Everything Good Is In The Gumbo
Louisiana explored in author visit —Page 12
Celebrating Italian heritage —Page 18
Swamp Life Expo Keeping the heritage alive —Page 22
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PUBLISHER K Matt Guthrie BUSINESS MANAGER K Stephanie Schexnaydre EDITOR K Greg Fischer GRAPHICS K Liz Arceneaux • Shaun Hebert • Brittney Naquin MULTIMEDIA SALES DIRECTOR K Crystal Barrett MULTIMEDIA SALES EXECUTIVES K Jason Wall • Martine Duhe • John Mouton Published by GANNETT Ascension Gumbo Magazine
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K–On the Cover:
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K–Table of Contents: 5—Editor's Note 8—Sullivan's Steakhouse 10—Donaldsonville Veterans 12—History of Canary Islanders 14—Sam Mistretta Store 18—Festa Italiana 20—Voodoo Fest 2019 22—Swamp Life Expo 24—Shout Out 2019 26—All is Bright 28—Steve Barlow 30—Gonazles Christmas Parade 31—Food and Drink JANUARY - MARCH 2020
Deep South Bayou Duals ............... December 27, 2019 2020 New Years Eve Party with Ryan Foret & Foret Tradition .. December 31, 2019 Home & Remodeling Show with Ralph's Markets Food Fest ......... January 25, 2020 O'Reilly's Cajun Monster Truck Nationals................................ February 22, 2020 Jamey Johnson & Colt Ford Concert ............. 9:00am February 29, 2020 South LA Family Festival ........................ March 5, 2020
For more visit TourAscension.com
K–From the Editor: Dear Ascension, It's funny writing this in the past, so to speak. By the time it's in anyone's hands Christmas will be over with and maybe even New Years. However, if I'm going to stay in the moment . . . whew! Christmas almost has me licked. I mean, shopping for everyone and tight schedules. I realized a couple years ago that the Christmas Holidays aren't my type of holiday. I'm usually relieved when it's all said and done. Exhausted. That said, it's still perhaps a yearly rite of passage. We all are obligated to be here and there and everywhere, to see friends and family that we may only see a handful of times each year. I hope you're looking forward to it. For me, my family lives all over the place. If I had one of those big, parish families that all lived on the same old street it may be easier. I wonder what that would be like . . .
I used to muse that if I ever won the lottery I would buy a whole street and have my folks all come live in new houses that I would build for them. But then I met a couple people who actually live that way, and it took the luster off the idea a little. It's not that I didn't still admire the way they lived. But I guess I realize "the grass always looks greener on the other side" will always be an accurate sentiment. Part of our holiday stress, at least mine is financial. But it is true that money does not make me happy. I know that for a fact. I'm usually happier when my bills are paid without a whole lot left over. It's weird. We don't need to spoil our kids, by the way. They don't become better people with a bunch of toys. And if you're making up for not being there in toys, then good luck! Ah! I digress. I truly hope you all had a magical Christmas filled with love and laughter with the warmth of good friends. I hope that Christmas has renewed hope within your heart for whatever it is you want to achieve. There is much hope out there. I pray that you find it. So, 2020? I haven't thought about
it much. Still haven't even hung my Christmas lights. Stop pulling me around so quickly, would ya! No, I'm only kidding. I'm very pleased with another decade in the books. Very grateful to have lived through the 2010s on this crazy planet with you crazy Black Friday shoppers! I pray that we hold on to a few more musical legends in 2020. At least a little longer. We'll always remember you, Dr. John and Art Neville. What I hope for even more is that Ascension Parish encourages our youth to nurture their musical skills, and we produce new generations of Louisiana musical legends. I'm doing my part. When I leave the Weekly Citizen office today I'm headed straight home to pick up my guitar for a little while. Been trying to teach myself "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" for about a week and a half. Fifteen chords in that little song! See you next year. Best, Greg Fischer, Editor
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Sullivan's Steakhouse has ties to Ascension Parish
A photo of a beautiful table in a private area at Sullivan's Steakhouse in Baton Rouge, La. —PHOTOS BY GREG FISCHER
GREG FISCHER @AscensionEditor
Barbecue season is winding doSullivan's Steakhouse in Baton Rouge recently hosted a decadent dinner for media personnel, and it was discovered that the restaurant has deep ties to Ascension Parish. It was refreshing to hear that General Manager and former Head Chef Leighton Carbo is a graduate of East Ascension High School. "I was the chef here for 12 years," Carbo said. "About a year-and-a-half ago I took on front of the house." He was partially interrupted by a talented bartender who delivered a special nonJANUARY - MARCH 2020
alcoholic concoction that was requested. "My little concoction," he said. "Hibiscus, ginger beer, pineapple, lemon, lime, and a little coriander." It was perfect. Back to Carbo, turns out that his grandfather, Donnie Mire was the third ever champion of the Jambalaya Festival in Gonzales, back in 1970. Mire won it again in 1979. "He's cooked on the White House lawn twice," Carbo said. "National Geographic did a story on him years ago." Moreover, Sullivan's Sales and Event Planner Kellie Tate shared that she was also excited to host the Weekly Citizen at the media dinner. She is a proud resident of Prairieville, Louisiana.
"I do all the private dining sales here at Sullivan's," she said. "I live out in Prairieville. Yay, Ascension Parish!" While there are a handful of fancy options for hosting parties within Ascension Parish, Sullivan's is just a stone throw away in Baton Rouge, at 5252 Corporate Boulevard. Just off the College Drive exit. Tate wanted to share that Sullivan's is available for hosting work parties, holiday parties, birthdays, and corporate meetings. A neat, fraternal feature of Sullivan's is the private wine locker. The wine selection is one of the most extensive you'll see anywhere. Vice President of Marketing Holly Wagstaff-Bellomo shared much about Sullivan's fine hospitality with the
Yum! Bananas Foster Bread Pudding and Key Lime Pie for dessert.
local media. Carbo said that Jason Lowell, the current executive chef, was his right hand man for years. And that he could've been executive chef anywhere in the company. "When I moved up here, he took over back there so it's kind of seamless," he said. There are 13 locations from Alaska to North Carolina. The menu featured some memorable items. The bonein ribeye was sinful. The crab
cake appetizer was wellbalanced with a slaw. The salads were great. The lobster bisque was great. The side dish I recommend was the spaghetti squash, and the best dessert had to be the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. It's also a very fine, white table cloth, romantic atmosphere. Bring a healthy appetite. Sullivan's feeds people. – C–
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Veterans Day program celebrated in Donaldsonville
Veterans stand at attention and salute during the Veterans Day program. —PHOTOS BY MICHAEL TORTORICH
MICHAEL TORTORICH Several local veterans were honored at a morning service on Veterans Day. The Monday program at Ascension of Our Lord Church honored veterans of all military forces. Veterans in attendance entered in a procession as the choir led the singing of "America the Beautiful." Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre and Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan Sr., and members of their respective organizations participated in the program. Ascension of Our Lord Church's Fr. Matthew Dupre asked all veterans to stand, prompting applause from those in attendance. "If you're a family member of a veteran, please stand," Dupre said. "We have to love and support them as well. Let's give them a round of applause." Dupre shared a story about his dad, who was an Army veteran who served in North JANUARY - MARCH 2020
Africa and Italy. Though he didn't like to talk about war, he did once surprise Dupre when he told of the time he met the Pope. "When were you going to tell me that story?" Dupre exclaimed with a smile. Dupre went on to speak of the importance of service. "What can I do to make the world a better place?" he asked. "How can I be a person of service?" He said there are many ways to give back to one's community, country, and the world. Service can come in the form of a calling to be a teacher, or a public servant like a firefighter, police officer, or public official. "It's not just our young people, but even us older people," he said. It may seem small and insignificant, but service can be much larger than any one person, Dupre continued. Never underestimate the good that can be done, he added. "Not just today, but every day, we bless
you always," Dupre said to the veterans. Lawrence Landry, a veteran who played Taps, pointed out the sacrifices of active members of the military. "365 days a year, 24 hours a day - they serve," he said. "Remember those who are active all year long to preserve the freedom we have today." Ascension Catholic students performed a patriotic poem and song to conclude the service. Veterans were treated to breakfast following the program. – C–
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History of Canary Islanders in Louisiana explored in author visit
Author Stephen V. Estopinal demonstrates methods of warfare from the Louisiana Spanish Colonial era of the 1770s during a visit to the Ascension Parish Library's Donaldsonville branch Thursday evening —PHOTO BY MICHAEL TORTORICH MICHAEL TORTORICH Author Stephen V. Estopinal arrived to his speaking engagement dressed the part. Donning a sergeant's uniform from the 1770s and holding a musket, he regaled attendees with the history of the Canary Islanders in Louisiana. Held at the Ascension Parish Library's Donaldsonville branch Thursday night, the author visit coincided with National Hispanic Heritage Month. Canary Islanders, known as Isleños for the Spanish word for islanders, settled in communities around modern southeastern Louisiana in the 1770s and 1780s. Their descendants are a living representation JANUARY - MARCH 2020
of the former Spanish Colonial era, which was prior to Louisiana becoming a state on April 30, 1812. Estopinal himself is a descendant of the Canary Islander settlers. His family originally hails from St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, but he now lives in the Gonzales area of Ascension Parish, after becoming displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Notably, the City of Gonzales is named after a descendant of Canary Islanders. Joseph "Tee Joe" Gonzales served as the first mayor of modern Gonzales, which was a village during his tenure from 1922 to 1936. An LSU graduate, Army veteran, land surveyor and civil engineer, Estopinal
began writing in 1986. His engineering textbook is required reading for a course at LSU. He has penned several historically-based fiction novels, set in Louisiana during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Estopinal said the first question he typically hears is: "Where are the the Canary Islands?" The islands don't exactly jump out at anyone gazing at a world map. The Canary Islands are an archipelago and the southernmost community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean, about 60 miles west of Morocco. Why did the Isleños immigrate to colonial Spanish Louisiana? Spain needed recruits for the army. Struggling through
a subsistence lifestyle on the islands, many sailed across the ocean to start a new life. Bernardo de Gálvez was the colonial governor and military leader at the time, and volunteers were sought. The scope of Gálvez' mark on history is vast, of course. Many places around the area bear his name, and his influence is found in many aspects of the state's history. Gálvez' recruits from the Canary Islands had to be between 17 and 36 years old, meet a height requirement, and not be engaged in certain trades, such as butcher. Estopinal opined that such jobs were of utmost importance to the islanders at the time. Four distinct Canary Islander communities arose in the Louisiana colony. Two were in the area of modern Ascension Parish: Gálvez Town, which was a planned settlement on the east side of the parish, and Valenzuela, which was a settlement along Bayou Lafourche, just south of Donaldsonville. The other communities were: La Concepción, which was settled in St. Bernard Parish, and Barataria, in Jefferson Parish. Ultimately, Gálvez Town declined due to a myriad of natural disasters, diseases, and scarce resources. According to a state historical marker at the site, the town at the junction of the Amite River and Bayou Manchac was abandoned by 1810. Some remaining inhabitants moved to Spanish Town, a historic district that remains in modern-day Baton Rouge. Estopinal said the four communities were chosen due to the strategic water routes. Each location had access to Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and the Mississippi River. "Gálvez was a genius at maneuver strategies," Estopinal said. In 1779, Spanish forces commanded by Gálvez seized West Florida, an area spanning from the east bank of the Mississippi River through modern Louisiana parishes east
of Baton Rouge, and onward to today's Mobile, Ala. area. Estopinal, dressed in a sergeants uniform from the period, demonstrated the use of weaponry found on the battle fields. "War is not a pretty business," he said. "Especially when it's at close range, man to man, and face to face." The Canary Islanders of Louisiana are baked into the proverbial cake of the state's ancestry and wider culture. Their historical mark has been some 235 years in the making. "There's a whole lot of making friends in 235 years," Estopinal said. "You may just have a Canary Islander in your family tree." The Canary Islanders Heritage Society of Louisiana is a cultural, historical, and genealogical society dedicated to the promotion of the history and heritage of Canary Islanders. Further information on the group can be obtained at www.canaryislanders.org. According to the society, the first seven ships departed the islands bound for Louisiana on July 10, 1778. Progenitors of many families whose descendants remain in the area were aboard. Names included: Aguilard, Albarado, Alberes, Acosta, Alleman, Carbo, Cavalier, Diez, Domingue, Falcon, Gomez, Gonzales, Hernandez, Hidalgo, Medine, Morales, Nunez, Rivere, Perera, Paisance, Ruiz, Sanchez, Serpas, Solar, Suarez, Torres, and Truxillo. Estopinal suggested four books for further exploration on the topic: History of the Discovery and Conquest of Canary Islanders by Juan de Abreu Galindo; Guanches Survivors and Their Descendants by Jose Luis Concepcion; Guanches, Legend and Reality by J.P. Comacho; and Spain, Forgotten Ally of the American Revolution by Buchanan Parker Thomson.
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State program gives local landmark
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The Mistretta Store on Railroad Avenue in Donaldsonville was added to the list of Louisiana's Most Endangered Places, as recognized by the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation. The building, constructed in the mid-19th century, most recently served as a grocery story. —STAFF PHOTO BY GREG FISCHER JOHN DUPONT A Donaldsonville landmark dating back to the mid-1800s could receive a new lease on life through a state-run preservation program. City official and representatives from the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation gathered Nov. 15 at the site of the old Sam Mistretta Store, where they announced the addition of the building to its list of landmarks targeted for preservation. The state program highlights endangered structures and advocates their preservation and protection. JANUARY - MARCH 2020
The list of buildings is generated from nominations made by the public and aims to attract creative approaches and resources to see the sites saved and rehabilitated, according to Brian Davis, executive director for Louisiana Trust. "Historic buildings and sites are the fingerprints of our communities, and it takes creative measures to preserve and protect them for future generations," he said. World renown chef and Doaldsonville native John Folse and his wife, Laurie Boucherau Folse, later bought the dilapidated building in
1999 and donated it to the Downtown Development District in 2014. Officials hope to use the building as a new Donaldsonville General Store and Museum. The building that occupied the Sam Mistretta Store on Railroad Avenue dates to the 1850s – some sites say 1860s – when it served as an infirmary during the Civil War. It was one of the last seven buildings standing after Admiral David T. Farragut's assault on Donaldsonville in that war. It later operated as a saloon and a bordello, but it later became a far more familyoriented establishment. Mistretta began his family grocery business in 1944. He used the first floor as a grocery store and the upper level as a home – a common setup among local grocers in the first half of the 20th century. The store closed in the early to mid 1970s. The store operated in an era when Donaldsonville was a major hub of commerce along the west bank of the Mississippi River. It was a time when agriculture – particularly the sugar industry – reigned supreme and local entrepreneurs were in strong abundance. "In those days, they had seven car dealerships in Donaldsonville alone," said Carl Capone, chairman of the Donaldsonville Area Foundation. The Mistretta Store had been a fixture of a downtown area that resembled classic "Main Street America" for decades. It was adjacent to a Ben Franklin 5&10 store, the Grand Theater (a movie house that closed in the 1980s), a Sears catalog store, Lehmann Department Store, and a fullservice Texaco station. "This entire project is about preserving what we had in the days of Main Street America in Louisiana," said Lee Melancon, who heads the Donaldsonville Main Street Program. For Capone and Mayor Leroy Sullivan, the building holds a hearth of memories. "I still remember all the people walking to this store to get their groceries," Sullivan said. "Remember, this was
An artist’s rendition shows plans for the Mistretta Store once it is converted into a downtown museum.
a day when very few people had two cars – and some did not have one car – so they'd either walk here or they'd have a boy on a bicycle deliver it to them and put it on a charge account." Capone looked toward panel-board walls of the empty building, which brought him memories of his childhood. It was a time when kids could ride their bike or walk to a corner store without any worry of their safety. "We'd go in there, buy ourselves a candy and bottle of soda pop and just sit at the corner as cars drove by," Capone said. "Those were such simpler times." The business had a display of its fresh produce in the storefront window. A few small aisles had the canned goods and other items, while a white porcelain cooler stored the fresh meats. A long wooden counter halfway through the building served as the checkout area. A stairwell in the back area led to the residence for Mistretta and his family. The building has sat dark
and desolate since the store ceased operation. The museum would include exhibits already housed in the building. Those exhibits focus on the preservation of Italian culture and society in Donaldsonville, "Sons of Southern Sugar," and the impact of the Jewish community in Donaldsonville. It will also feature two "Forever" exhibits – one on Folse, the other on Melancon. It will take at least $120,000 to refurbish the facility before
the city can put it into use again, Melancon said. The work will include new electrical wiring, plumbing and an HVAC system. No time frame is set for completion of the work. "We have to have the money first to make it happen," Melancon said. "This will be a grass-roots effort." – C–
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celebrates Italian heritage in Donaldsonville
Charles Geno Marsala, President of the American Italian Federation of the Southeast and producer of AWE.News, visits the Festa Italiana Saturday afternoon at the Frank Sotile Pavilion in Donaldsonville. —PHOTOS BY MICHAEL TORTORICH
MICHAEL TORTORICH Common current Donaldsonville surnames like Sotile, Falsetta, and Pizzolato serve as an ingrained aspect of the area's Italian influence. The first Donaldsonville Festa Italiana, held Saturday at the Frank Sotile Pavilion, reveled in the cultural impact Italian immigrants and their descendants have made over many decades in the area. The festival included live music, a spaghetti cooking competition, vendor booths, and a historical display focusing on the Italian heritage of local families. Chuck Montero served as disc jockey in JANUARY - MARCH 2020
the earlier portion of the event, and King PaKaYea' Band performed later in the evening. The City of Donaldsonville's Community and Economic Development Director Lee Melancon organized the festival. Sponsors included city government, Ascension Tourism, CF Industries, Republic Services, Elray Kocke Services, Cliff Ourso State Farm, Sheriff Bobby Webre, and Representative Ken Brass. Charles Geno Marsala, President of the American Italian Federation of the Southeast and producer of AWE.News, traveled from New Orleans to support the event.
"I was recently elected president of the federation," Marsala said. "We have a lot of chapters around the state of Louisiana and New Orleans. We want to know what they're doing, and use social media to let people know we have great events like this going on." Marsala added that events like Donaldsonville's festival can draw attendees from throughout the area, and tourists who are looking for travel opportunities. "If somemone is in a place like Morganza, maybe they would want to come to an event like this. What these guys are doing is great. Why not let people in places like
Cooking competition winners pose with Mayor Leroy Sullivan and Ascension Tourism's Tracy Browning
Darrow and Gonzales know? My job is to help promote the Italian culture and the events that go on." Existing local groups with successful traditions, like the St. Joseph Altar Society, can assist in promoting such events. "Today I came to make some friends," Marsala continued. "I wanted to let them know that we have this federation to help share things we're all doing together." Marsala, among others, raved about the food available at the festival. "They've got fabulous spaghetti," he said. "On our web site, we'll let everyone know how awesome the food was. We interviewed a couple of the chefs who made it. Then we'll send the word out around the state that we had a great event. That way, if you are in Baton Rouge, or a little south, more regional, you'll get exposure. We can use social media like Facebook and boost. We can offer at the state level to all of these clubs. The clubs here, the other side of the river, and more." Marsala told of a recent experience where a dinner was held in Bay St. Louis, Miss. "They had four people from Virginia show up. They saw it on Facebook. They were in the area and wanted to see it." Historically, many Italians immigrated to
Louisiana through New Orleans, which was on the shipping route in the 19th century. "Sicilians, mainly, have been in the area since the 1890s. So there are a lot of people here who are descendants of them," Marsala said. Between 1850 and 1870, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated more Italians moved to New Orleans than any other American city. By 1910, after a large migration from Sicily, the population of the French Quarter was 80 percent Italian, according to the book "Italians in New Orleans" by Joseph Maselli. Like many early ethnic groups, Italians experienced well-documented discrimination and were excluded from many organizations, as were Jewish and African American citizens. The Dec. 27, 1879 issue of the Chief published an article by "Broadbrim" implying Italian immigrants were unclean, and hoping they return to their home country. A particularly gruesome point in the history of Italians in New Orleans came in 1891 when 11 innocent Sicilians immigrants were lynched by a mob at the city jail. According to a History.com article, it was the largest lynching in United States history.
The mob became hostile following the murder of popular police chief David Hennessy. None of the vigilantes were charged in the lynching. Some newspapers and politicians at the time effectively applauded the mob murders. Theodore Roosevelt, who was on the U.S. Civil Service Commission at the time, called the lynching "rather a good thing." Nearly 5,000 lynchings were recorded in the country from 1882 to 1968. Most of the victims were African-American men. Sicilians, at the time, were viewed as culturally backward and suspect due to their dark skin, according to historian Manfred Berg. They were suspected to have Mafia connections, and were closely watched by police, Berg wrote. Some 128 years later, current New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell offered a proclamation of apology concerning the killings. She did so at the American Italian Culture Center on April 12 of this year. "I want to say thank you to our Italian American community, who has made New Orleans what she is today – it's a fact," Cantrell was quoted as saying at the time. – C– JANUARY - MARCH 2020
Brutus highlights heavier tones at
2019 Voodoo Fest GREG FISCHER @AscensionEditor Music is always changing. Cool is so misunderstood. But one of the bands featured in the 2019 Voodoo Fest lineup that I enjoyed and had the pleasure to talk to was a Belgium-based rock band known as Brutus. What attracted me to Brutus was not only the ambient, trance metal sound that reminded me at once of Icelandic band Sigur Rós and New York band Asobi Seksu, but lead singer Stefanie Mannaerts is also the drummer. The only other band I know of that sings and drums at the same time is New Orleansbased (Jenny Says rockin') Cowboy Mouth. Brutus is NOT Cowboy Mouth. In a good way. Brutus played on the South Course stage on Saturday, October 26. It was a midafternoon performance. The weather was so nice, but the ground was wet due to a tropical system that showed up on Friday. I found out later that Brutus had never played in New Orleans before that performance. Moreover, it was actually their first time on a stage in America. "First time [playing] in the states," bassist Peter Mulders said. "First show of the tour," Mannaerts said. They were flying to Chicago to play their next show. It was going to be cold in Chicago. "Yeah, we brought summer and winter clothes," Mannaerts said. Mannaerts, Mulders, and guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden all met in Belgium. They are Brutus. "We grew up in the same area," Vanhoegaerden said. "We've known each other from previous bands when we were really young. But we've known each other for a long time." "Yeah, 15 years. Stijn and I," Mannaerts said. "And Peter and I ten years, so." The music that Brutus plays has been labeled post-hardcore. But for now they prefer to be known as simply a rock band. "I think it's easier for people to label something," Mannaerts said. "A rock band is the easiest thing to say." Vanhoegaerden concurred. They also agree on their influences. "Metal is definitely in there," Mulders added. "Others are punk rock, or hardcore, or just rock music. It's all in there. Postmetal or post-rock, all the labels are in there. "That's what people tell us. For us JANUARY - MARCH 2020
we try to make music we like, and we don't think about the genres . . . We like to put [hip-hop] on in the van." "We have all different kind of tastes," Mannaerts said. "That's what makes it interesting," Vanhoegaerden said. "We like the same stuff, but also a lot of stuff he's really into, or I'm really into, or she's really into. And that's what makes it fun to write because there's always somebody like, 'ah, let's try this.'" One genre they are not too fond of (playing at least) is jam music. Mannaerts laughed at the question. "We like to play long songs, but I don't like to jam," she said. "Not really," chimed Vanhoegaerden. "But it's my problem," Mannaerts said. "We never jam," Mulders added. "After 10 minutes I'm like like, 'Yeah, but what's the purpose?'" Mannaerts said. "We can play this for two hours, but what are we going to do? I can't jam, but it's my fault." "It's no problem," Mulders said. "We got used to it." Brutus as a jam band might look like Texas-based Explosions in the Sky. Just saying. We only need one of them, too! The Belgian trio continued their United States tour into November with dates in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Texas, and Chicago. They played Mexico City. They were very grateful that I said I loved the show. They are still on tour. According to bandsintown.com, this week they will be in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and Poland. Looks like the tour ends home in Bruxelles (Brussels), Belgium on December 14 in time for the holidays. The same website shows that Brutus won't be back to the U.S.A. until May 1, when they have a date set for Central Park in Atlanta, Ga. Mulders said that it is a dream come true to be on stage. "Not a big stage, but writing your own music and then touring the world with it, yeah," he said. "That's something that only happens once in a lifetime and not for everybody. There's so many good bands and good people and good musicians that just can't do it, and we have the luck to do it so we're really, really happy we can do it." Mannaerts and Vanhoegaerden nodded. Imagine five songs being played at a youth center in Belgium turning into a world tour, and you can imagine Brutus. Further, the Voodoo Music and Arts Experience, taking place annually over
Stefanie Mannaerts Halloween weekend in spooky, groovy New Orleans has evolved with the times. Please do not take this timeline literally, but the festival from my teenage recollection began in the late 90's. It sort of took the reigns as the city's premier alternative music festival after previous festivals like ZephyrFest and EndFest came and went. While ZephyrFest was held during the summer (in the somewhat unrealistic New Orleans heat), Endfest was held around October. Glancing upon old lineups posted on setlist.fm, I see that ZephyrFest featured mostly rock bands. The 1996 lineup included Dash Rip Rock, Dishwalla, Everclear, and Seven Mary Three to name a few. You'll have to excuse me. I get reminiscent about the old sounds. I also noticed that one year New Orleans hosted the Mojo Music Festival. That was 1997. Foo Fighters, Better Than Ezra, and Faith No More played. If you're in your late 30s, you might feel nostalgic about all that. I do. After shooting photos and covering the Voodoo Music and Arts Experience for the last three years, I believe that Voodoo Fest (as the locals naturally refer to it) shares in my nostalgia for the 90s. Hence the Beck and Guns and Roses
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headliners in 2019. Or how about A Perfect Circle and Marilyn Manson in 2018? It has changed. A pretty great deal. The whole stateof-the-art EDM stage, known as the Bacardi Le Plur stage, wasn't always there. I love it. Every year I stand in front of it and marvel at it. It sounds amazing. It looks amazing. If I could change one thing about it, it would be the MUD. Voodoo Fest would be doing everyone a solid if they laid
down some floor in front of that stage, in particular. But I digress. I have no idea what that costs or looks like to developers. Lastly, my experience these days varies greatly from my times crowdsurfing. My hope is just that as music changes and tastes expand, that "alternative" bands like Brutus continue to pop up.
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Keeping the heritage alive Swamp Life Expo celebrates traditions of Atchafalaya life
Beyond art, a glimpse into the way of life on the Atchafalaya Basin was on display at the Swamp Life Expo. —PHOTOS BY JOHN DUPONT
JOHN DUPONT An annual event Saturday in Grosse Tete gave generations young and old a closer look at how their ancestry lived and thrived off the resources in the massive Atchafalaya Basin. Atchafalaya Basin life, history, and cuisine commanded the spotlight during the 10th annual Swamp Life Expo at the Iberville Visitors Center, overlooking Bayou Grosse Tete. The event was sponsored by the Iberville Parish Council and Iberville Parish President JANUARY - MARCH 2020
J. Mitchell Ourso. Attractions at the event included the handcrafts and art of swamp life, along with exhibits of the handmade cypress boats that served as the sole source of transportation for residents of the mighty Basin area. Other exhibits included hand-crafted paddles, as well an alligator display. The event also featured live music from Terry and the Zydeco Bad Boys. As with most Louisiana heritage celebrations, homemade Cajun food
commanded a share of the spotlight. The mouthwatering cuisine included duck, goose and andouille sausage, Cajun boudin wraps, swamp bucket sauce piquante, hog cracklins, sweet potato pie, and bread pudding. The event drew nearly several hundred to the north end of Iberville Parish for an annual celebration that has continued to grow, according to Iberville Parish Environmental Manager John Clark, who devised the concept for the annual event. "The whole thing is about a culture of people who grew up in the bayou country, in the Atchafalaya Basin, connected to the water source," he said. "It's all about heritage and restoring pride in the community, and for the future generations to know about their heritage, see where their ancestors came from." In addition, the event featured a Walnut Bayou "Streamulator Model" that showed the formation of natural rivers by way of flowing water. The interactive attraction
– presented by the state Department of Environmental Quality – gave youngsters a chance to design a healthy, sustainable river. Another exhibit demonstrated local waters flow into the Barataria Terrebonne Estuary and then to the Gulf of Mexico, and the unique wildlife and fisheries in the estuary through an exhibit by the Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP). The event extends beyond a celebration of the culture. It's also an effort to keep the heritage alive, Clark said. "I'm not from here," Clark said. "I look at things from the outside, and people take things for granted. I say, now, what they do here is very unique. This is how things began. It's about keeping those connections in place." The event also served as a reminder of the importance to keep the swamp heritage alive. The North Iberville corridor of Grosse Tete, Rosedale and Maringouin often gets overlooked in stories of
Atchafalaya heritage, Clark said. "This is a good way to promote this area and show people that this portion of the parish is a diamond in the rough," he said. "This is the eastern gateway to the Atchafalaya Basin, and it has
been overlooked. "What people saw here today was what their grandparents talk about, but in a different light," Clark said. "What people see here is something they may never see again." – C–
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High School competition brings out the best LOGAN RIDENOUR The annual Shout Out between St. Amant High School and East Ascension High School was held at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center on November 7. The pep rally was a part of a few fundraising events in anticipation of their annual football game. Since 2008 this fundraiser for both schools has generated about $175,000 dollars, which is definitely something to shout about. Students crowded around for several performances which all led up to the cheers from each school. The schools were then rated by their volume, which determines the winner of the year. "It doesn't matter if you're from St. Amant or East Ascension, they look forward to this every year," said James E. LeBlanc, the coordinator of the event for the last 11 years. He says this event is a display of the sense of community that Ascension
—PHOTOS BY LOGAN RIDENOUR
Parish holds. "To have this huge community pep rally is probably one of the things that we're blessed with the most in this parish. "We can get together, we can scream together, we can communicate together and have a real good community event." When it came down to the numbers, East Ascension won this year's Shout Out. Which is something LeBlanc says was well deserved. "It showed that they brought their A-Game tonight," he said. East Ascension has only won four times since 2008. St. Amant High School and East Ascension High School each raised about $12,000 dollars from this year's fundraising efforts. – C–
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LIGHTS UP DOWNTOWN PLAQUEMINE
Plaquemine residents walking down Railroad Avenue during the third annual All Is Bright event, December 1. —PHOTOS BY LOGAN RIDENOUR
LOGAN RIDENOUR All is Bright lit up Railroad Avenue in downtown Plaquemine on Sunday evening, for the third year in a row. The event featured vendors from Plaquemine and other areas around Louisiana. It was cosponsored by the City JANUARY - MARCH 2020
of Plaquemine Main Street Program and We Are The Difference. The entertainment for those in attendance included the city Christmas tree lighting, different rides for the kids, a petting zoo, Santa and Mrs. Claus, live music, and food and craft vendors. According to Keith Desselle,
the Main Street Chairperson, All Is Bright brought in upwards of 70 vendors from Plaquemine and the surrounding areas. This sentiment ties closely with the mission statement of the Main Street Program. Their mission statement involves creating a positive image of downtown and improving the quality of life for
the commercial and residential neighborhood while providing contributions to the economy of Plaquemine. One vendor, Christa Ganaway is a Plaquemine resident and owns a local art studio called Westside Interiors and Design Studio. She said along with the positive interactions she received toward her business,
the citizens of Plaquemine also seemed to be enjoying the event. "It all seems to be great . . . there's been a lot of traffic and people really seem to be having fun and enjoying it," she said. Her booth was focused on promoting her new DIY workshops, along with the other services her business provides. Upcoming holiday events in Plaquemine include Caroling for the Lock at the Bayou Waterfront Park on December 7, and Holly Jolly Christmas at the Plaquemine Activity Center, December 21. – C–
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Steve Barlow finds comradery and fun at
Ride the Bull LOGAN RIDENOUR
Steve Barlow of Gonzales, La. took second place at the 10th Ride the Bull Kayak Fishing Tournament. It was hosted by the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Louisiana in the Grand Isle from August 23 through August 24. According to the CCA it is the largest extreme kayak fishing tournament in the world. This is the eighth time Steve Barlow has participated with his son-in-law. He also competes alongside his friends. He says the tournament allows for a great family environment, where safety is a top concern. Barlow says they begin by catching their own bait to prepare for the tournament ahead. This year, his winning fish was 26.44 pounds. It was the second one caught that morning. After the chase boats retrieve the fish, they will mark the time caught, weight and length. Following that, they will take it back to the dock, revive it and release it back into the water. After he caught his first fish, he was told it was the second one caught that morning and bigger than the first. From that point forward, he didn't look at the board or check his status, "So I wouldn't jinx myself," Barlow said. After catching one of the biggest fish this year, Barlow remains humble. "It's surreal, it's unbelievable," he said. One thing he has learned in the last eight years is that it's really a game of chance. "Everybody out there has just as much a chance as everybody else," Barlow said. He says the best part of the tournament is spending time with others. "If they like the comradery of good friends and good people, a tournament well put-on and organized, this is the thing to do," he said. – C–
Steve Barlow of Gonzales, La., who took second place at the 10th Ride the Bull Kayak Fishing Tournament. —COURTESY PHOTO JANUARY - MARCH 2020
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Christmas parade rolls in downtown Gonzales
—PHOTOS BY LOGAN RIDENOUR LOGAN RIDENOUR Members of the Gonzales community came together for the annual Christmas Parade in the early afternoon of December 8. The parade was hosted by the Jambalaya Festival Association. The theme for this year's parade was a Hero for Christmas. The floats were led by the Grand Marshall of the Parade, Fire Chief James LeBlanc. The route followed Irma Boulevard through Cornerview Road and ended on Burnside Avenue. The overall length of the parade lasted nearly two hours, but there was no shortage of treats being tossed from floats, or happy faces. The groups ranged greatly. Those participating in the parade included bands, marching groups, and floats from different schools and organizations from the surrounding areas. It appeared everyone at the parade was enjoying themselves and coming together to celebrate Christmas and those they consider heroes. To watch the full parade and listen to commentary from Rodney Dupuy, you can visit "Cajun Livin N Cookin" on YouTube. – C– JANUARY - MARCH 20
Make good choices in the drive-thru
—COURTESY PHOTO MELISSA ERICKSON Guest Contributor
Fast food can be loaded with saturated fat, sodium and calories, but it is possible to make healthier choices. "I do think fast food companies are trying to offer healthier options," said registered dietitian nutritionist Caroline Passerrell, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "This is likely due to customer demand, as well as recent legislation requiring chain restaurants to include calorie information on their menus." Make smart choices "Consumers looking to make a smart choice should order foods that are grilled, not fried, and opt for the smaller size whenever possible – even ordering a kids portion," Passerrell said. "Customers should aim to balance out their choices," said Liz Weinandy, lead outpatient dietitian at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. The best bets calorie-wise are often salads, grilled sandwiches and lean meats without too much mayo or cheese, Weinandy said. "Trying to find low sodium/salt foods
is very hard. Best bet here is to find something not too high and balance the rest of the day out with lower-sodium choices," Weinandy said. So if your heart's set on French fries, order a small size and opt for a salad or something lower in calories and saturated fat to accompany them, Weinandy said. "Salads can be a smart choice or laden with high-fat, high-calorie ingredients," Passerrell said. "Focus on salads that are mostly vegetables with a lot of color and lean proteins. Be mindful of the amount of dressing, cheese, croutons and candied nuts on your salad." "At many restaurants, it is hard to find a substitute for French fries. I tell people to enjoy a small portion and really savor them," Weinandy said. "There are some sides like baked potatoes and side salad, but if that really isn't what a person wants, then it may just leave them feeling unsatisfied and craving more fried foods later. There is some psychology at play here." Let water win Soda, sweet tea and milkshakes are empty calories, but sweet beverages are hard to resist, especially when they're so cheap.
"I wish water would win here! Unsweetened tea is a nice option, too," Weinandy said. If you do want sweet tea, order it unsweetened and add a small amount of sugar yourself. If you must order a sugary soda, make it a small, Weinandy said. "As we all know, the sizes at most fast food restaurants have increased over the years and are out of control. A small is more than enough, and if someone is really thirsty, they can get a bottle of water after the small soda," Weinandy said. Alternative options Many fast food restaurants now offer meat-free choices, but customers should be mindful of the saturated fat and sodium in vegetarian options, too, Passerrell said. The Impossible Whopper at Burger King is drawing attention but is not necessarily healthy, Weinandy said. "Environmentally speaking, it is much better than beef burgers. However, it is still highly processed and we don't know if it is really better for us health-wise," she said. "We want to get people eating fewer highly processed foods, not more, even plantbased foods." – C– JANUARY - MARCH 20
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