saturday show). 2 am. October 17: Dumpstaphunk. 9 pm. October 23: The Psychedelic Furs: Made Of Tour 2021 + Royston Langdon. 9 pm. k


1st - OCT 30th


On well-weathered nights, BREC hosts a special series of film screenings under the Baton Rouge stars for a cozy start to the weekend. Here are this month’s films (starts at 5:30 pm, unless otherwise noted): October 1: The Croods: A New Age (PG), North Sherwood Park. October 7 & 8: Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (PG-13), Mayfair Community Park, 7 pm. and Anna T. Jordan Community Park, 8 pm. October 9: Rocky Horror Picture Show, Greenwood Community Park. Must be eighteen or older. 8 pm–10 pm. October 15: Groom & Graze, Farr Park, 6 pm–10 pm. $10 for jambalaya and popcorn. October 16: A House with a Clock in its Walls (PG), Zachary Community Park. October 30: The Haunted Mansion (PG), Howell Community Park. k

to the first responders, linemen, and, volunteers that helped before, during, and, after Hurricane Ida!

Livingston is strong and can't wait to see you again soon!

We are looking forward to hosting many Fall and Holiday ho activities and festivities with true heartfelt gratitude, thanksgiving, and celebration!

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Every weekend in October, Lakeview Park and Beach is the spot to show off your pumpkin carving and RV decorating skills, and to trick or treat around the grounds. Weekends have particular themes, as follows: October 1–2: Ghost and Ghoul Scavenger Hunt October 8–9: Monster Mash Pumpkin Bash October 15–16: Masquerade Bike Parade October 22–23: Children’s Costume Contest October 29–30: Adult Costume Contest & Barn Dance with One Trick Pony k






If the very number thirteen seems suspect to you, then you might want to avoid this Halloween event. If, however,




Beginning October 1 - October 3 st



Arnaudville, Louisiana

you get your kicks by being spooked, shocked, and possibly made to feel sick, then you’re in luck again this year. 2021 marks the return of Carnevil, the Haunted Midway, presented by the scare-centric folks at the 13th Gate. Scares and dares abound with freaky good food, haunted games, and free live entertainment nightly—including performances by Inferneaux Fire Troupe, a Drown the Clown Dunk Tank, and Jackax’s Axe Throwing contest. Only have a few extra minutes in between frights? Test your wits under pressure in a specialty Five Minute Escape Room or Ultimate Five Minute VR. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for ghouls that might have escaped from the 13th Gate across the street—they’re always on the lookout for unsuspecting victims... Doors open at 6:30 pm, music starts at 8 pm. Free live concerts will include:

Artist Larry Bourque is in Arnaudville at NUNU Collective with a unique show: art pieces made from cypress wood. Taking the time to carve stories into Louisiana’s state tree’s wood, Bourque’s display has sculptures, paintings, and carvings that capture the eye and expand what it means to work with wood. There will be an artist reception on October 9. The gallery is open 11 am–4 pm Thursday–Sunday. Free. k








The Acadiana Center for the Arts continues to bring live music to Cajun Country this month with the following concerts:

October 15: Joshua Magee and the Souls October 16: Circa Amore October 22 & 23: The Anteeks October 29: Chase Tyler Band October 30: Werewolf

October 6: The Allman Betts Band. $55-$75. 7:30 pm–9:30 pm. October 14: Del McCoury Band. $45$65. 7:30 pm–9:30 pm. October 19: The Lone Bellow. $55$75. 7:30 pm–9:30 pm. k k

OCT 2nd


Drop into the galleries at the LSU Museum of Art to observe a demonstration by local artists Joe Nivens in The Boneyard ceramics studio space. Virtual live streaming of the program will also be available. 2 pm–4 pm. Entry into the museum is $5 for visitors thirteen and older; free for members, students, and veterans. k




Among the giant oaks on the winding banks of the Teche, attendees at this twiceannual arts & crafts fair can pick up oneof-a-kind items from over one hundred vendors from around the state. From crocheted items to bath products and tea-dyed chenille bunnies, this market has it all. And of course—for what fair would be complete without it—there will be plenty of food, drink, and dessert. 9 am–4 pm. Admission is $5 per person ($3 for children ages six to eleven; under six get in free). k

Whether you are 6 or 60, we focus on your health. Staying healthy should be a top priority for all families, and Dr. North-Scott helps her families stay focused. From preventative care and screenings to immunizations and well checks, she ensures patients get the care and support they need. She treats a wide range of illnesses from the common cold, COVID, and flus to sore throats, ear infections, and stomach aches. She also helps patients with chronic illnesses and diseases such as migraines, diabetes, high blood pressure, anemia and more. Trained in osteopathic manipulation therapy, Dr. North-Scott welcomes new patients and offers alternatives to many kinds of traditional care.

Dr. North-Scott

To schedule an appointment, please call 225-654-3607.

joins Drs. Michelle Cosse’, Reagan Elkins, Tommy Gould, Amanda Lea, Kimberly Meiners at Lane Family Practice. 14

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“I love helping every member of a family. Their health means everything to me.”

2335 Church Street, Zachary, LA •




Downtown Denham Springs is the scene for its annual Fall Festival, filling the entire antique district with activities for all ages. The family-friendly day includes vendors, artist demonstrations, military re-enactments, food, and plenty of seasonal shopping in the town’s Antique Village. Over one hundred fifty local and regional craftsmen will be displaying their wares, from antique treasures to your new favorite handmade bag. Don’t miss the Arts Council of Livingston Parish’s Arts Avenue along Mattie Avenue. For those who need a break from shopping, there will be live music as well as free kids’ activities. 9 am–4:30 pm. Free. k


2nd - OCT 3rd


In this case, city wide really means city wide; while the main campus of the event will be in downtown Breaux Bridge, every road and street heading into town will have residents selling some of their oldbut-good treasures. Past years have seen

over ten thousand participants; so while there’s plenty of competition, there are also plenty of great buys. To help you plan your attack more efficiently, reach out to to receive an official map and guide to the sale, marking not only sale locations but also which day these locations plan to be active and what each will offer for sale. 8 am–4 pm. Find the event on Facebook. k


2nd - OCT 10th


Shreveport’s Red River Revel will be featuring some heavy-hitting headliners this year during the newest iteration of the largest outdoor festival in North Louisiana. Look forward to live music from the likes of Marc Broussard, Kings Kaleidoscope, Samantha Fish, Rob Base & Coolio, and Laine Hardy. There will be plenty of activities for adults and kids alike, including artists representing virtually every medium (including Computer Generated Art and Fiber). Crockett Street. Admission is $5 on weekends and weekdays after 5:30 pm. Free Monday through Friday until 5:30 pm. $10 Reveler Pass gets you in all nine days. Monday–Wednesday 11 am–9 pm; Thursday–Saturday 11 am–10 pm; Sunday 11 am–7 pm. k


2nd - OCT 30th


The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden invites parents to lose track of their little ones for just a bit while they let the kids try to find their way through the traditional fall corn maze (don’t worry, the scarecrows have an eye out for ‘em). On Corn Maze Saturdays, besides navigating the maze of maize, you can romp around a haystack mountain, paint a pumpkin, visit the petting zoo, fly away via giant slingshot, or join the hayride around the property. Sessions from 10 am–noon, 12:30–2:30 pm, and 3 pm–5 pm. Save a few tricks and treats for the Night Maze & Bonfire on October 30, with an evening bonfire, games, and a live concert from local musicians. Remember to wear your costume! 4560 Essen Lane. $15; free for children three and under. k


2nd - OCT 31st


William B. Crowell is a Louisiana artist renowned for his neon and acrylics, with his paintings having won awards from

Louisiana to Illinois. For the month of October his paintings will be featured at Gallery 600 Julia, showcasing the uniqueness and soul of Louisiana. There is an artist reception October 2, 5 pm–7 pm. Free. 9:30 am–3:30 pm. k




The West Baton Rouge Museum returns with its annual SugarFest, a sweet celebration of the sugar cane harvest. This is a full day of family-oriented activities, live music, and hordes of kids in the throes of a massive sugar rush. This oldfashioned good time sports attractions like a mule-driven cane grinder in action, praline making, blacksmithing, woodworking, and other historic craft demonstrations; Louisiana musicians perform Dixieland jazz, spirituals, folk, Cajun/zydeco, and blues; there are handson activities for the kiddos, sugar-related exhibits inside the museum, wagon rides, and fresh sugar cane to gnaw on. The sweets contest takes the flavor up a notch with homemade sugary cakes, candies, cookies, and cupcakes. Oh, and— naturally— a rum tasting. 11 am–4 pm. Free. k

fall family mini sessions Oct. 17th | $250 30 min. sessions ( no excuses, dad!)

Preserve the feels, capture the love. 225-366-4567 •

Location: Fullness Farm Baton Rouge, LA

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Beginning October 3rd - October 8th


3rd - OCT 10th


Each October auto aficionados from far and wide cruise to the Mississippi Gulf coast for this week-long showcase of glittering, snorting, vintage, and customized automobiles. The towns of Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport, Long Beach, Bay St. Louis, Ocean Springs, and Pascagoula are among the designated stops on scenic Highway 90, and thousands of antique, classic, and hot rod cars will roll out for admiration while plenty of events keep everyone entertained. Drag races, car parades, car auctions, sock hops, and live music are just a few of the items on the agenda. k


3rd - OCT 31st


The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge offers a place to jam out to live music in the cooler fall weather while enjoying a family-friendly environment. 2 pm–5 pm

at the Shaw Center for the Arts Plaza. Free. This month’s lineup includes: October 3: Long Neck Society October 10: Nouveaux Cajun Xpress October 17: Chubby Carrier October 24: Karma & The Killjoys October 31: Sugar Shaker k


6th - NOV 29th


See the Associated Women in the Arts’ annual member show on exhibit at the Louisiana Archives Gallery. An opening reception will take place on October 21 from 6 pm–8 pm. Masks required for entry. k

Allman Brothers Band members Gregg Allman and Duane Betts—has



now—after COVID-19 cancelled their



2020 visit to Louisiana—they’re coming

Luling, Louisiana

to the Manship Theatre, bringing their

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

growing band and a collection of new

The musical marriage of Devon Allman and Dickey Betts—the sons of founding

songs with them. 7:30 pm. $63–$103.

Do you make a mean gumbo or jambalaya? Perhaps you just like to eat delicious Cajun fare? Either way, there’s something for everyone at United Way’s Battle for the



Visit our New Location at 520 Franklin Street


The “Wizard of Roux” is back at New Iberia’s World Championship Gumbo Cookoff, inviting chefs large and small to compete for the title of World’s Best Gumbo––there’s a Youth Gumbo Cookoff, too. See listing on page 19. Image courtesy of the Iberia Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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enchanted audiences since 2017. And k

Paddle—an annual cooking competition fundraiser for a good cause. Teams will cook head-to-head for the prize—a special ceremonial cooking paddle—and feed everyone in attendance in the process. 3 pm–7:30 pm at the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center. k

funds raised will go towards arts and science programs at the museum. k





7th - OCT 19th


Join the East Baton Rouge Parish Master Gardeners for their 2021 Library series, featuring a special set of presentations on various gardening skills at local libraries from 5:30 pm–7:30 pm. Free: October 7: At the Jones Creek Branch Library, Louisiana Master Gardener Donna Montgomery: “Underground Beauties: Bulbs, Corms, Rhizomes, and Tubers” and Kathy Morris: “Trees for South Louisiana.” October 19: At the Main Branch Library, Louisiana Master Gardener Richard Babin: “Planning and Building a Garden: For Beginner Gardeners” and LMG Cheri Fasi: “Successful Propagation for the Home Gardener.” k


7th - OCT 29th


The Red Dragon continues to bring local favorites and touring musicians to the beloved Baton Rouge listening room. Buy tickets at, just put the name of the artist in the description. Here are the shows this month: October 7: Sara Douga, $25. October 15: Paul Thorn at the Manship. $39.95–$59.95. October 17: Ruthie Collins, $25. October 21: Joshua Ray Walker, $30. October 26: Desert Noises/ Mo Lowda & the Humble, $25. October 29: Rod Picott, $25. Updated details at the Red Dragon Listening Room Facebook Page. k




Support the arts and sciences in Louisiana by attending LASM’s 36th annual gala, to be held entirely virtually this year. Participants can take part in a grand raffle for a stunning Lee Michaels necklace or for a European Viking River Cruise, as well as in a silent auction, which will be open from October 1–8. Gala streams at 7 pm on October 8. All

Music is a central part to growing up and living in Louisiana, especially in New Orleans, and the Preservation Hall Foundation is dedicated to keeping the spirit alive. Originally formed to honor the African American families that have paved the way for jazz and left their mark on the music, the Preservation Hall Foundation is hosting their sixtieth Anniversary event at the Orpheum theatre, with a lineup of some of the most renowned people in the New Orleans music industry. $60–$160. 8 pm. k


8th - OCT 10th


Live out your dreams of being a detective, minus all the danger and the gore. Sit back and enjoy four-courses of carefully prepared cuisine at Glenfield Plantation while proudly wearing your sleuthing cap. With zany suspects and plenty of dark comedy, this “Who dunnit?” will keep you guessing all night long. Prizes will be given for “Best Detective”. Doors open at 6:45 pm, show starts at 7 pm each night. $79. k


8th - OCT 10th


The fun begins here with simply saying the event’s name out loud: Zwolle. Tamale. See? You’re enjoying yourself already, and there’s more where that came from. For three days, the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta celebrates the Spanish and Native American heritage of the town’s residents with arts & crafts, dancing, children’s activities, parades, and—oh, yes—tamales. Cultures collide in an effort to cook up the most delicious tamale—whether you’re competing or simply eating, everyone wins. k


8th - OCT 22nd


On October 8, 15, and 22,, the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center trades scares and screams for laughter and learning, and presents treats along the trails and programs about snakes, insects, rats, and other maligned critters. Track down costumed

We stock Heitz Cellar wines!

Opening early October 2021! 100 Main Street • Natchez, MS // O C T 2 1



truck roundup, a children’s village, and more. 9 am–6 pm. $25; $65 for VIP Experience; children ten and younger free. k

Beginning October 8 - October 10 th

characters to receive “treasures,” then trek through the Swamp Graveyard to the Education Building for carnival games and spooky storytime; but don’t worry, there are no scare tactics used. Kids can wear costumes and should bring flashlights. 6 pm. $6. k






New Orleans, Louisiana

Le Petit Theatre’s 105th Season will include Dear Mr. Williams, a coming-of-age, one-man play written and performed by Bryan Batt. Based in the wonderful city of New Orleans, Batt brings the audience on a journey of humor and heartbreak as he celebrates the works of Tennessee Williams. Shows on Thursdays–Sundays (Sundays at 3 pm) and on October 18. 7:30 pm. $35-$60. k








Each month, the Manship Theatre offers a slate of films. Masks are required in


all Manship Theatre spaces, and can be removed to eat or drink once seated. Here’s what’s in store this month: October 8: The Charmed Life of Fig Dauphine (2021). 7:30 pm. $9.50. October 14: The Lost Leonardo (2021). 7:30 pm. $9.50. October 22: The Velvet Underground (2021). 7:30 pm. $9.50. October 28: Without Getting Killed or Caught (2021). 7:30 pm. $14. October 29: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). 10:30 pm. $17. k



FALL FESTIVALS BLUESBERRY FESTIVAL Who said feeling blue had to be a bad thing? Get deep into your bluest blues for this celebration of blues music and the arts at Bogue Falaya Park. This full-day immersive arts experience will feature both national and regional musical talent all day long on the Westaff Music Stage, an arts tent, an Abita Beer Garden with a variety of locally-crafted brews, a food

Natchez 601-442-5852


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Mid-City Artisans, the bustling retail gallery and art education center featuring works by over one hundred and twenty local artists, is hosting a day-long celebration of local art and poetry. Opportunities will abound to watch art being created live, meet and chat with the artists and artisans, enjoy tasty food from Bistro Byron’s, and take in some incredible poetry. The event begins at 10 am, with poetry performances beginning at 2 pm. k


Covington, Louisiana

B 




The members of the Art Guild of Louisiana are doing a fall cleaning—giving locals the opportunity to purchase original artworks at reduced prices. Held under the oak trees at the Independence Park Theatre. 10 am– 2 pm. Free. k




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 four-course meal with paired wines, along with 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 new generation. 4:30 pm–9 pm. $175. k




If you have an epic collection, are working on one, or aspire to have one: this convention

A T D

is for you. Over one hundred tables and booths packed with action figures, comics, toys, video games, local art, and so much more will fill the Castine Center. Also catch a costume/cosplay contest, photo opportunities, and charity events. 10:30 am–5 pm. $5. k


9th - OCT 10th


Inspired by the rich artistic history of the National Historic Landmark that is Melrose Plantation, the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches presents the inaugural Melrose Folk Art Festival. Hosted on the grounds of the plantation house, which was built in 1796 by freedman Louis Metoyer and was later the home of esteemed artist Clementine Hunter, the festival invites folk artists from Louisiana and across the South to display and sell their handcrafted arts. The featured artist for this year’s festival is Kathy Tate Davis, a Natchitoches native who specializes in handmade sculptures built from dried okra pods and other products of nature. 10 am–5 pm Saturday, ‘til 4 pm Sunday.] k


9th - JAN 8th


Brandon Ballengée is a biologist as well as an artist, and recipient of the 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship Award. In The Age of Loneliness he utilizes large-scale sculpture installations to remark and shed light upon the relationships insects, frogs, turtles, and other species have to humans. In the cheeky “Love Motel For Insects,” a large sculpture is lit with UV rays, nestled amidst a specially planted pollinator garden to attract butterflies. Another piece called “Collapse” depicts the artist’s

response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill––a pyramid is filled with specimen jars, with empty jars representing species that are now extinct. These works and others will be on display at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 am–5 pm. Free. k




Even though the Great Acadian Awakening (GRA) that was originally

supposed to take place is now postponed until 2022, there will be a “mini awakening” in Lafayette. This annual event that brings Acadians together for a nine-day celebration will not miss a year, with a one-day event. Mass will be held at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist at 9 am. Attendees will then gather at the Cajundome for a tintamarre, which will lead into a lunch on the second floor of the conference center where there will be guest speakers, live music, and fiddlers from the Leblanc Elementary French Immersion program. The adult lunch plate will be $20 and the kids lunch plate will be $10. Starts 9 am. k

9th - OCT 10th


The Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce will host the festivities, which will feature music, family fun, and plenty of food; marking the return of the “Wizard of Roux”. Saturday will be the 5K Roux Run, followed by the Creole Food Fest (where everything except gumbo will be served), and the Meanest Beans Cookoff. Sunday is the big day of the “Battle of the Rouxs”, where over seventy-five teams will compete for the honor of World’s Best Gumbo. For young chefs, there’s a Youth Gumbo Cookoff, too. 8 am– 10 pm Saturday; 10 am–3 pm Sunday. Free. k









Slidell’s Bayou Jam concert series is bringing the bands and the crowds back to Heritage Park. So tuck your folding chairs into the trunk and join the crowd. Kids are encouraged to wear costumes. Free. 4 pm. Here are this month’s shows: October 9: Cuisine. 5 pm. October 30: Halloween Bash with Vince Vance & The Valiants. k

Enjoy an oasis in the heart of the city. Stroll through the beautiful gardens and walk the many trails of the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens and Windrush Gardens. Step back in time to 19th century rural Louisiana at the open-air LSU Rural Life Museum.

Upcoming Events Harvest Days

Saturday, October 2 . 8 a.m.-5 p.m LSU Rural Life Museum See website for admission details.

Corn Maze at Burden

Every Saturday in October LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens

Tickets available for two-hour scheduled experiences. Advanced tickets required. Available at

Zapp's International Beerfest

Saturday, October 23 . 3:30-6 p.m. LSU Rural Life Museum Tickets available at

Night Maze & Bonfire

Saturday, October 30 . 6-9 p.m. LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens

Advanced tickets required. Available at

Haints, Haunts and Halloween Sunday, October 31 . 3-6 p.m. LSU Rural Life Museum See website for admission details.

Wine & Roses Rambler

Sunday, November 7 . Noon-3 p.m. LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens

Tickets required. Available at

Botanic Gardens For details about these and other events, visit our website or call 225-763-3990. Admission may be charged for some events. Burden Museum & Gardens . 4560 Essen Lane . 225-763-3990 . . Baton Rouge . Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily // O C T 2 1



Beginning October 11th - October 16th



LIVE MUSIC SHORTY FEST 2021 New Orleans, Louisiana

The Trombone Shorty Foundation and the Tip-It foundation are coming together for a one-night event at Tiptina’s, with this being the first time Trombone Shorty is playing at the venue in six years. Proceeds from this event will go towards continuing the music education programs that inspire young musicians to keep music traditions alive. $100 for general admission; $300 for VIP. 7 pm. k


12th - OCT 14th


Artwork by Jonathan Mayers, Photograph by David Humphreys

NOW VIRTUAL! Oct. 30 – Nov. 13 New content uploaded every weekend. See the full schedule online! More than 30 programs Over 70 authors and presenters


In commemoration of the centennial of the burial of The Unknown Soldier, the Daughters of The American Revolution Northshore Chapters Wharton, Pierre de Mandeville, and St. Tammany present A Call To Honor, a half-sized traveling replica of the Tomb at the Justice Center in Covington. This is a first-ever showing in Louisiana. The Exchange Club of Rome, Georgia will host presentations on the second half of each hour. 10 am–7 pm daily. Free. (985) 264-9980. k


13th - OCT 16th


The shopping extravaganza known as Hollydays is back, rendering Raising Cane’s River Center a holiday season marketplace sprinkled with shopping galore, family entertainment, and general merriment. This year will also be bringing back the virtual market, allowing patrons to shop at their leisure without leaving the comfort of home. It’s all courtesy of Baton Rouge’s Junior League, whose event has grown to become the largest fundraiser in Louisiana. Market hours are 11:30 am–8 pm Thursday; 9 am–8 pm Friday; 9 am– 4 pm Saturday. $12/day; $25 for three-day pass. Free for children four and younger. k


13th - OCT 17th


For five days, artists will scatter throughout the heart of Alexandria, capturing en plein air its stunning natural environs. For the first 20

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ever Farm to Forest Plein Air Festival, hosted by the Alexandria Museum of Art, painters from all over the country are invited to participate in a series of arts-focused events interspersed with the most valuable gift of all: time and space to paint. Additional events include gallery tours at the AMoA, opportunities to participate in animal studies at the Alexandria Zoo, a paint challenge at Inglewood Farms, a workshop with juror Phil Sandusky, ArtWalk, the Illuminate the Arts Fall Procession, and more. All juried artists’ work from the week will be displayed in the closing event on Sunday at 4 pm, when the winners will also be announced. All art sales will be split with a seventy percent commission going towards the artist and thirty percent going to the Alexandria Museum of Art. $55 for Artist Registration; non-juried artists and the public are also invited to participate in certain events including the Quick Paint Challenge at Inglewood Farms (included for juried artists; $20 for non-juried artists; $10 for spectators), the Phil Sandusky workshop ($50 for juried artists; $75 for non-juried artists), and the Final Sale and Awards Ceremony (included for juried artists; $40 for non-juried artists, spectators, and collectors; $75 for VIP Tickets). k


14th - OCT 16th


A gala that features the finest of New Orleans cuisine, silent and live auctions featuring art from noted Southern artists, and the presentation honoring internationally-recognized photographer and author Sally Mann. Proceeds from the gala go towards the Ogden Museum’s mission to showcase the diversity and importance of Southern art through exhibitions and education initiatives. 6 pm–midnight at 925 Camp Street. All guests must provide proof of at least one dose of an approved COVID vaccine or a negative PCR test taken within seventy-two hours to participate. Tickets start at $600. k


14th - OCT 17th


Where would jambalaya, etouffée, and gumbo be without this all-powerful ingredient? Head to Crowley to pay homage to the tiny grain that gets around! Festivalgoers are treated to rice cooking and eating contests, the Grand Parade, arts & crafts, fiddling competitions, a frog derby, a rice


Thank You! This month, the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre is partnering with the Manship Theatre to host the Philadelphia Dance Company for a special production of Philadanco! See listing on page 22. Image courtesy of Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre.

poker run, a classic car show, and more over the course of this huge happening. The live music lineup includes local and national favorites like Leroy Thomas, Cupid, Bag of Donuts, Clay Cormier, Wayne Toups, Frank Foster, and many more. Music, parking, and entry to the festival are free, but the carnival will cost you. k








The city of Natchez makes a picturesque historic backdrop for balloonatics from all around the country during the annual hot-air balloon competition, which pits competitive balloonists against one another, and against the high bluffs and capricious breezes swirling above the Mississippi River. The Balloon Glow and fireworks show are always well-received, as is a lineup of bands that this year includes YZ Ealey, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, the Matt Willis Trio, Jamell Richardson, J & the Causeways, and more. At day’s end, the sight of up to sixty hot air balloons suspended above the Mississippi River, when viewed from the two-hundred-foot river bluffs, is one not soon forgotten. Children’s activities, carnival rides, and a variety of regional foods are always around, so it’s up, up, and away you go to Natchez this weekend. $30 weekend pass for adults ($40 at the gate), or $15 on Friday, $25 Saturday. Children ages twelve and younger are free. After morning balloon flights (7:30 am) each day, the festival kicks off at 4 pm Friday, 11 am start on Saturday— all on the grounds of Rosalie Mansion. k


15th - OCT 17th


If you like all things vintage, you will probably enjoy Vintage Market Days, taking place at the Florida Parishes Arena in Amite. The three-day picking experience

features an upscale vintage-inspired indoor/ outdoor market with original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, home décor, outdoor furnishings, consumable yummies, seasonal plantings, and a little more. 10 am–5 pm Friday ($12.50) and Saturday ($7.50), 10 am–4 pm Sunday ($5). k


15th - OCT 24th


Slidell, Louisiana

Was it Colonel Mustard in the Billiard Room? Mrs. Peacock with the revolver? Answer the eternal question of “Who dunnit?” with Slidell Little Theatre at their production of the the Hasbro game turned 1985 slapstick murder mystery, now live on stage. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm. $28 for adults, $22 for students and seniors. k




So how do you like your boudin? Blanc, noir, crawfish, gator, balled up, or on bread? The Boudin Cook-Off promises boudin samples created by the region’s top boudin makers, a People’s Choice award, and a boudin-eating contest wherein participants will make stuffed sausages of themselves. But if that isn’t enough pork to set you over, it gets even better—once again, the Boudin Cook-off is partnering with the Acadiana Bacon Festival in a pairing more greasy and delicious than we’ve dared to imagine thus far. Alongside the boudining, local restaurants and home cooks from across Acadiana will come together to show off bacon in all its glorious iterations—and you can be sure that the smells of Parc International will have the whole town drooling. Live music, games, face painting, free ice cream sandwiches, and fun jumps too. 10 am–4 pm. Free. k

Thank you to everyone who has played a part in our recovery. While Grand Isle has been seriously impacted by Hurricane Ida and our recovery will take some time, we are going to come back stronger than ever. Please follow us on facebook, instagram and our website for updates on our recovery. If you want to give to a local non-profit that is making a difference in Grand Isle, we encourage you to give to the Friends of Grand Isle and the Grand Isle Garden Club. Both are listed on our website. Please visit to join the effort!

“As long as there is one grain of sand on Grand Isle, we are going to plant the American Flag. We are not going anywhere.” -Mayor David Camardelle

Grand Isle Strong TOWNOFGRANDISLE.COM // O C T 2 1



Beginning October 16th - October 20th OCT



October/November Calendar St. Joseph School Fair Plaucheville, Louisiana October 9,10, 2021 318.922.3401 Sacred Heart School Fall Fling Moreauville, Louisiana October 16,17, 2021 Oct Fb Sacred Heart School of Moreauville October Fete Avoyelles Marksville Main Street October 23, 2021 (8am-2pm) Art in the Rafters Arts Council Membership Drive Avoyelles Courthouse Square November 4, 2021 (5pm-9pm) 318.264.1826 or 318.240.3495 Christmas on the Island Fifth Ward Community Center November 13, 2021 318.500.2416 Avoyelles Christmas Craft Show VFW Hall in Marksville November 13, 2021 318.613.1771 Christmas Extravaganza Paragon Casino Resort November 20, 2021 318.253.8599

BREC is bringing Baton Rouge a much more fun, hands-on version of the card game: inviting all to “Geaux Fish” in their stocked ponds this October. Howell Community Park Pond, Perkins Community Park Pond, and Palomino Park Pond will be freshly stocked with channel catfish, fresh for the catching all month long. To really show off your skills, sign up for the Geaux Fish Rodeo at Zachary Community Park. 7:30 pm–noon. Registration recommended; BREC can provide rods and reels, as well as hooks, weights, and bobbers on a first come, first served basis, but participants must provide their own bait. k


16th - OCT 24th


Don’t be scary... be merry! The Baton Rouge Zoo’s annual fall event is a family tradition. Your little beast can costume up to visit the Enchanted Swamp, wander through the Hay Maze, and get schooled at the EdZooCation Station. Don’t forget to stop by all the treat stations! Regular zoo admissions and hours apply. k


16th - NOV 17th



Going strong since the early 1950s, Ville Platte’s Cotton Festival, so named for the Delta and Pine Land Cotton raised there, features all the fun of a typical small-town fest. It all kicks off on Tuesday evening with the annual Contradanse, featuring live music by Lennis Soileau & the Friendly Cajuns and young dancers performing the traditional two step. Le Roi et La Reine from the local nursing home will be crowned at the event. 6:30 pm. $5, $2 for children five years and younger. The fun continues throughout the week, with a food fest, a pet show, a fais do-do street dance with performances from Trevor Causey and Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, a “Grand Parade of Cotton,” and more. It all closes out with Le Tournoi at 3 pm Sunday. The ancient jousting sport, first played by French knights, was later brought to Louisiana by its French settlers used to battle the seven banes of cotton—boll-worm, bollweevil, flood, drought, rayon, nylon, and silk. k


19th - NOV 2nd


The Bayou Teche Museum is excited to welcome a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian called Water/Ways, which explores the ways water impacts our world, environmentally, culturally, and historically. The Bayou Teche Museum will also host, either virtually or in-person, weekly programming that will include both an adult and children’s bookclub, “Water in Artistry” featuring area artists, a screening of the movie Deepwater Horizon, and more. Free. k

Magnolia Mound Plantation will be decorated in the style of nineteenthcentury mourning, with special tours explaining the various customs associated with death and dying in early Louisiana. All ages welcome. Guided tours begin on the hour. Normal tour fees apply. k


Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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19th - OCT 24th

Baton Rouge, Louisiana




New Iberia, Louisiana


8592 Hwy 1, Mansura, LA 800.833.4195

African American dance traditions. Performances will take place at the Manship at 2 pm and 7 pm. $30–$55. k

This fall, the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre is returning full-force to the stage, starting with two performances of Philadanco! In partnership with the Manship Theatre, the Ballet is hosting the Philadelphia Dance Company for a special production recognized world-wide for its innovation and creativity—particularly in preserving


20th - OCT 24th


This festive, autumnal rural fair has been going on since 1911—come see what Washington Parish has learned about having fall fun in these one hundred and ten years. Expect all the classic small-town fair offerings—exhibits of cut flowers, homemaking, livestock and agricultural products; Old McDonald’s Farm, a magical Midway, a professional rodeo, and an Authentic Historical Pioneer Village. k


Karl LeBlanc, md, mba, facs, fasmbs Karl LeBlanc, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS, general and bariatric surgeon at Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Bariatric and Metabolic Institute and The Surgeons Group of Baton Rouge, has been preparing for a career as a physician for most of his life. “As a child, I enjoyed caring for the animals on the farm that I grew up on,” he says. “I loved fixing things, so this was a natural fit.”

Following a Calling

After earning his medical degree from Louisiana State University Medical School in Shreveport, where he also completed his internship and residency in general surgery, Dr. LeBlanc went on to specialize in hernia and abdominal wall reconstruction, as well as bariatric surgery, both areas he knew would allow him to make a significant difference in patients’ lives. “Hernias can be a very difficult problem for many patients, especially those that have large and longstanding hernias. The repair of these complex conditions allows me to help patients with issues that could not be solved otherwise,” he says. “And with bariatric surgery, along with the weight loss, patients can see chronic diseases disappear.” In addition to obtaining a Master of Surgery, which is the most advanced qualification in surgery, Dr. LeBlanc made history when he invented and performed the world’s first laparoscopic incisional hernia repair in 1991. He also developed a special interest in robotic surgery, due to the expanded capabilities of such procedures. “The robot allows us to use ‘wrists’ that traditional laparoscopic surgery does not. Accurate visualization of the tissues and this added flexibility allows the surgeon to perform delicate operations as well as, and in many cases even better than, the older laparoscopic method,” he says.

Sharing a Gift

Dr. LeBlanc is proud to be a part of the Surgeons Group of Baton Rouge, which regularly gets referrals from outside the area, even from other states. “Our surgeons provide a complete surgical practice for nearly all simple and complex surgical problems,” he says. “We are a multifaceted group that works well together.” Dr. LeBlanc also enjoys sharing his knowledge with other surgeons. He has written eight textbooks on hernia and hernia repair as well as numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals. In addition, he speaks frequently at major surgical conventions and meetings about hernia repair around the world.

Taking Time

With such a packed schedule, Dr. LeBlanc still finds time to relax and be with his family. During his time off, he takes advantage of the many outdoor activities and sports the Baton Rouge area has to offer. He also enjoys woodworking and building furniture, watching Star Wars and listening to Fleetwood Mac. A selfproclaimed history buff, his bookshelf contains titles like A History of the Crusades. But most of all, Dr. LeBlanc is grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference through the work he does with the Surgeons Group of Baton Rouge. “Our ability to improve patients’ lives is truly rewarding.” Learn more about our surgeons and the Our Lady of the Lake Robotic Surgery Institute at

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Beginning October 20th - October 23rd


20th - OCT 27th


The Young Leadership Council is hosting a mini-concert series in the heart of New Orleans Central Business District every Wednesday for four weeks. In an effort to bring the community together and to help local artists and musicians, YLC knew there was no better way than to bring back their beloved WATS events. Lineup and times to be announced. Free. k








In a special installation exhibited at the LSU Museum of Art, sculpture artist Candice Lin presents her project La Charada China, a study of the indentured Chinese labor trade. Made of pressed tobacco leaves, a stereotypical “coolie” figure holds various plants and materials associated with the labor trade in a style derived from a divination-type gambling game practiced by Chinese laborers in the Caribbean. Alongside La Charada China are also recent works of Lin’s that are based on archival images from LSU football’s “Chinese bandits” and cheerleaders who dressed as coolie laborers. On October 13, Lin will present her Visiting Artist Lecture to the LSU School of Art. On October 20, the LSU Museum of Art will host a special opening reception for the exhibition from 6 pm–8 pm. k



NUPTIALS WEDDING MELT Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Thankfully, the folks from Eye Wander Photo, Weddings by Allie, Red Cake Events, and Gallery 14 are making wedding planning easier by hosting a boutique wedding expo where you can explore a plethora of local vendors, both traditional and nontraditional. There will also be a bridal gown runway show, door prizes, and a grand finale prize. 6:30 pm–9 pm. $10 at k


21st - OCT 23rd


The organization Y’all Means All 24

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Natchez—a group of LGBTQ+ individuals and supporters joined by a mission to foster diversity of perspectives, lifestyles, and cultures in the community—brings you a weekend of good times and celebration, from drag performances, to tours, to book signings, To participate, guests must be vaccinated or have received a negative COVID-19 test within forty-eight hours of the event. Mask wearing is encouraged. k




This Halloween-inspired evening at the West Baton Rouge Museum is quite merry, and not so scary, so the whole family can enjoy. Seasonal sociallydistant activities, a costume contest, take home crafts and treats, and a screening of a family-friendly Halloween film on the lawn beginning at 7:30 pm. Bring blankets and lawn chairs. 6:30–8:30 pm. Free. k




What’s cuter than kids and dogs sporting tiny Halloween costumes? BREC has combined both with local art, family fun, and of course candy for a synthesis of their annual Trick or Treat and Art Unleashed Events this year, held at Forest Community Park. There will be live music, live art, spooky arts and crafts, and costume contests for kids, adults, and dogs, too. 5 pm–9 pm. Free. artunleashed. k




Johann Sebastian gets his due with a full-on Bachtoberfest at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Main Branch, presented by the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. Enjoy concertos, fugues, preludes, and minuets concocted by the prolific composer and his contemporaries, Corelli, Telemann, and Vivaldi. Of course it wouldn’t be a fest without food and drink—beer and bratwurst will suit the virtuosic German nicely. 7:30 pm–9:30 pm. $30. k

Sunday. Kicks off on Friday at 5 pm with a Blessing of the Grounds, with music until 10 pm. Saturday 11 am–11 pm; Sunday noon–9 pm. Read more about the enduring legend of Evangeline in Lauren Heffker’s story on page 32. k


22nd - OCT 24th


The green-thumbed crowd should head to Hilltop Arboretum this month for all of their garden needs: Plantfest! is back, offering all manner of flowers, herbs, shrubs, and other greenery for your perusal. See listing on page 26. Image courtesy of LSU Hilltop Arboretum.


22nd - OCT 24th

the Teche Country in search of her lover,

This festival in downtown Houma revels in the thrill of terror, while remaining familyfriendly. A creepier take on the traditional Louisiana festival, which, of course, must involve the crucial components of food and music; but organizers have upped the ante with a costume contest (voted one of the ten best in the country by USA Today), a spirited parade, a scary scavenger hunt, and carnival rides. Main Street and Church Street. Free. k


Louis Arceneaux (Gabriel). In the present-

Plaquemine, Louisiana

greet the crowd at the Waterfront Park by

To honor the Acadian roots shared by so

fire-lit pirogues. All this, plus the typical


many area residents, Iberville Parish holds a

festival trimmings: rides, games, music,

New Orleans, Louisiana

Water Ceremony every year, a re-enactment

Cajun food, 4-H booths, arts & crafts, a

of Longfellow’s poem in which Acadian

cooking contest, fireworks, a Texas Hold

exile Emmeline LaBiche (Evangeline) travels

‘Em Tournament, and the International

down Bayou Plaquemine on her journey to

Acadian Festival Parade at 10:30 am on

Art at the edge of the Anthropocene— this is Dawn DeDeaux’s realm of work. In the first comprehensive museum exhibition of her art, called

day ceremony, the Native princesses and Evangeline (queen of the festival) arrive to


22nd - JAN 23rd

The Space Between Worlds at the New Orleans Museum of Art, her body of work—spanning video, performance, photography, and installation—wrestles between the worlds of the past and the future. Her art is both anticipatory and full of regret, dwelling on the coming consequences of climate change, population growth, and industrial development. In this exhibition, her fifty-year career is put on display through recreations of installations from the 1970s to present. The exhibition aims to engage diverse local communities, and asks urgent questions of all of us. k




Don your bio-hazard suit and gas mask, or succumb to zombification this Saturday for the New Orleans Zombie Run. Starting at 9 am, two miles along the Warehouse District will be infested with rotting corpses, the deadliest of which are the Big Easy Rollergirl Zombie Killers. Stick around for the Krewe of Boo Parade afterwards. Pre-registration is $25; $90 for VIP (race shirt guaranteed and open bar); Day of (starting at 7:30 am) is $35; $100 VIP. k

Louisiana Cypress Furniture

Handcrafted Old World Reclaimed Cypress Table W/ Natural Finish.

10269 Airline Highway | Baton Rouge | (225) 293-5118 (Across from Costco)

1408 W. Pinhook | Lafayette | (337) 262-0059 (Across from Hilton/Double Tree) // O C T 2 1




Beginning October 23 - October 28 OCT





This fest sends a seasonal gust of ghoulishness and good times through Bogue Falaya Park. An annual fundraiser for the St. Tammany Hospital Parenting Center, it features a Trick-or-Treat Village, arts & crafts, carnival rides, and food and beverages for purchase. Costumes highly recommended. 10 am–2 pm. k




plentiful) fish skyward, during the fiercely contested annual Mullet Toss contest. Although, if you’re more attracted by the likes of classic and exotic car shows, hands-on arts and crafts exhibits, a cast net contest, live music, heritage displays, a kids’ village and festival foods, or a cosplay contest—you won’t have to fling a fish to get some. Bring your folding chairs and dancing shoes, find a spot in the shade, and look out for falling fish. 9 am–7 pm in downtown Gautier on Dolphin Drive. Free. k






Gautier, Mississippi

Each October, the annual green-thumbed crowd pleaser has been bringing people and plants together at Hilltop Arboretum. PlantFest! returns with another veritable botanical bonanza. It is required that shoppers wear a face mask when in the check-out line or within six feet of others, and recommended that shoppers come equipped with their own wagon and helper. 9 am–4 pm. k

Let’s face it: if you’re a member of the animal kingdom, the moment they name a festival after you is the moment to get out of town. Members of the mugilidae family of ray-finned fish will want to be following the school away from Gautier this weekend. The annual Mullet Festival challenges the longest throwing arms of the Gulf Coast to launch the (fortunately

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



Be whisked away on wings of sound when the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra crosses the causeway and serenades the sunset for Mandeville’s annual Sunset Symphony on the Lake performance at the Mandeville lakefront. Grab your lawn chairs and blankets and make an evening of it. 4 pm. Free. k




hundred domestic and international beers and ales to the grounds of the Rural Life Museum, plus more than a few home brews, which always end up being a festival highlight. Non-alcoholic beverages will be available for those (heroic) designated drivers. Bottoms up because all proceeds benefit the Rural Life Museum. Don’t forget your I.D.— participants must be twenty-one, for obvious reasons. 3:30 pm–6 pm. $40; $20 for designated drivers. k




New Orleans, Louisiana

Natchitoches, Louisiana

The official Halloween parade of New Orleans is back to creep the night away this year. Krewe of Boo rolls at 6:30 pm, creaking its way through the Boo Carré along North Peters, Canal, and Tchoupitoulas, before ending at Mardi Gras World. k

Celebrate Harvest Season on Cane River with Cane River Fall Festival. Head to Oakland Plantation (4386 LA-494, Natzhez, LA, 71456) for kids’ activities, live animals, food trucks, and historical demonstrations. Find Cane River NHA on Facebook. k




The annual Zapp’s International Beer Festival brings tastings of more than two




The spooks and the hallows are set to be unleashed down Columbia Street for the Covington Business Association’s

Dream without boundaries

Knowing you’ve got the strength of the cross, the protection of the shield and thousands of top doctors to lift you when you need it. The Right Card. The Right Care.

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second annual Nightmare on Columbia Stroll, Costume Contest, and Concert. Revel in the spooky glory of Downtown Covington gone gory, featuring craft cocktails and beers and of course, a costume contest. The evening will conclude with a free public concert at the Trailhead, presented by the CBD Shop, featuring Tyler Kinchen & the Right Pieces. 4 pm–9:30 pm. Stroll cups are $30, and serve as the ticket to the event, including a single entry to the costume contest and free access to cocktail samples. Patrons must be twenty one years or older. k






Campfires and s’mores are just a short drive away if you opt in to BREC’s Great Family Camp Out at Forest Community Park. For $35 per family of five ($5 for additional family members; optional $5 tent rental), the key is to exhaust the kids with biking, kayaking, inf latables and more (4 pm–9 pm) before packing them away under the stars. Food is provided and no camping experience is needed. k





the readings of each individual artist. k



New Orleans, Louisiana

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, New Orleans creatives gathered to ask: “What could the role of artists be in rebuilding the city?” This question, in the Fall of 2021, resounds louder than ever in a city of creatives still recovering from the effects of COVID-19 on their industries, who have just been slammed yet again by the crippling damage of Hurricane Ida. As we rebuild once again, artists have remained at the heart of New Orleans. In 2007, the post-Katrina answer was Prospect.1, an exhibition of international contemporary art inspired by New Orleans, following the model of the Venice Biennale. Occurring every three years, the event has driven over 100,000 visitors to the city for each Prospect and generated over $10 million in total economic impact. In 2021, Prospect.5 reflects the event’s origins more than ever. Titled Yesterday we said tomorrow, the exhibition—which will be displayed in museums, cultural spaces, and public sites throughout New Orleans through January—features an intergenerational group of artists from the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. Focusing on the unspoken present, the exhibition champions change—interpreted through

OCT 28th



FAMILY FUN TRUNK OR TREAT! Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Come out for some safe trick-or-treating at Jefferson UMC. Put on your favorite costume and head over from 3 pm–5pm for a fun family-style afternoon. Food, games, a pumpkin patch and more, in the back lot behind the church building. Email k

Of Moving Colors returns to the stage with a short work inspired by one of the oldest astronomical clocks in the world, located in Prague. In a visual masterpiece of contemporary dance, this one-night production gives dancers the chance to respond to abstract symbols, to true beauty, and to fake news all found within the detailed structures of the clock. k




Warm up for duck, deer, and quail hunting season while supporting the St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce with this shooting event at the beautiful Covey Rise Lodge in Husser. The structure of the shoot is like a golf scramble—just trade clubs for shotguns. Participants are asked to bring their own gun, but other supplies (ammo, safety glasses, and ear protection) will be provided. Prizes will be awarded to the “Top Shooter” and the “Worst Shooter.” 8 am. $150 per individual or $600 per foursome, which #BeK






land TheIs


includes continental breakfast and lunch. k

OCT 28th


The halls of the Old State Capitol will take on some boozy top notes this Thursday, when it hosts Louisiana distilleries for the Spirits of Louisiana event. Guests will sample various liquors made at in-state distilleries, with food provided by Heirloom Cuisine, and live music. Dress is cocktail with a witchy flair. All proceeds benefit the Old State Capitol Foundation and the Old State Capitol Associates. Ages twenty one and older only. 6:30 pm–9:30 pm. $85. k



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Beginning October 28th - October 30th


28th - OCT 30th


Gifts are much more special when they’re made locally with love, and this marketplace provides the opportunity to knock your holiday shopping out early without ever stepping foot in a big box store. Over fifty vendors will flock to Central Louisiana for this three-day marketplace, which in addition to troves of treasures will offer special events like Ladies’ Night (October 28, 7 pm–10 pm, $35–$65) and Character Events (October 30, 9 am–5 pm, $16). This year, the market is also available online. It’s open Friday from 9 am–8 pm, and Saturday from 9 am–5 pm. $7. k


28th - OCT 30th


The goal of this festival is to provide participants a unique venue to view the elusive Yellow Rail, a rare marshbird that migrates to the Gulf Coast each winter.

The festival also brings birders and farmers together to realize the value to birds of the area’s “working wetlands.” $50. Capacity is limited this year due to COVID-19 concerns, and registration will close when the maximum threshold is reached. Walk-ins will not be accepted. Check-in begins at 7 am Thursday; Friday’s harvest trip will begin at (approximately, depending on weather conditions and the farmer) noon. $200. k


28th - OCT 31st


Join Brad, Janet, Rocky, Frank, and an eyeshadow bill the size of Luxembourg’s annual budget for Theatre Baton Rouge’s production of the Halloween classic turned weird-kid coming-of-age ritual. All patrons must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test taken within seventy-two hours prior to entry into the theatre, and everyone will be required to wear a mask at all times while inside the theatre. 8 pm, with additional midnight performances on Friday and Saturday. $35;

Downtown Covington gets a spooky transformation on October 23 for Nightmare on Columbia, featuring a costume contest, craft cocktails and beer, and live music by Tyler Kinchen & the Right Pieces. See listing on page 26. Image courtesy of the Covington Business Association.

$25 for students and children seventeen and younger. Rated R. k


28th - OCT 31st

jambalaya and gumbo cook-offs, car show and talent show, live and silent auctions, and food for days. Special events include a Kids’ Night featuring Boo with the Badge


trick-or-treating, a Nun Run, a kids’ fishing

Saint Amant, Louisiana

performances from SugarShakers, Kenny

Our Lady of Holy Rosary Catholic Church hosts the annual La Fête des Bayous in the last weekend of October. Expect all the trappings of a great fall fair: rides, games,

Cornett, That 70s Band, Parish County

tournament, and a talent show. Expect

Line, and Mike Broussard & Night Train. 2 pm–8 pm Thursday; Mass at 8 am Friday, cook off at 2 pm, rides open 5 pm–11 pm;




TER S I G E R 28

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events start at 7 am Saturday, rides open 10 am–11 pm; Mass at 7 am and 10 am Sunday, rides noon–5 pm. k








The Baton Rouge State Fair pulls out all the stops each year with rides galore in the carnival midway and live music almost every night, featuring a variety of genres. Clowns and magicians amble about while fair-goers feed on delicious fair food. Plus there’s mutton bustin’, lawn-tractor pulls, pig races, and an exotic animal petting zoo. Junior beef, dairy, and goat shows also add to the agricultural theme. It’s a Baton Rouge tradition at the Airline Highway Park and Fairgrounds. 5 pm–10 pm Mondays– Fridays; noon–10 pm Saturdays & Sundays. $5 and up. k





At Forest Community Park, a trunk & treat trail awaits, along with live music by Peyton Falgoust Band and a special slate of seasonal

family-friendly movies. Free, donations will benefit recreation programs by the BREC Foundation. 4 pm–8 pm. k




For the final Columbia Street Block Party of the season, put on your Halloween costumes and brace yourself for candy. And, of course, live music and classic cars will make appearances, as well. 6 pm. k


29th - OCT 30th


This unique festival celebrates its fourteenth year with a weekend full of music, dancing, and food at Vermilionville. On Friday night and Saturday, live performances range from Cajun and zydeco to blues, bluegrass, Americana, swing, and Irish and this year’s lineup includes stellar shows like: Goldman Thibodeaux, The Revelers, Daiquiri Queens, Pine Leaf Boys, Preston Frank, Your Mom, and more. An accordion contest and square dancing add to the music fever, and, then of course there’s the cook-off. All weekend long, competitors will get down and dirty for

the title of champion in categories: gumbo, gravy, cracklin’, jambalaya, and dessert. Guests can sample the goods on Saturday afternoon, and winners will be announced at 6 pm. 6 pm–midnight Friday ($25); noon– midnight Saturday ($35). Camping rate, for both nights, is $60. Learn more about the extent of this annual celebration by checking out Black Pot Camp the week before at blackpotcamp.comk


29th - OCT 31st


Let the kids run around in the throes of Halloween mischief at Hug Your People Park this weekend. There’s a maze to get lost in (don’t worry Mom, not really), crafts to get messy with, and an outdoor screening of Monsters, Inc. Bring chairs and blankets, leave pets and your ice chest at home. Food trucks will be onsite. Free. 6 pm–9 pm each evening. k



GOOD EATS 2021 ROUGE ET BLANC Lake Charles, Louisiana

Rouge et Blanc is back for another year for their extravagant food and wine festival at Oak Crossing in Lake Charles. As an event organized by Banners at McNeese, under

the McNeese Foundation, the proceeds will go towards their cultural and educational programs that they offer year-round. Must be twenty one years old to attend. 4 pm–8 pm Saturday. $125. k




Bonfires, s’mores, live music, glow-inthe-dark games, and a chance to wear your well-chosen Halloween costume. That’s fall fun in spades—and we haven’t even mentioned the corn maze. 6 pm– 9 pm. $15. k




Get all dolled (or monster-ed) up, load up in the car, and make your way through a drive-through assortment of Halloween decorations and costumed characters. First five hundred children will receive a treat bag and complimentary face mask. Location to be announced. 2 pm–4 pm. Free. k

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Beginning October 30th - October 31st OCT



Roux at the ready: the best gumbo chefs on the Northshore are gathering on the Tchefuncte River to compete for the honor of “Best Gumbo.” Proceeds will benefit the town of Madisonville. 11 am. Free admission, $10 to taste all gumbos, and $25 to enter a competing team. k



Natchez, Mississippi


For the seventh year, Longwood—an architectural treasure—hosts its annual all-day music festival, featuring live performances from Rowdy Johnson, Sullivan’s Hollow, Dalton Wayne and the Warmidillos, The Anteeks, and Easily Distracted. Look forward to plenty of family-friendly activities, local arts and crafts vendors, beer, drinks, and much more. Gates open at 11 am. $15. Kids younger than eleven are free. Details at the Longwood Afternoon Music Fest Facebook Page. k









afternoon (registration for the Plein Air portion is required in advance). Then there’s the music: this year the Yellow Leaf lineup includes Gina Forsyth, Clay Parker and Jodi James, The Fugitive Poets, Steve Judice, and Day Trip, plus a songbird jam session/ open mic taking place throughout the weekend. 10 am–5 pm in Parker Park, downtown St. Francisville. Free. k



Baton Rouge, Louisiana

An old-fashioned country Halloween. Storytelling, cake walks, pumpkin decorating, games, and the timeless art of trick-or-treating will take place on the Rural Life Museum’s grounds. Recommended for ages two through nine … costumed, of course. 3 pm–6 pm. $5. k


Saint Francisville, Louisiana

Here to Love Again

St. Tammany Parish Stir your soul on the Louisiana Northshore, nestled along the northern shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Fall events, soft-adventure, and a delectable culinary scene await you. Request your FREE

EXPLORE THE NORTHSHORE VISITOR GUIDE and plan your holiday visit. | (800) 634-9443 30

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

Authentic, inimitable, and running on a full tank of small town charm, the Yellow Leaf has become a favorite with artists, craftspeople, musicians, and collectors—many of whom have been involved every year since the festival’s inception. Upwards of fifty artists and craftspeople come to Parker Park to show and sell paintings, pottery, metalwork, handmade boats, fabric art, wood pieces, sculpture, glass art, jewelry, carvings, and lots more. The featured artist is ceramicist Denise Greenwood Loveless, and in her honor participants will be able to take advantage of Pottery Wheel interactive opportunities. Louisiana Poet Laureate Mona Lisa Saloy will read some of her work on Saturday afternoon, courtesy of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. This year brings a new Plein Air painting event, inviting artists of all skill levels to bring their easels to capture the beauty of fall in West Feliciana, then have their paintings displayed at the festival on Sunday

To see our full list of regional events and festivals, including those we couldn’t fit into print, point your phone camera here.

Come Spend a Day

At the Most Beautiful Food & Wine Event in Louisiana

Presented by the Louisiana Office of Tourism and Louisiana Seafood

November 13—14, 2021 • Myrtles, St. Francisville, LA Celebrated Chefs • Delicious Dishes • Cooking Demos • Creative Wine Pairings Cocktail Tastings • Lawn Games • Wine Sales • Exciting Door Prizes



P r es e n t e d W i t h G e n e r o u s S u p p o rt F r o m

Paretti Jaguar Land Rover Baton Rouge

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O C TO B E R 2 0 2 1 32 THE



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Evangeline Endures



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

“The Last Novena for Gabriel.” George Rodrigue. From the Saga of the Acadians series, 1985–1989. Oil on canvas. 36x24 inches. Gauthier Family Collection, New Orleans. Courtesy of the Rodrigue Gallery.


er dark, mournful eyes seem to follow you, framed on canvas by fair skin and long black hair, her softened face bearing an inquisitive expression. Her stark-white dress sets her aglow against the muted neutrals of the bayou country landscape behind her. George Rodrigue painted Evangeline more than a hundred times over the course of forty years—in traditional Acadian dress, as a buxom partner to his Blue Dog, and as an ethereal maiden holding clusters of red blooms. In almost every iteration, though, the motifs remain: fair skin, dark hair, a questioning gaze, and a white dress. You recognize her. Several of these original works by the prolific Acadiana artist are currently on exhibit as part of the West Baton Rouge Museum’s Evangeline: Evolution of an Icon, running through October 31. The exhibit traces the mythic figure’s image and influence over the years, from her inception in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, to her proliferation in pop culture and her impact as muse for generations of Louisiana artists. Over time, Evangeline has taken on a Laura Palmer-esque presence in Louisiana culture; she is larger than life, beloved and controversial, inaccessible, and continues to captivate us, even after all these years. Longfellow’s epic poem, which catapulted its titular heroine to a household name after it was published in 1847, tells the story of a young couple separated on their wedding day at the onset of Britain’s expulsion of the Acadian people from their home in Nova Scotia. Evangeline spends the rest of her life searching for her lover Gabriel, only narrowly missing him several times and finally reuniting by chance on his deathbed. Earning comparisons to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with its star-crossed lovers struck by tragedy at every turn, Evangeline has evinced a similar staying power, enduring as a classic work of American literature and occupying a permanent place on the mantle of Louisiana lore and culture. While the poem’s narrative is based on historical events, the characters themselves are fictional—the New England-born Longfellow had been to neither the village of Grand Pré nor the Boot, and even the name “Evangeline” was his own imagination at work; the name is of Greek origin, meaning “good news”. According to most accounts, Longfellow heard the story at a dinner party attended by the American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, who had first heard the tale from fellow acquaintance Rev. Horace Lorenzo Conolly. Despite its author’s outsider status, the broad strokes of Evangeline’s quest mirrored the realities of Le Grande Dérange-

ment, leading many readers—especially the descendants of the displaced Acadians themselves—to mistake Longfellow’s word for truth, a phenomenon emphasized as the story became part of the oral tradition. The plausible young protagonist was embraced by a people who saw themselves, also exiled and marginalized, within her verse. She connected the Acadians living in Louisiana to their cultural identity and their ancestral homeland. And she embodied a set of values to aspire to, such as strength, perseverance, steadfast faith, and devotion. Prior to the poem’s printing, Le Grande Dérangement—the ethnic cleansing of the Acadian people from the Canadian Maritime provinces by the British—wasn’t yet common knowledge to general populations outside of Louisiana and present-day Nova Scotia, especially considering Longfellow’s work was published nearly a century after the expulsion. As Evangeline gained mass appeal with a mainstream audience, the legend instilled a newfound sense of pride and unity in the Acadian people, heralding an era of Acadian nationalism in the early twentieth century. Longfellow’s version also spurred other accounts of the Great Upheaval; in his 1907 novelette, Acadian Reminiscences: The True Story of Evangeline, Judge Felix Voorhies recounts the story of the “real” Evangeline as it was told to him by his grandmother. According to his telling, Emmeline Labiche and Louis Arceneaux attempted to flee from their village of St. Gabriel in old Acadia, only to be caught by the British and kept apart, eventually fated to reunite in St. Martinville under the now-famed oak. In South Louisiana, the name Evangeline gradually became a signifier to denote Acadian-owned businesses even before Cajun was used as a colloquial term; manufacturers such as the Evangeline Maid Bread Co., small businesses like restaurants, banks, markets, and buildings bore her name and likeness, and of course, the eponymous Cajun prairies of Evangeline Parish were so named in 1910 in her honor. Her image quickly became ubiquitous throughout the region, thoroughly commercialized for the purposes of attracting commerce and cultural tourism, which today continues to lure visitors to places like the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, home to the famed Evangeline Oak on the banks of the Bayou Teche in St. Martinville. Today, creatives across the region continue to find inspiration in Evangeline and her story. Such is the case for lifelong Lafayette resident, poet, and landscape painter Melissa Bonin. For Bonin, who was searching to uncover her own cultural identity as a new mother in 1990, Evangeline was a means to access her Acadian heritage. Two of her paintings




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“A Basket of Roses,” 1980. George Rodrigue. Oil on canvas. 24x18 inches. Private Collection. Courtesy of the Rodrigue Gallery.


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are included in the exhibit at the West Baton Rouge Museum—“Self Portrait With Acadian Bonnet” and “Evangeline of the Canefield”. At the time of Longfellow’s breakthrough success, Bonin pointed out, it was groundbreaking for a classically modeled epic to center on a female heroine. “Longfellow’s poem reveals Evangeline as a woman who, despite all that she had endured, managed to acquire an education, become a nurse, and spend her life in service of others,” Bonin said. “I was a young woman in South Louisiana and I needed a heroine.” For many like Bonin, Evangeline endured as a symbol of hope and resilience; cast out of the only home she had ever known, she exemplified grace and conviction simply by continuing to go on. “I definitely think she’s relevant today, especially with the state of things right now,” Bonin said. “There are so many problems in the state of Louisiana, especially loss and grief with hurricanes and COVID where, you know, we’re all mourning the life we used to have.” Still, some have critiqued Longfellow’s patriarchal notion of Evangeline’s myopic suffering as a romanticization of the Acadians’ very real struggle for survival. Her life is portrayed as a sort of bucolic fantasy even before the exodus, and she is depicted as a sought-after, demure milkmaid promised to Gabriel. She is

characterized by her fidelity and femininity, spending her life in search of true love, when for many Acadian women, reality demanded a hard-scrabble life spent attending to the demands of a rural homestead, caring for livestock and children. “You have to throw yourself out into the world today,” said Darrell Bourque, former Louisiana Poet Laureate and professor emeritus of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “And it’s not only about finding your long lost love. I mean, that’s a pretty idea and all, but can it be the way we move through the world?” Bourque has written two poems on Evangeline: “Evangeline Speaks” in 2011 (also published in his seventh poetry collection, Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems From Acadie, in 2013) and “Evangeline Revisited” in 2021. The second was commissioned by the West Baton Rouge Museum for the 2021 exhibit, and Bourque expands on the idea presented in his first work by once more adopting Evangeline’s perspective, empowering her to take on the role of the poem’s speaker and seeing her story through her own eyes: “​​There is a brief expanse of time in which we are ourselves surely. We feel that in bone and blood and thigh and heart and back and breast, ineffable one’s self. That one-self we give to some other self

if luck is on our side. But that’s not the way stars are made and we are made of stars, not the way legends are made and some of us are legends whether we want to be or not. I had no say in the game.” —Darrell Bourque, “Evangeline Revisited”

“It is a point that recognizes that she is a figure that is a construct rather than a real person,” Bourque said. “There’s no historical Evangeline, and yet, the idea of Evangeline is something that we can’t dismiss because it is a part of our heritage, both historical and literary.” Viewed through a contemporary lens, her image and identity are not her own to claim. In some ways she adapts, like her image evolving over time, and in others remains static, whether acting as a source of inspiration or exploitation. “Evangeline, the heroine as Longfellow saw her, had all the makings and potential to become an archetype, a universal representation of goodness and good news. She was a nurse, a caregiver, at the end of the saga, one of the few ways a woman could take some kind of agency in the world. What keeps her from being that kind of universally appealing figure is that her audience co-opts her heroism by turning her into something that the poet did not intend. She becomes in popular culture a sort of cardboard thin

figure, retiring, demure—a caricature with derailed agency: an oversimplified homemaker, a princess or queen, a figure who can be attached to everything from names of thruways, to banks, to funeral homes, to credit agencies. She can be pasted onto everything and anything, and so she loses her power and agency to be the heroine that she could have been if she had been representative of the strong, resilient, inventive, grounded women who were the real Acadian women who both migrated to other parts of the world from Acadie and the ones who stayed in what was to become the maritime Canadian provinces.” It may be true that the more layers of Evangeline you peel back, the more nuanced the task of reconciling all of her iterations becomes. Above all, though, she helps us to remember who we are and where we come from. In “Evangeline Revisited,” Bourque writes, “Lands make us what we are when we are here.” Here, Longfellow tells us, is the Eden of Louisiana, where our divinely flawed Evie still reigns in all her glory. h

See the exhibition Evangeline: Evolution of an Icon at the West Baton Rouge Museum through October 31.

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“On the Azalea Trail,” 1977. George Rodrigue. Oil on canvas. 40x30 inches. Private Collection. Courtesy of the Rodrigue Gallery. // O C T 2 1





or forty-six years I kept it a secret. I didn’t even tell my wife about it,” Calvin Parker told me in his thick Mississippi accent, referring to the evening of October 11, 1973. That evening, Parker was fishing on the Pascagoula River with his friend Charles Hickson. It was his first day on the job at F.B. Walker and Sons Shipyard—a job Hickson had helped him to get. He was nineteen years old, his wedding a month away, with aspirations to live a simple life. “I wanted to get married, wanted to have children, wanted to have grandchildren, wanted to buy a house, retire, and fish,” said Parker, now sixty-seven, over the phone from the back porch of his current home in Moss Point, Mississippi. “So the retirin’ and fishin’ has come about, but it was a long battle to get there.” Pascagoula native Rebecca Davis distinctly remembers Parker and Hickson’s story first breaking when she was twelve years old. “I was at a friend’s house— and you know we live in the Bible Belt. I asked my friend’s dad why he was put36

Story by Alexandra Kennon • Illustration by Burton Durand ting aluminum foil in the windows,” Davis recalled over the phone. “He told me it was to keep the aliens from getting to our brains.” When Davis got home, she immediately asked her parents and grandparents about the aliens. “I was stopped in my tracks and told, ‘We do not talk about these things. Don’t ever mention it again,’” Davis said. “I was brought up a Missionary Baptist, and so yeah, it was taboo, you didn’t talk about it. And pretty much South Mississippi was that way.” Despite the outward secrecy, when Davis’s grandmother passed away in 2005 and the family cleaned out her house, Davis discovered her grandmother had saved every local newspaper article about the case of Calvin Parker and Charles Hickson. The events the two men reported that night thoroughly derailed Parker’s pursuit of a quiet, mundane life. It had all started when Hickson asked Parker if he wanted to go fishing after work. Parker, new to town, hadn’t brought his fishing gear with him, so Hickson offered to loan him some of his. “Now, for a man

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that loves to fish from the South to offer you to use his fishin’ equipment, that’s like him offerin’ you his wife,” Parker said. “Just unheard of.” The men tried fishing in one location, but the swarming bugs prompted them to head back to the shipyard, where there were fewer lights to attract insects. Parker pointed out “Posted” signs to Hickson when they pulled up, but Hickson brushed off his concerns about breaking the law: “That don’t mean nothin’, I fish here all the time.” They walked down to the old pier, cast out their lines, and waited for a bite. “I distinctly remember: I was lookin’ at a boat across, it was an old oarboat that they do the weather with, and it was made out of steel. And I was thinkin’ to myself, ‘Now, how does somethin’ made out of steel float?’” Parker remembered. “That’s where my mind was, and that’s when I noticed the blue hazy lights coming in from behind. You could see the reflection across the water.” Thinking the lights were the police, he turned to Hickson and said, “Charlie, we in trouble. You lied to me, and we fixin’ to go to jail.”

When the men stood up and turned around, they didn’t see police cars, but instead a long, ovular craft, floating around two feet from the ground, emitting a blindingly bright light. “There was three bulky-lookin’ creatures, I still didn’t know what they were, that was coming toward us,” Parker told me. “By the time they got to us, I still couldn’t see, for the light was so bright.” He described two of the creatures grabbing Hickson, and one grabbing him. “And that’s when it carried me aboard the craft.” Parker said the creature stopped at the door and injected him with what he described as a “Go to hell shot”; whatever it was ushered him from absolute terror to a sort of peaceful apathy. “I didn’t care what happened then.” Parker described being taken aboard the craft, down a hallway, and into a room where the creature placed him on an “examination table” made entirely of glass. According to Parker, at that point the grey, wrinkled creature that brought him aboard the ship left the room. “That’s when something came out of the ceiling, about the size of a deck of

cards.” He said the square-shaped object circled around him, making a series of clicking noises. “I never thought about it until here lately, but it was like this MRI I was in, except the click wasn’t that loud,” Parker explained, looking back. “And then it just shot back up in the ceiling.” Then, a smaller being entered the room, which Parker said made him feel more at ease. He couldn’t move his body but rolled his head toward the creature. “She was normal,” he said. “Matter of fact, if I’d been in a barroom drinking or something, and was single—you know at this time—I’d have probably asked her out on a date.” It looked just like a human, he explained, except for its middle fingers. “Her two middle fingers were real longer than what an average person’s would be.” Parker recalled that, without saying a word, the creature put its left hand on his jaw, and opened his mouth. “That’s when she took her right hand and started running it down my throat, and I started gagging. She had scratched it up real bad, and it was bleedin’, it was a darn mess.” It pulled its hand back out; Parker had the impression that it didn’t want to hurt him anymore. Then, it made a groan from deep within its throat. “I don’t know if you ever heard a alligator’s matin’ call, where they vibrate the whole air around you, but that’s how it sounded.” That’s when the creature that Parker said initially brought him aboard the craft (“I really believe to this day it was a robot,” he added later) returned and carried him back to the bank of the river. “That’s where the story really starts,” he said. “And then my life turned pretty much to hell right after that.” Parker said his first instinct, which Hickson initially agreed with, was to not tell anyone about what happened to them. Shaken and in shock, the men returned to the car to find the passenger door window shattered, though still in place in the frame. When they opened it, the glass fell out. Parker said that the car, which was relatively new and had never previously had issues starting, failed to start several times before it finally cranked, the motor sounding rough. On the drive back home, Hickson changed his mind. He thought they needed to tell someone about what happened to them, despite Parker’s protests. Hickson dialed Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi and briefly explained what happened to them before being told that they didn’t handle UFO reports anymore—Project Blue Book was finished, they said—and to call the local authorities. At the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, the men were questioned separately about their experience, then

put in a room alone together, where they were secretly tape recorded. “On that tape they were still talking about what happened to them, and how scared they were,” said Philip Mantle, a researcher with over forty years of experience studying UFOs, whose company Flying Disk Press published Parker’s two books about the abduction. “I think Calvin’s almost praying at one time.” Parker said that after the deputies listened to the secret tape recording— which he and Hickson didn’t learn existed until much later—they took them more seriously. Parker urged the authorities not to tell anyone about what he and Hickson reported. “I wasn’t gonna tell a soul,” he emphasized. “But when we got back to the shipyard the next day, they already knew.” When they got to work, F.B. Walker & Sons Shipyard was swarmed by news vans—Parker estimated that around two hundred reporters were there hoping to talk to him and Hickson. In addition to the reporters, astronomers and pioneering UFOlogists Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Dr. James Harder arrived in Pascagoula within thirty-six hours to interview and hypnotize Parker and Hickson. “Now how he got from California to Pascagoula, Mississippi in that short amount of time I don’t know, but he was down there,” Parker later told me about Hynek, who was the scientific advisor for three major UFO studies undertaken by the U.S. Air Force: Project Sign, Project Grudge, and Project Blue Book. “Of course, I lost my job at the shipyard, because people wouldn’t leave [me] alone,” Parker told me. He drove back home to Laurel, hoping to leave the events of October 11 behind in Pascagoula. “And it started from there. It was just like a roller coaster. I went to work, the reporter would show up at work while I was workin’, and you know, the people you work for, eventually, they get tired of that, so I’d lose another job.” Eventually, Parker went by the name “Randy” to avoid the constant barrage of press. “And that’s where I went from there, to hide. But this has followed me all my life.” From his home in West Yorkshire in the north of England, Mantle described the plot of the 1980s television show The Hulk. “Basically, The Hulk was tracked by a journalist. And every time the journalist caught up with him, he’d move on to the next town. Calvin was the real life Hulk, although he didn’t turn into a big green monster. Every time he was recognized, or the journalists caught up with him, he literally, with his wife and family, packed up to get away from them, so they would start all over again.”

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Of course, despite the sheriff office’s secret tape recording, the multiple hypnosis sessions, and the polygraph tests backing up Parker and Hickson’s story, many of even the men’s own friends and family did not believe them. “We took polygraph tests, voice stress tests, been hypnotized three times, had more credible witnesses than any case around, and more credible people talkin’,” Parker said. “But see, back in the ‘70s, people thought you was crazy to have done somethin’ or seen somethin’ like that.” Parker said that he isn’t sure who believed him and who didn’t at the time, because he avoided talking about it for so long. “One thing: my daddy-in-law didn’t believe me, when this first happened. He told my wife ‘You don’t need to marry him,’ and all that stuff,” he said. “But he came back and apologized. He pulled me aside and said ‘Son, I owe you an apology…I didn’t believe you when this happened, but I’ve seen something since then, and I believe it. There’s no

doubt in my mind that this happened to you.’” Parker, still a religious man, had once considered becoming a preacher— another dream derailed that night. “It took so much credibility away, that I wouldn’t have enough people comin’ that would believe me, I didn’t think.” When a documentary reporter later asked him, “How would you feel if I told you I didn’t believe you?” Parker answered, “You know, fella, that’s your opinion. If you want to believe it, you can. If you don’t, you don’t. I know what happened. I know I’m tellin’ the truth.” Now, in his retirement, and with Hickson having passed away in 2011, Parker is more open to talking about that night than he was before; his wife Waynett is largely to thank for that. This is despite the fact that, decades ago, Parker’s experience on the river led to their brief divorce before they remarried. “It was all my fault, it wasn’t her fault,” Parker emphasized on speaker phone,


with Waynett sitting next to him on the porch. “I just couldn’t handle the pressure. I had a nervous breakdown.” It was Waynett who encouraged Parker to write his books, to stop going to such great lengths to avoid talking about the abduction. She got the idea a few years ago, when they were attending a neighbor’s wake together. Parker hadn’t used his real name in their neighborhood—until then, when he signed the register book. “Well, hell honey, they started looking for him at the wake, people were,” recalled Waynett. People were approaching Parker, asking for him to tell the story, and requesting pictures. “People were taking pictures! It just wasn’t the place or the time,” she said. After leaving the wake, she told her husband, “Baby, we need to write a book,” suggesting that if he put his story out there, people might quit asking him about it so much. Parker replied, “I’m not gonna write no book.” Waynett went to the library to check out a book about publishing, anyway. “And in the meantime, Philip Mantle had contacted Calvin, and he’d been looking for him forever. And between me and Philip, Calvin didn’t really have a choice,” she laughed. Mantle has been studying UFOs for over forty years, and to this day finds

Parker and Hickson’s case one of the most remarkable and credible of the countless he has researched. In addition to the many books he has written and published with Flying Disk Press, Mantle’s resume includes former Director of Investigations for the British UFO Research Association, and former Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) representative for England. He first learned about the Pascagoula abduction in the early 1980s, when the British magazine series The Unexplained published an article about it. “It always stuck with me,” Mantle said. “I don’t know what it was, Alexandra, but something just stuck in my mind about it.” Mantle first tried to get ahold of Charles Hickson, knowing he’d spoken at conferences in the past and was more open to discussing the encounter than Parker. Later, after Mantle began his publishing company, he set about obtaining the rights to republish Hickson’s book, but discovered that Hickson had already passed away. “As I’m preparing this for publication, I thought, ‘I’m sure Calvin Parker is still alive. I wonder if I can get an interview with him,’” he said. “So, I set off trying to find Calvin.” After three long months of searching, a fellow UFO researcher was able to connect them. “So, we spoke on the phone,

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and he was polite, you know, but wasn’t really telling me a lot,” Mantle said of he and Parker’s first conversation across the Atlantic. When Parker mentioned his wife wanted him to write a book, Mantle told him about his publishing business, and sent over a draft contract. To his amazement, Parker signed it, and they began working on what would become Pascagoula—The Closest Encounter: My Story. One of Parker’s biggest stipulations before agreeing to the project was that Mantle was not to edit anything, despite Parker’s lack of formal education or writing background. “So, what he told me was exactly what we were going to publish,” Mantle noted. “Even said keep the spelling mistakes in, and the typos, and the grammar, because he wanted people to know who he was, as well as what had happened to him. And that was very important to him.” Parker corroborated this. “I made him agree to not change nothin’. Not to correct any spelling, not to change a word or anything in the book,” Parker said. “And he’s held by that, and did good.” Now that Parker has written two books published for international audiences by Mantle’s Flying Disk Press, by all accounts he’s glad he did. “We’d never taken vacations or anything. So, after the

book, I got a chance to go to these conferences and speak. And it really opened my relationship with my wife,” Parker remarked. To both Parker and Mantle’s surprise, the book was a massive success. According to Mantle, the books he publishes with Flying Disk Press are not typically commercial successes, but are books he thinks deserve to be published, nonetheless. Besides his wife occasionally making him a cup of tea, he said, he is the comAn artistic rendering of the night that Parker and Hickson claim to have been abducted by aliens. pany’s sole employee. Artwork by Jason Gleaves, courtesy of Flying Disk Press “To our amazement, it became an Amazon In 2019, a historical marker was placed bestseller, and featured in USA Today, as but that he had never spoken to them well as local and national papers. And it about. “Since then, I’ve told it millions near the Pascagoula River, across from just went from there,” Mantle said. “The of times. I didn’t know there was such an the site where the alleged abduction took interest in all this,” Parker marveled. “He place. “It remains the best documented rest, as they say, is history.” When the book was first released, gets a standing ovation when he gives a case of alien abduction, particularly Parker gave copies to his own friends and talk at a conference, everywhere we have since there is a secret tape involved, and family as a means of explaining to them been,” Waynett chimed in, her pride not one, but two witnesses,” the end of the plaque reads. When it was officially the story that so impacted his entire life, audible.

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The spot on the Pascagoula River where Calvin Parker and Charles Hickson were fishing the night they claim that they were abducted by aliens. Image courtesy of Calvin Parker via Flying Disk Press.

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unveiled, Parker was so overwhelmed by the emotions of finally having the story he was ridiculed about for decades legitimized that he cried. “It was one of the happiest moments in his life. And that is rare, that such memorials to UFO incidents exist,” Mantle said. “There are a couple, in different parts of the world, but they’re usually placed there long after they’re dead and gone, you know. Thankfully, Calvin was there to see it and enjoy it, and have it officially unveiled.” In recent years, even more instances of validation of the story have emerged. More than two dozen witnesses have come forward with their own reports of UFO sightings on or around the Pascagoula River in Jackson County in the weeks surrounding October 11. One man reported seeing a large ship floating over the river from the cab of his crane while he worked that night. A couple reported seeing a large vessel with a blue light flying low over the river as they drove over a bridge. When the man went to visit his aunt the next day—who also lived in the area—before he said anything about the sighting, she said “You’ll never guess what I saw last night,” and reported the same thing. Another couple said they were on the opposite bank, waiting for a boat to come in, when they saw blue lights across the river, and a grey creature in the water. The man told his wife, “Don’t tell anyone, they’ll think we’re nuts.” “Of course the next day, who was on the TV news?” Mantle asked, and answered, “Charlie and Calvin.” Mantle, along with Dr. Irena Scott, a

physiologist who has authored multiple books on UFOs, have been diligently at work tracking down these witnesses and collecting their accounts for a new book, The Pascagoula Close Encounter— Witnesses On The Record, which is set to release sometime next year. “My wife said I was like a proper police investigator, looking for this evidence,” Mantle chuckled. “And we found it, we found it.” One of the best-documented witness accounts came from two fishing boats—with ten passengers total—that went out on the river on November 6 that same year. The fishing party said they saw something large and illuminated floating beneath the surface of the water, which they hit with an oar, before playing cat and mouse with the vessel, chasing it around the river. They reported the encounter to the Coast Guard, who sent a boat out, and experienced exactly the same thing. “We have all the Coast Guard documents,” Mantle said. “It was all documented.” He has since located a photograph of the ten witnesses in the fishing party, and with the help of social media, has tracked down and interviewed one of them who is still alive, who confirmed the account. “This is just a few weeks after the event in the same river. Make of it what you will,” Mantle said. “Information still comes in slowly but surely, but it still comes in. I’m a bit of a pest, Alexandra. My colleagues groan when they get an email from me if it says ‘Pascagoula’ in the subject.” Mantle said that it’s understandable that so many witnesses hesitated

to come forward sooner. “We have to remember as well, in those days, who would you tell? If you see the news media basically mocking Charlie and Calvin, there really wasn’t anyone else,” he said. “They were different times. And of course, when Calvin came out of the woods and went on the record, they saw the media coverage, the second time around, treating it very respectfully. So that encouraged them to do exactly the same.” Mantle and Parker, who have forged an unconventional friendship Skyping in their vastly different accents from across the globe, are hopeful that even more witnesses will continue to come forward with reports from that strange

autumn in and around Jackson County. “There seems to have been a huge, what we call, a ‘flap’. There were a lot of UFO sightings from a few days before to a few days afterward. But the peak of them was the Parker and Hickson event, if you like,” Mantle explained. “And by all means: if there’s anyone out there that did see anything, and that will be willing to speak to us in confidence, by all means, ask them to come forward… we guarantee we will treat them with respect and not release their details if that’s what they want. We’re just interested in the information…it’s as simple as that.” Since his first book came out, Parker told me he no longer has nightmares

Calvin Parker’s books, Pascagoula—The Closest Encounter: My Story and Pascagoula— The Story Continues: New Evidence & New Witnesses are available online and in various Pascagoula shops, from Flying Disk Press. Dr. Irena Scott’s book, Beyond Pascagoula, will be released October 1, and the book she co-authored with Mantle, The Pascagoula Close Encounter— Witnesses On The Record will be released sometime in 2022. Flying Disk Press is also working on a graphic novel about the abduction. A three-part documentary series based on Parker’s story has been picked up by a UK broadcasting company, and a five-part drama series is currently in discussion

about the abduction. “After the book came out, I put all this behind me. It’s out in the open, I’ve accepted it. And it was just a big relief come across my shoulders,” he said. His energy these days is spent enjoying his retirement with Waynett, fishing, and battling a recent cancer diagnosis. “I’m fighting a totally different battle right now,” he said. “But it’s not the first one.” Despite all this, he says he’ll never forget what happened to him the night of October 11, 1973. “I feel like we was just at the right place at the wrong time,” Parker said of he and Hickson’s choice of fishing location that night. “But like I say, it’s somethin’ that lives with you.” h

with a number of production companies, as well. Mantle and Parker both hope that by getting the story out to a wider audience, more witnesses will come forward with information. “What we would both like to ask is if you can ask others to step forward if they saw anything out of the ordinary around that date and please contact us in complete confidence,” said Mantle. If you or anyone you know has information, you can email him at On October 15, from 5 pm–9 pm, there will be an “Out of this World” themed Third Friday event, hosted by Main Street Pascagoula.

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Stories From the Hidden Cemetery IN POINT BLUE’S PAUPER’S GRAVEYARD, LITTLE LEGENDS LIVE ON Story by Jordan LaHaye Fontenot • Photos by Olivia Perillo


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hen it rains in Point Blue, a single perfect pink lily blooms right behind the graves of four children. The two sets of twins each lived only for a day. They join about sixty others lying in the dark prairie clay beside the Bayou Marron, nestled under a shroud of trees in the corner of a crawfish field. J.D. Soileau, the graveyard’s gentle overseer, points to the blossom. It’s a Rain Lily, he says, part of the amaryllis family. The significance of nature’s tiny brilliant gifts are not lost on him. In the spring, when the Mexican Petunias grow wild between the graves, he stops mowing the grass for a few weeks. The hulking Gardenia bushes in the corner, he explains, were likely planted two hundred years ago for their perfume, before the folks living in these rural areas bothered to embalm their dead. In the fall of 2020, volunteers with the local Catholic Daughters organization came and placed a single silk flower in a vase on each and every visible grave. On my visit one year later, the flowers had wilted in the way that fake flowers do; accumulating dirt and wear in a way that was a little sad, but also a little beautiful. A retired schoolteacher and farmer from Point Blue, Soileau has been volunteering his time at the Leon Manuel Cemetery—more commonly known as “The Hidden Cemetery”—for seventeen years now. Today used as one of Evangeline Parish’s three public graveyards, the grove is scattered with graves dated as far back as the mid-nineteenth century, with ornate blacksmithed metal crosses and plaques written over in French script. Soileau, a hobby historian, has discovered through his research that the crosses are identical to grave markers used in France. Very likely, either the crosses themselves or the tradition from which they were made came with the French or Acadian settlers in the eighteenth century. On the most beautiful of these, standing tall at the head of a brick-laid grave totally decimated by weather and time, reads in a handwritten scrawl: “Ici cit D. Dupléchain décédée a l’age de 67 ans et 8 mois le 7 de Octobre 1904. Adieu Per.” On many more, the dates are now illegible, and there are almost certainly dozens that are unmarked entirely. In the far corner, there is one that is marked by only a rusted metal pole, which Soileau explains is the axle from a buggy’s wheel. Soileau has gotten to know many of the souls whose bodies lie here by way of the people who visit them, and by holding a strong finger to the pulse of the Point Blue community and its families. Telling the story of “MerMer Pitchout”—for whom the graveyard’s neighborhood “L’anse á Pitchout”—was named, he casually mentions that her granddaughter Flo turned ninety-four in June. As he walks through, pointing to one grave or another, he says things like “Maudrey Miller from Reddell? That’s his grandparents. Related to Eula Miller and them.” Or “The ones over there are the Fontenots. The grandson or great grandson worked at the courthouse in Opelousas.” “That one,” he gestures, “lost a duel.” Soileau was first spurred to start coming here by a rumor that his great grandfather and aunt were buried in the Hidden Cemetery, which at the time sat wild and abandoned—taken over by the invasive chicken trees. He never did find his family there, but he started cleaning the place up. Shortly after, around 2004, the Evangeline Parish Police Jury started using the site as a

resting place for unclaimed and indigent bodies. Since then, along with general upkeep like lawn mowing and basic maintenance, Soileau has volunteered his time hand-crafting cement crosses to mark the graves of these forgotten dead. Today, whenever Ardoin’s Funeral Home in Ville Platte receives a body without funds to bury it, they’ll call the police jury and Soileau. “Ardoin’s will embalm you for free,” he says. “But they put you in a casket-shaped cardboard box.” After receiving word of a body on its way, Soileau will go out with a probe, searching for a free swath of ground, and he’ll mark the spot with a flag. The police jury will dig the hole, and later Soileau will come to set the cross into the dirt, a simple gesture of witness to a life once lived. A woman named Elizabeth was Soileau’s first. When the hospital called her family to tell them she had died of an overdose, they didn’t want her. “Y’all can throw her in a ditch,” they said, according to Soileau. He remembers that he came to help dig the grave at the Hidden Cemetery, and that the entire family then showed up to watch. “They brought a big ole ice chest of beer,” he recalls. “Said ‘I hope y’all don’t mind,’ and popped the lid.” Soileau says there are many reasons why bodies end up in pauper’s graves, most often simple cases of the funeral home being unable to find any family or connections to a person at all. Sometimes people can afford a headstone, but not a plot or a coffin. Often, they can’t afford any of it. Sometimes it is more complicated, though. Lying just beside Elizabeth is Tiffany, whose grave is one of the few marked by an ornate modern headstone. When Tiffany died in 2008, she was supposed to be buried in Opelousas with her mother, who she cared for in her old age. But because she was transgender, her brothers told the funeral home they didn’t want to pay to bury her. “She was an antique collector,” says Soileau. “And she had a bunch of friends. They got her a nice headstone.” Years later, a couple of men—her brothers— tracked Soileau down to find out where she was buried. “They wanted to come and see her, and to say goodbye.” We walk across the grove to the treeline, where an aisle of Soileau’s signature crosses stand. “This one came with Katrina,” he says, pointing towards one grave near the center. He was a nursing home evacuee to Evangeline Parish who no one ever tried to find. “He didn’t have anybody. And when he died, they buried him here.” Just a few slots beside him lies a Navy veteran, whose plaque was stolen from Soileau’s cross in 2016. Soileau noticed its absence right away and reported the theft to the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office. The crime was covered in the Ville Platte Gazette, with an optimistic request for information. One can’t help but wonder about the person who wandered into a cemetery in the truest bluest middle of nowhere to steal a single twenty-four by twelve inch plaque, of all things. “They never found it,” says Soileau, “but I had another one made for him.” The only other notable mention of the cemetery that I can find in The Gazette’s archives is the case of another crime, this one in 1984. The headline reads: “Deputies probing grave desecration”. On a Thursday evening

following several weeks of rain, the great-great granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Soulee Lafleur had come to lay flowers upon their double grave, only to find it in absolute ruin. As written by then-Editor Ben Reed of The Gazette: “The vandal or vandals, apparently wielding some sort of large sledge hammer, slammed their way through the brick and nine-inch thick concrete slab to get to the victims. The identifying cross was stolen from the scene, and the debris from the grave, said to be at least one hundred years old but maybe even more, dumped back into the brick vault, covering up whatever further damage they might have done to the coffin and deceased within.” Though the Sheriff’s department promised a thorough investigation, which would include exhuming the bodies beneath the rubble, a follow up article a few months later admitted that no progress had been made. As far as anyone knows, the vandals were never discovered. And the grave, still today an arresting pile of rubble at the cemetery’s center, was never repaired. Other graves across the cemetery sit in various stages of their own kind of decay: cracks stretching cobwebby over their slabs, bricks missing like baby teeth. One of the old iron crosses has been totally encompassed by the century-thickened roots of a catalpa tree in the corner. Even Soileau’s crosses—marking the youngest of the grove’s residents—sink into the oft-waterlogged soil of the Chatagnier prairie, sometimes all the way down to their armpits, tilted just so. Soileau will occasionally take time to spruce up some of the older graves, though he prefers to first get permission from the families when possible. He wanted to fix Mrs. Pitchout’s grave, which also holds her husband Paruse. Paruse died at the foot of a startled horse, after tapping it on the hip from behind. And as for poor Mrs. Pitchout, her nightgown caught on fire some years later. Soileau asked Mrs. Flo (who turned ninety-four in June) if he could break up the crumbling slab further, then return it to the hole as gravel. She gave her permission, and even had an updated plaque made for her grandparents using a chunk of the original slab— making their resting place one of the nicest in the Hidden Cemetery. One of the most noticeable graves on the property is the Millers’. An entire family settled beneath a California king-sized block of cement. Before that was put in, all of the family’s individual grave markers were broken, and one of the descendants had reached out to Soileau about getting them redone. “It ended up being cheaper to do one big block instead of four individual ones,” said Soileau. They preserved the iron crosses, though, poking out of that concrete bed like fossils in a sidewalk. It’s around this unwieldy family tomb that one will see the largest concentration of children’s graves. “You see there were a lot of babies,” says Soileau. “In those days, children died so much more often.” He says that many of them had likely died of le grand fevier, the Yellow Fever epidemic that plagued Louisiana throughout the nineteenth century. Watching me look closely at one set of old graves—arranged side by side—Soileau names one, “Ophelia”. “She and her baby right here died almost on the same day,” he says. “He was four.” Walking towards the back corner of the graveyard, // O C T 2 1


J.D. Soileau has served as a volunteer caretaker of the Leon Manual Cementery—more often known as “The Hidden Cemetery” since 2004.

Soileau tells me that one of the most fascinating things he’s witnessed since he’s started coming here is a tradition practiced by a Black family who used to visit often. “The last time they came, the old lady—she was from Eunice—was in her nineties,” he says, noting that it had been at least two years since they visited. Led by this matriarch, the family would come to the cemetery each year before All Souls Day—visiting ancestors who had died long before most of them had been born. Pointing at little piles of broken glass and a cracked red plastic cup, Soileau shares that one of the little girls had once explained the ritual to him. “On All Souls Day, the souls come back and are thirsty.” So, family members set out jars of water for their dead. The broken glass was the doing of last winter’s freeze, he explains. According to local lore cited in the


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1984 Gazette article, the Hidden Cemetery was once a shrewd hiding place for people who escaped slavery. Though difficult to definitively verify, this accounted history is supported by the graveyard’s proximity of the Bayou Marron—the word “Marron” perhaps being derived from the word “marronage,” which historically refers to groups of enslaved people who escaped plantations. “Marroons,” as these groups were called, often went on to form independent communities of their own in the swamps and backwoods of rural Louisiana. Though this wooded corner of the vast Acadian prairie looks undoubtedly different than it did two hundred years ago, it isn’t difficult now to see its appeal as a refuge, as a place away from the confines of society and its cruelty. There’s something, in this quiet strangeness, that feels enduringly safe. A place for the forgotten,

the unwanted, and the formerly enslaved to rest unbothered. “There are so many stories about this old cemetery,” says Soileau, then adding that this is probably true of most cemeteries. Death draws out lore, certainly. Existing just beyond our understanding, it pricks the imagination. But perhaps it’s just the nature of the things—lives and all they once held, crowded together like old books. “Some people even believe there is buried gold here,” laughs Soileau. He leads me down a hundred-or-so-yard path through the woods, passing a lone headstone here and there. I don’t know what I was expecting to see, but it wasn’t a massive, perfectly round hole, deep enough for a grown man to stand in and wide enough for six or so others to join him. “When I first started coming out here,” says Soileau, “I thought that maybe it

had been dug as a means to hold water for when people came to whitewash the graves.” One day though, he learned the real story from an old man from the neighborhood. “He said they had heard all kinda stories about money over here left from the Civil War. Gold. So they came out here, about four of them. They came in the middle of the night for some reason, with lanterns and a jug of wine. And they dug and they dug and they dug. They ran out of wine. And they didn’t find anything.” Soileau says that the gold digging storyteller’s daughter was a classmate of his, who later told him: “On that old man’s deathbed, he was still talking about the gold in the Hidden Cemetery.” h


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S H O R T Y ’ S TA K E O N A C L A S S I C

Shreveport’s Schwarzwaldtårta


Story by Chris Jay • Photos by Federico Villaseñor


he perfect way to end a perfect dinner in Shreveport is with Black Forest Cake, of course,” reads a line from the July 10, 1981 edition of the Shreveport Journal’s dining column, “Eating Out”. Though today it has all but vanished from local menus, from the 1960s until the 1990s, Chef Shorty Lenard’s dessert was a ubiquitous presence at Shreveport’s upscale restaurants, members-only clubs, event venues, and social gatherings. It all began in 1962, when Chef Alma Clifton “Shorty” Lenard debuted his version of Black Forest Cake at the Shreveport Club. Born in Arcadia in 1921, Shorty’s culinary history begins at his father’s café in nearby Simsboro. He honed his craft in Europe while serving in the U.S. Army’s Fourth Infantry Division from 1940 until 1945. By 1947, he’d made his way home to North Louisiana and begun a career as a professional chef. And by 1962, he was a trusted and esteemed member of the Shreveport culinary scene. Aside from its name, Shorty’s Black Forest Cake shared few characteristics with the classic Black Forest Gâteau. Shorty’s version replaced the gâteau’s simple sponge cake layers with fragile discs of baked meringue, and daringly nixed the German delicacy’s Maraschino cherries. The resulting dessert is a wonder of contrasting textures. Luxurious layers of whipped cream and velvety German chocolate are punctuated by the satisfying crunch of crisp meringue laced with finely chopped almonds and hazelnuts. Keith Lenard, Shorty’s son and a retired chef himself, does not mince words about his late father’s best-known menu item. “It’s not a Black Forest Cake at all,” he said. “It’s a torte. It’s an almond egg white meringue torte with German chocolate and whipped cream layers. It may seem simple, but I promise you it’s not.” In fact, Shorty’s cake actually resembles the Swiss version of Black Forest Cake, called Schwarzwaldtårta, as opposed to the more commonly-recognized German one. It’s possible, then, that he may have learned to make the cake from Chef Joe Amstutz, a Swiss Chef who worked at the Shreveport Club from 1947 until 1958. Shorty told reporters that he had concocted the recipe while attempting to recreate a European dessert from memory. Some former employees have even claimed they heard the chef say he had gotten the recipe from an issue of Southern Living. However it originated, word of Shorty Lenard’s Black Forest Cake spread like wildfire, the dish hopping from one kitchen to another as often as the temperamental chef changed jobs. Because Shorty spent twenty years cooking for restaurants and clubs that doubled as event venues, the cake came to be associated with weddings and special occasions. In this way, Shorty’s


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Black Forest Cake became an emotional touchstone for Shreveporters, many of whom still associate the cake with the happiest nights of their lives. Shorty opened his own restaurant, Shorty Lenard’s, in 1976. The fifteen-table café, which occupied a former fast food drive-thru, quickly gathered a following with its upscale French and Italian cuisine. Shorty relocated the restaurant to a more suitable address in 1981, a mansion-turned-restaurant where a sign at the entrance welcomed diners to the “Home of the Black Forest Cake.” When Shorty Lenard’s closed in 1988, the seventy-one year-old chef was still at it. He cooked at hotels and riverboat casinos in downtown Shreveport, including the Chateau Suite Hotel, which ran a weekly ad promoting “Chef Shorty Lenard’s Sunday Buffet featuring Prime Rib and Black Forest Cake.” There was even a Black Forest Cake booth at the Red River Revel, Shreveport’s largest annual outdoor festival. “I bet I’ve sold $100,000 or more worth of that cake,” Shorty told

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The Times in 1987. “What one recipe can do for you is wonderful.” The three-decade reign of Shorty Lenard’s Black Forest Cake came to a close in the years preceding Shorty’s death in 2003. As suddenly as it emerged, the wildly popular dessert all but disappeared from local restaurants and bakeries. “It ended in the mid-to-late 1990s, when my father went to work for the riverboat casinos,” Keith Lenard said. “Without his own personal kitchen to work out of, it was impossible for him to keep doing it.”


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Today, there are several home-based bakers who market the cake, mostly around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, using Facebook and Instagram to reach customers who long for a taste of Shreveport past. Chef Blake Jackson, owner of Shreveport’s Whisk Dessert Bar, said that his bakery regularly receives calls requesting Shorty Lenard-style Black Forest Cake. “There’s a lot of nostalgia for this cake, and there’s definitely a market for it,” Jackson said. “It’s a tradition that should be continued.”

Part of the dish’s enduring mystique is the fact that it is notoriously challenging to make. The fragile meringue discs, Jackson said, require three hours to bake and must then be left in a sealed oven to dry overnight. Otherwise, the humid Louisiana air will intrude. (“You don’t want a wet meringue,” Jackson cautioned.) In Shorty’s kitchens, according to former employees, the chef stacked meringue discs beneath the vent hood, running the vent in order to pull moisture away from them.

Once the fragile discs are successfully baked and dried, they are layered with fresh whipped cream and a German chocolate-based filling before the entire assemblage is covered with even more whipped cream. Finally, chocolate shavings are added to the cake’s top and sides. Even serving the cake is difficult. “I’ve cut this cake a lot of different ways, and it just does not cut nicely. It crumbles,” Jackson said. “Also, there’s the simple fact that it’s covered in fresh whipped cream. When you’ve got a whipped cream exterior, and you introduce it to this Louisiana heat...a lot can go wrong.” Happily, the recipe and instructions for Shorty Lenard-style Black Forest Cake were published in two popular Shreveport cookbooks produced by the Junior League of Shreveport-Bossier, A Cook’s Tour of Shreveport and Revel. More than a quarter-million copies of A Cook’s Tour of Shreveport were sold over the course of twelve printings between 1964 and 2011, making it one of the easiest Shreveport cookbooks to track down. This means that virtually anyone who is up to the challenge can try their hand at recreating Chef Shorty’s Black Forest Cake. Keith Lenard hopes that a new generation will learn about, cook, and enjoy his late father’s beloved creation. “It keeps my dad’s memory alive, and I think it’s an important part of the Shreveport story,” Keith Lenard said. “I just hope the cake stays alive.”

By the writer’s estimation, it’s likely been over thirty years since someone could walk into a bakery in Shreveport and buy a slice of Shorty Lenardstyle Black Forest Cake. After whipping one up for our photo shoot, Chef Blake Jackson has decided to start serving the mythical dessert by the slice at Whisk Dessert Bar. Inquiries for purchase of whole cakes can be made through or (318) 459-8771. If you are feeling brave and would like to try your hand at the Black Forest Cake yourself, find the recipe on our website at

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Unearthing Prehistory, One Shard at a Time FRANK MCMAINS IS DIGGING INTO LOUISIANA’S PAST By Tom Guarisco

On several artifact-finding expeditions carried out over the course of just a few months this year, Frank McMains has amassed a collection of about four hundred carved pottery shards and more than three dozen points and blades. All images courtesy of McMains.


t’s a warm spring day, and Frank McMains is stepping carefully through a muddy field in rural northeast Louisiana. He’s driven a little over two hhours north from his Baton Rouge home to get here. The Native Americans who once populated this area left no written or recorded history, but they did leave clues. And McMains aims to find them. The ancient past may be murky, but this stretch of Tensas Parish is familiar to the photographer and writer. He’s been coming here since he was a boy, staying at his family’s home on nearby Lake Bruin—an oxbow lake scoured and then abandoned by the ever-shifting Mississippi River. On this day, though, fields of young corn, cotton, and soybeans stretch out in all directions around McMains. The ground seems flat, but a closer look reveals subtle ridges and dips that undulate through the land like gentle waves. It’s this topography that has captured McMains’ attention, and it’s the reason he’s here hunting for


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artifacts left by the villagers who lived where he is standing twelve hundred to two thousand years ago. He steps carefully between the rows, head down, eyes scanning the ground to and fro for man-made shapes. Focused in this way, he sometimes loses track of time, and the search can go on for hours. “There,” McMains says, pointing to the ground. Laying snugly on the damp soil is an angular clay shard no bigger than a quarter, its dirt-filled carved lines clearly contrasting its light clay surface. It has been tilled by the farmer’s plow, and rinsed by the spring rains. Carved clay shards such as this one are remnants of clay containers once used to carry or store food and water, or to cook with. Each shard seems unremarkable, random pieces of a jigsaw puzzle never to be completed. Examining artifacts from ancient village sites like this one in relation to ancient earthen mounds, it’s possible to learn more about how people once lived. With the benefit of fresh elevation data and satellite imagery, an

extraordinary story emerges about the sprawling cultures that thrived here for thousands of years, and the vital skills and knowledge they gained. “What’s most compelling is when you're out on the village sites, and you see all that material, you just realize how many people were here and for how long,” he said. At one point, thousands of people are believed to have lived in the area around Poverty Point, McMains said. “When you’re standing in an empty agricultural field in the least populous parish in the state,” McMains said, “the contrast is inescapable.” Any study of ancient culture in Louisiana begins with earthen mounds. If you grew up in Louisiana you probably learned about—and may have even made a field trip to—Poverty Point, that ancient complex of earthen mounds and ridges in North Louisiana. At 3,500 years old, the Poverty Point complex was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 for its

archaeological importance. Still, Poverty Point is not the oldest site of ancient civilization in Louisiana. That distinction belongs to Watson Brake, which was built over five thousand years ago. The LSU Campus mounds are older too, built twenty-six hundred years before Poverty Point. Today, there are hundreds of mound complexes across Louisiana, representing a span of five thousand years of human history. Archaeologists have long studied these earthworks and the artifacts discovered around them, gleaning insights into the people who built them. We know, for example, that mounds served both ceremonial and practical functions in what was most likely “a complex mix of practicality, mythology, and religion,” said Charles “Chip” McGimsey, Louisiana State Archaeologist and Director of the Division of Archaeology. Artifacts discovered around these ancient Mississippi Delta settlements include clay blocks and balls used for cooking and heating; stone tools such as axes; game pieces; carved beads; and atlatls, weapons used to hurl darts at prey. Based on these remnants and on the mounds themselves, researchers have been able to develop certain understandings of the people who left them behind. For example, experts have deduced that the 5,400 year old mounds of Watson Brake, discovered in the early 1980s after timber had been cleared in Ouachita Parish, once functioned in part as a calendar. “They were built on lines of sight so if you’re standing on one, and looking out over the top of another, it points you to certain celestial events on the horizon such as solstices and equinoxes,” said McGimsey. This would have been important information for

rituals, which were a vital part of mound culture. For example, McGimsey said, on the winter solstice when days are their shortest, people may have believed they would have a food shortage unless they performed ceremonies urging the sun’s return. Mounds also served as periodic gathering places for trade, he said, perhaps the way England’s medieval cathedrals weren’t only places of worship or where couples married; they also hosted wool markets where sheep farmers gathered to trade with buyers from mainland Europe. “Mound complexes would have been part of their way of life,” McGimsey said. “Mayas, for example, believed

there were certain times that the souls of the dead could leave this earth and go to the spirit world, and that was a big event for them. Who knows what people in Louisiana were believing?” McMains is a man of many interests and seeker of many answers. The former magazine publisher, record producer, and bar owner began his enduring exploration of history and culture in 2014, when he traveled to Southern Mexico. He immersed himself in the rich culture and history of Chiapas. In subsequent years he has spent time photographing people living in the foothills of the Himalayas and other historic sites around the globe,

Frank McMains’ interest in ancient Louisiana cultures began around five years ago, when he started researching ceremonial mound complexes in North Louisiana.

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and he has become an avid student of the economics and coinage of Roman and Greek cultures. McMains’ interest in the ancient cultures of the Mississippi Valley began about five years ago when he found himself studying maps and elevation data for Tensas Parish. He was surprised at how many ceremonial mound complexes he spotted, and how familiar they looked. “Archeologically, they echoed stuff I’d seen in Central America,” he said. “I wanted to figure out what those were, how many people were around, and what their lives were like.” For four years, McMains continued to study and analyze northeast Louisiana’s terrain—searching for signs of ancient villages and mound complexes. Earlier this year, he took his search into the field and to ancient villages whose locations were determined by the river system. “I think it’s valuable,” he said, “to consider how people were able to live in this highly-challenging environment of the

It was on the ridges that ancient people established villages, and where McMains has found most of his pottery shards and points. On the particular spring day mentioned above, McMains was hunting in a field near the Balmoral Mounds, a trio of one thousand-year-old earthworks first identified by Harvard University researchers in the 1930s. Billy Guthrie, a farmer who works on the privately-owned property, encouraged McMains with stories about how he and fellow farmers had been plowing up pottery pieces and arrow points for years. On several artifact-finding expeditions carried out over the course of just a few months this year, McMains has amassed a collection of about four hundred carved pottery shards and more than three dozen points and blades. After discovering them on the surface, he carefully cleans, photographs, and catalogues each piece, which he then displays in framed glass cases in his home.

Mississippi Valley—with all this water coming through it and the land constantly being re-sculpted through flooding—to see how they lived here for thousands of years.” Just as flooding and climate change cause havoc in the modern world, the flow and shifting course of the Mississippi River Delta system dominated the environment in which Louisiana’s ancient cultures lived. “Rather than scouring a stream or cutting deep into the earth, the Mississippi River was more like a hose spraying across a driveway, but depositing all the silt that built what we’re standing on today,” McMains said. “The process is still going, but different.” The Mississippi River only settled into its present eastern cut eight to twelve hundred years ago, McMains said (though noting that this theory is still a subject of dispute among some). “For maybe three thousand years before that, it was a braided stream in which three or more significant bodies of water criss-crossed each other.”

The artifacts reveal considerable skill and artistry. The points, which are knapped from a locally-occurring quartz rock called chert, still hold sharp edges and would have been effective hunting tools. McMains shares details about his collection with professors and scholars and hopes to develop it enough to someday donate to a museum or university. Even more compelling than artifacts themselves, he said, is the search for deeper knowledge and wisdom about the history of mankind living harmoniously with water—both the bounty it helps produce, and the threat it poses. “All of these (cultures) coalesced or were all wiped out by natural events, so what should we learn? Water is the limiting factor around here,” McMains said. “We have got to come to terms with the way we live in or near water.” h

Keep up with McMains’ photography and explorations at

A Big Brown Bat, photographed roosting in a culvert. Photo courtesy of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.


Our Local Bats



n a recent summer afternoon, I found myself on my hands and knees looking at what appeared to be a tiny, sneering Brazilian Freetailed bat. It was all a part of my mission to learn more about Louisiana’s twelve species of bats, and about the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ bat monitoring program. These flying mammals are an integral part of our environment and provide critical ecosystem services. And they face many threats. One major threat facing bats in Louisiana is habitat alterations, including degradation, fragmentation, and destruction. When a bat’s habitat is altered or lost, the bat

must move to a lower-quality habitat for roosting and foraging. An even more urgent threat for our region’s bats, however, is the deadly disease known as White-nose Syndrome. Pseudogymnascus destructans or Pd for short, is a fungal infection that causes the disease known as Whitenose Syndrome. A cold loving pathogen, Pd infects bats during hibernation when their bodies’ temperature decreases. After the infection invades a bat, its wing membranes start to erode, white cotton-like fungus grows on its muzzle and wing membrane, and dehydration occurs. The pathogen awakens the bats from hibernation, using up necessary energy and depleting fat

reserves. Thus far, over six million bats have died from the disease since it was detected in Albany, New York in 2006. Over the past fifteen years, the disease has been identified in thirty-seven states and seven Canadian provinces; the fungus Pd has also been detected without the clinical presentation of White-nose Syndrome’s symptoms in three additional states. Researchers have identified twelve bat species with White-nose Syndrome, three of which can be found in Louisiana; the fungus has been detected without symptoms in eight additional species, four of which can be found in Louisiana. While White-nose Syndrome has been confirmed in bat colo-

nies in surrounding states—including Arkansas and Texas—Louisiana has yet to have a documented case of either the fungus or the disease. And the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries would like to keep it that way. To ensure that the region’s population remains healthy, LDWF Wildlife Health and Disease Surveillance Program collects information on local bat populations, colony size, and locations, which allows LDWF to effectively monitor the potential spread of Pd. To determine if the fungus is in a colony, LDWF biologists take swabs from the wing membrane and muzzles of a number of bats for testing. All LDWF biologists involved in collecting these samples must be vaccinated against rabies prior to entering a bat colony. While Louisiana’s bat population seems to be doing well, Dr. Jim LaCour, LDWF State Wildlife Veterinarian and Wildlife Health and Disease Surveillance Monitoring Program Manager, said any significant reduction in the overall population would be detrimental to the state’s ecosystems. Bats play a critical role in our environment, aiding in maintaining genetic diversity in plantlife and in forest regeneration through pollen and seed dispersal. Mostly insectivores, bats also provide the service of controlling our insect populations, feeding on agricultural pests and mosquitos. In all, bats across the country eat hundreds to thousands of airborne insects an hour and save the U.S. Agricultural Industry over $3.7 billion annually. Dr. LaCour explained that bat migration in Louisiana is largely a mystery, even to scientists, because so many of the species are small and hard to outfit with transmitters, thus their movements go mostly undetected. They do know that in Louisiana, bats breed in the fall, prior to their winter hibernation. The LDWF bat monitoring program is conducted during the winter and summer seasons. To get up close and personal with the monitoring program, I met Brianna Upton—a technician with the LDWF Wildlife Health and Disease Surveillance Program—one evening in Denham Springs to participate in a sixteen-mile acoustic route that records bat calls if they are in the route area. Bats are nocturnal creatures, and their peak feeding time occurs in the evenings when they emerge. Bats use // O C T 2 1


A Southeastern Myotis Bat photographed roosting in a culvert. Photo courtesy of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

echolocation to locate prey by bouncing sound waves off of objects to determine their distance. These highpitched sounds are difficult, sometimes impossible, for the average human ear to detect. The LDWF truck is outfitted with a microphone on the roof, which captures sounds through an acoustic recorder inside the truck. A light on the recorder stays red until it picks up a bat call, and then flashes green. Upton drove less than twenty miles an hour to enable the recorder to pick up those high frequency calls. There were a few green flashes along the way. Later, she would put the recorder disk through a computer program to identify bat species. Some of the species that might present themselves on routes such as these include Big Brown, Evening, Free-tailed, and Hoary bats. Louisiana’s landscape does not naturally contain caves, so bats in this region tend to congregate in alternative cavities for roosting, including holes in abandoned buildings, attics, and transportation structures like bridges and road culverts. Occasionally bats will even use these structures as maternity colonies to raise their young. Because moth-

er bats are sensitive to colony disturbance, which could negatively impact the pups, LDWF keeps monitoring during maternity season to a minimum. Nikki Anderson, the LDWF Wildlife Disease Biologist in charge of the bat monitoring program, said LDWF would only allow me to visit a colony once the maternity season was over. Respecting LDWF’s sensitivity to these new moms and keeping my expectations low, I ventured out on a survey a few weeks after the monitoring season ended with LDWF bat monitoring program volunteer-turned-employee, Katherine Gividen. Our destinations—sites where Gividen thought bat colonies were likely to be roosting—were not always immediately visible to the naked eye, and we only found two of them after traipsing through the trees and down a hill, knocking out overgrown shrubs and vegetation. We discovered bat species in three of the four locations. Going into two large culverts in a dryish-creek bed, Gividen found a Tricolored bat. At the opposite end, we noticed a Big Brown bat as well. At the second stop, water surrounded the only entrance to the culvert, which sloped downhill at an angle.

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In other words: there was no light at the end of this tunnel. After wading into water, Gividen inspected the entrance and said that she could hear bats. Leaving my claustrophobia outside, I joined her, entering on hands and knees. Inside at the upper end, we found a large colony of bats. At the final stop, we crawled under a bridge and located several bats snuggled together, which was when one of the bats seemed to pull his lips back, revealing a sharp set of teeth. Seeing these furry, reclusive skeeter-eaters in their roosting spots provided an intriguing glimpse of the under-appreciated ecosystem crusaders. If you have a smidgen of interest in helping to ensure that the Louisiana population stays healthy and happy, LDWF could use your help. They will supply you with all equipment and training. h

For more information, contact Nikki Anderson at Louisiana Department of Wildlife Fisheries, ldwfwildlifehealth@ or (225) 765-5030.

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Top: Big Brown and Brazilian Free-Tailed bats share a roosting spot under a bridge. Photo courtesy of the writer. Bottom left: An adult female Big Brown Bat with two pups and two Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats roosting. Bottom right: Brandon Stafford, LDWF Private Lands Biologist, swabbing bats inside of a culvert for Pd. Photos courtesy of LDWF.

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The Opelousas Post Militia in the American Revolution



he event described below took place in the summer of 1779 in Louisiana, but you’ll rarely read about it in the history books. Even among history aficionados, few realize the crucial role one group of Louisianans played in America’s gaining independence from Britain. This is their story.

In the torrid summer heat of late August 1779, the men of the Opelousas Post Militia were called to a special muster by their post commander. The puzzled men made their way across the surrounding prairies by horseback, wagon, cart, and on foot. Most were in their twenties and thirties. (Males under fifteen and over forty-five were exempt from militia service.) Upon arriving, they were informed that war had been declared between Spain and England, and that the Spanish Governor-General, General Gálvez, was calling them to duty. They were ordered to make preparations to leave their families and farms for an indefinite period of time, and to join other militia units at San Gabriel (today’s St. Gabriel) on Bayou Manchac.

Spain had joined France in the war against England two months earlier, in June—one year after the French had been enticed to support the American rebellion in the English colonies along the Atlantic coast. The two countries were each still smarting from their territorial losses to England at the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which had formally ended the French and Indian/ Seven Years War (1756-63). France had lost her North American claims to Canada and to Louisiana, among other possessions. Spain had lost her Florida colonies at Mobile and Pensacola, though it did gain—thanks to the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau made between the French and Spanish in 1762—the entire western Mississippi River Valley from the Appalachians to the Rockies, along with New Orleans. By joining the new war with France, Spain saw a chance to recoup her losses. Gálvez had been aware for some time of rumors of war with England. He received official word from Havana in mid-August of 1779 that war had been declared, and he was ordered to at-

tack the English at Mobile and Pensacola. He knew, however, that he first needed to protect his provincial capital of New Orleans from the English forces just up the Mississippi at Fort Panmure, Natchez. He also anticipated that the attack would begin from the recently-constructed fort at Baton Rouge. As Gálvez was gathering his resources, a devastating hurricane swept out of the Gulf of Mexico and struck New Orleans, causing great destruction. Most of the homes in the city and surrounding countryside were damaged or destroyed, leaving the local citizenry naked to the elements. Cattle that had been rounded up to feed Gálvez’s troops on his planned march upriver were scattered and lost in the surrounding swamps, where they were bitten by poisonous snakes and attacked by alligators. Four of his gunboats were sunk at the river dock by the fury of the storm. After a several days spent helping his unfortunate townspeople recover as best he could, plus recovering his gunboats, Gálvez knew that the palisade defens-

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es of New Orleans had been rendered useless by the storm and that he could no longer delay his march. Gálvez also knew that Lt. Col. Dickson, the English commander at Natchez, would soon learn what desperate straits New Orleans was in, and assuming he, too, had learned of the war declaration, would move quickly. Dickson had a force of about five hundred men which included four hundred professional soldiers (including Hessians, the auxiliary soldiers from Germany that Britain hired), plus his civilian militia of about one hundred men. New Orleans would be ripe for British plucking. Gálvez had only a small cadre of roughly 175 professional soldiers, plus some three hundred “raw” recruits who had arrived earlier from Mexico and the Canary Islands. Gálvez desperately needed more manpower. Not having the time nor the means to send for troops from Havana, he had no choice but to call to duty his civilian militias scattered throughout the province at such places like the German and Acadian coasts, Pointe Coupée, Natchitoches, Gálveztown, Attakapas, and Opelousas, among others. Meanwhile back in Opelousas, the militiamen, having seen to their families and taken care of personal business, mustered on the appointed day. From there, they made their way to Church Landing (today’s Washington) on Bayou Courtableau, which flowed directly into the Atchafalaya Basin. We can assume (for lack of records) that the Opelousas militiamen embarked by various water crafts (skiffs, canoes, fishing boats, etc.) to cross the basin’s roughly thirty-five-mile expanse of swamps and slow-meandering bayous, as well as of the

Atchafalaya River itself. After what had to be a difficult and fatiguing crossing, they arrived at the Mississippi River, crossed it, and made their way to San Gabriel, the designated mustering place. There they rested with other arriving militias and awaited further orders. On September 6, Gálvez arrived. All along, Gálvez had indicated to his militia commanders that they were only going to be used as a defense force in the case that the English attacked. Now he told them the truth: they would be used to support his regular troops in an attack on the recently-constructed Fort New Richmond at Baton Rouge, intending to take it before Dickson arrived. To do that, some of the units—including the Opelousas Militia—first had to take Fort Bute (also known as Fort Manchac), a smaller fort which was just across Bayou Manchac from San Gabriel. Taking the commander by surprise, the militiamen won Fort Bute in a short fight on September 7. Only one man, an English soldier, was killed. Five English soldiers, however, escaped to bring news of the assault to the fort commander at Baton Rouge. Dickson had just arrived at Baton Rouge. Learning of the situation and not knowing the strength of Galvez’s forces, he decided he would defend Fort New Richmond and send for help from Pensacola. Gálvez, having lost the advantage of surprise, saw he could not take the fort by direct attack without suffering great losses, and decided instead to lay siege to it. By a clever ploy, and under cover of darkness, he managed to place the cannon he’d brought by gunboats near enough to the fort to fire into it at point

blank range. After a few hours of this cannonading, Dickson—learning that relief troops from Pensacola could not arrive in time to save him—surrendered on September 21. After Dickson’s surrender, all Louisiana militiamen were given combat pay and released with the heartfelt thanks of General Gálvez. The Acadians of the Opelousas Post Militia, no doubt very proud of what they had helped to achieve, had the satisfaction of taking part in wreaking their vengeance upon the hated English, whose government had deported them from their beloved Acadie twenty-four years earlier. h The story of the men of the Opelousas Militia is told in François’ historical novel The March, which will be available during the Commemoration of the Opelousas Post Militia on October 16 at Le Vieux Village Park in Opelousas. Everyone is invited to attend this Commemoration and to assist, by their presence, in this signature event. John François lives in Lafayette and is the author of six historical novels. In researching his genealogy, he found one of his ancestors, François Pitre, listed on one of the rosters of the Opelousas Post Militia.

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Treasures in the Attic



t all started when someone from Los Angeles started asking us about Mississippi,” said Lesley Silver, the fifty-year owner of the sechond oldest independent art gallery in the Magnolia State (the oldest is Brown’s Framing in Jackson). “People have ideas about the state. But there are so many layers to Mississippi.” It was 1971. Silver and her then-husband were in Los Angeles for his business, a jewelry store and bridal gift shop at 1406 Washington Street in the heart of downtown Vicksburg. Friends were watching their children back home so Silver visited city galleries looking for a gift to bring back as thanks. Cynthia Comsky, owner of Comsky Gallery, was especially intrigued with Mississippi, and invited the Silvers to dinner. That evening, speaking of West Coast traditions, she explained that when people get married in California, guests often gift art rather than more traditional items like sterling silver or antique china. Comsky invited the Silvers to bring some of her gallery’s artwork back to Mississippi to sell in the gift shop. 58

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By Cheré Coen A selection of artwork, including pieces by Marvin Spohn and Gary Chafee, arrived at the Silvers’ home weeks later while they were hosting their daughter’s fifth birthday party, where other parents fawned over it and purchased pieces for their homes. “Many of those parents didn’t know what an original print was,” explained Silver, whose mother taught art at the Pratt Institute in New York. “I was always surrounded by art. I grew up breathing art, and it has always been really important to me.” Silver saw an opportunity to share original artwork with the community and started acquiring more pieces to sell. When the she ran out of room, Silver cleared the attic above her husband’s store. In October 1971, the Attic Gallery was born.

Art That Resonates

Over the last fifty years, Silver has remained committed to selling only original artwork in her gallery, choosing pieces not because of an impressive artist bio or following—though many of her artists boast

either or both—but because she connects to the work on a personal level. In the beginning, most of her gallery’s art came from professional artists, including Dale Rayburn, a Carriere, Mississippi native, Ole Miss graduate, and professor of art at several universities, including Ole Miss and LSU. Silver noticed his etching in a gallery window of Underground Atlanta in 1972 and wrote him about selling his art in the Attic. “The rest is history,” Rayburn said. He’s been there ever since. Besides The Attic, Rayburn’s art can be found in the permanent collections of the High Museum in Atlanta, the Mississippi Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Museum of Art, to name only a few. His wife, abstract artist Mamie Joe, is equally accomplished, with work featured in many of the same institutions and more. But, he credits Silver for much of their sales over the years. “My wife and I are pretty much represented all over,” Rayburn said. “Lesley has consistently outperformed all as far as sales. She has an uncanny ability to connect with collectors and has placed our work with collectors

all over the country.” are covered with jewelry, pottery, textiles, Around the mid-eighties, Silver woodworking, and much more. It’s alturned more toward self-taught artwork, most overwhelming, a visual feast of color bringing in artists like Mississippi naand creativity. tives Earl Wayne Simmons and Kinnith The Attic should always have stairs, Humphrey, both who went on to achieve Silver said, because she sees stairs as a significant acclaim. “I think [self-taught metaphor for enlightenment. “If my cusartists] opened the door to many artists tomers go up stairs, the problems lift off who believed that it comes from inside their shoulders.” you,” said Silver. “They didn’t make art because they wanted to sell it, but beA Golden Anniversary cause they had to.” The Attic Gallery celebrates its fiftieth Lesley Silver, pictured at center, started the Attic Gallery out of earnest love for high quality original During that time, folk artists were seeyear in business with a series of special artwork. Fifty years later, the business has blossomed. ing a surge in attention across the region, events, culminating on the first weekand customers came into the gallery frequently search- dark store to reach her gallery. Then, the owner of the end in October. On Saturday October 2, the gallery ing for these unique Southern art pieces. Today, the building at 1101 Washington asked her if she was inter- will host an art walking tour of downtown Vicksgallery features close to two hundred artists, almost all ested in buying. She agreed. burg, which will include private homes and businesses from the South and many self-taught. On the summer solstice of 1997, Silver enlisted her that include collections acquired from The Attic. That Today, Silver still looks for original artwork that reso- customers and artists to help move the gallery items to evening, Silver herself will host a special show featurnates with her. Artists do not need a biography, website, her new space, once again on an upstairs floor. They ing art from her stable of artists, including Rayburn, or social media platforms to be considered for placement created an art parade down Washington Street. “Every- in her apartment on the third floor. “We want to give in the gallery, though there comes a point at which she body who came picked up something from the gallery back to the community,” she explained. “We’ve had must be selective. One visit to the Attic Gallery—with and brought it here,” she said. the privilege of being on Washington Street for fifevery inch of wall space, tabletops, and counters filled The Attic Gallery now sits above her husband, Daniel ty years. The gallery has brought so many great artists, with art—and one will understand why. Boone’s coffee shop, the Highway 61 Coffeehouse. The people who look through a different prism than the rest two of them happily live in an apartment on the build- of us.” h Still a Flight Up ing’s third floor. Next door is Lorelei Books, which sells In 1997, Silver had to say goodbye to her beloved Wash- and promotes local authors. “What a great block—a Information and work from the show can ington Street attic space. “1406 was so special,” she rem- coffee shop, a bookstore. Everything you need,” Silver be seen at inisced. “People would come in and just sit around the said. A native of New Orleans now living table.” To reach the gallery, customers climb the staircase in Georgia, Cheré Coen writes about After divorcing her husband, and his downstairs store from street level, emerging into a space that still feels like Southern food, culture and travel. closing, Silver found that her attic space was no longer so an attic. Paintings, etchings, and mixed media hang on conducive to customers, who had to traverse an empty, the walls and rest on the floor. Tables and countertops


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t the cusp of turning thirty, Lafayette artist Cayla Zeek only wants peace. Since graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2015 in visual arts, teaching at Ascension Episcopal School (AES), hustling her wares on Frenchman and Magazine streets on the weekends, and working as a full-time artist since 2017, the visual multidisciplinary artist has become easier with stillness. Still she remains resourceful, frugal—reflective, she said. The pandemic has increased the number of nights Zeek spends alone, painting or drawing, burning incense or wafting Palo Santo, reading Tarot cards or practicing yoga. Playing with light. Playing with darkness. “I just got into tarot,” she said. “It’s been really helpful. I’m a Libra with a Leo rising and Scorpio moon— that’s the one tangled up with sex, death, taboos, and intensity. I’m emotionally processing all the time.” Lafayette residents will likely recognize Zeek’s work, often found in the downtown district. Her punny cards bedecked with bees, magnolias, and Allan Toussaint lyrics drenched in jewel tones can be found at Beausoleil Books, the Hilliard Art Museum, and Adorn. Her portfolio—spanning over a decade—expands to include music videos for local bands Speech Fuzz and Scenic World, art direction for photoshoots, an extensive collection of self-portraits, and massive paintings that explore death, grief, sex, and rebirth through the female or femme form. “I’m a lot more at peace, with a lot less self-doubt, and I’m a lot more energy-focused,” Zeek said of her current approach to her art. This serenity is an extension of Zeek’s trust in the cosmic. In her spiritual arsenal, she has her tarot deck, astrological knowledge, Greek and Roman mythology—the ancient ways in which people understood the world. She says they are “like maps.” But she had to start somewhere. “I was first a writer,” she said “When I


was really little, I loved to just copy letters out of books and take books and re-copy them into a composition with a pencil. I loved writing, and I loved penmanship. I didn’t know full words yet, but I was still learning.” Over time, Zeek grew in her dexterity and creativity. An active tom-

son. A multi-disciplinary artist herself, Johnson was a graphic designer, ceramicist, multi-instrumentalist, and singer. She sewed her own clothes to fit her sixfoot frame; she co-owned Parish Ink and owned the River Ranch boutique Red Arrow, where Zeek worked for two years as a shop girl.

Courtesy of the artist.

boy, she skinned her knees and crafted cardboard houses and submarines from found materials. She credits her resourcefulness to her mother, Marisa Zeek, and says her father, EZBIS owner Ed Zeek, gave her the foundation for business sense at the kitchen table. Zeek found more guidance in another mentor, the late Jillian John-

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“That job propelled me into what I’m able to do today, even business-wise and art-wise,” she said. “It’s always there, at least for me. Jillian, to me, felt like the perfect bridge between making things that are marketable and commercial for the community while being an artist in her own right. She had projects and things she wanted to create for

herself. She definitely showed me you can be all of those things but also be more practical and business-minded. It definitely gave me an entrepreneurial edge.” Zeek was in school for painting at ULL already, but Johnson showed her how to create a business model, and how to create work that supports that business model. Her post-graduation stint teaching lasted only two years because her creative work quickly snowballed, and she had to make a choice. She hasn’t looked back since. “I think my biggest thing that I want is peace,” she said. “Inner peace. To me, that’s become the challenge. I’ve always worked, always strived for goals or recognition or feeling like I have to do something, and I’m coming to this point in life where I think the thing I want most in life is peace. I want to have peace with life and living and everything that comes with it and being myself.” Today, the spectrum of Zeek’s work grows broader by the day. But she’s melding it all together. To be quick and clever and commercial and dark and viscerally rendered is her narrative, and she’s telling her life story in real time. “My work is becoming this fusion of myself,” Zeek said. “I feel like I used to divide myself into marketable, sweet, cute things, and then I’m doing this really dark shadow-self work. And now trying to bring those together. I feel like it’s making my work more honest, truthful, and well-rounded. It has darkness and still has the light. It’s about bridging gaps within yourself. I think my work is showing that to me.” h

Find Zeek’s work available for sale at Studio Mattea on, and follow her journey on social via @matteastudio on Instagram and Facebook.

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Articles inside

Perspectives: The Artist"Mattea"

page 62

The Attic Gallery

pages 58-59

The Opelousas Post Militia in the American Revolution

pages 56-57

Our Local Bats

pages 53-55

Unearthing Prehistory, One Shard at a Time

pages 50-52

Shreveport’s Schwarzwaldtårta

pages 46-49

Stories from the Hidden Cemetery

pages 42-45

The Pascagoula Abduction

pages 36-41

The Myth of Evangeline

pages 32-35

The Great Delta Tours

page 9


page 8

Reflections: Keeping the Story in History

page 6

On the Cover: George Rodrigue's "Virtual Reality"

page 4
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