Louisiana Life May-June 2019

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Louisiana Life may/june 2019




Louisiana Life may/june 2019





Editor-In-Chief Errol Laborde


MANAGING Editor Melanie Warner Spencer



Gold Art Direction of a Single Story Silver Photo Series Silver Travel Package Silver Food Feature Silver Department Bronze Cover

Art Director Sarah George


Associate editor Ashley McLellan copy EDITOR Liz Clearman web Editor Kelly Massicot travel EDITOR Paul F. Stahls Jr. FOOD EDITOR Stanley Dry

lead photographer Danley Romero Editorial Intern Alice Phillips

sales vice president of sales Colleen Monaghan

(504) 830-7215 Colleen@LouisianaLife.com account executive Brittany Karno

(504) 830-7206 Brittany@LouisianaLife.com marketing DIRECTOR OF MARKETING & EVENTS Jeanel Luquette Event Coordinator Abbie Dugruise digital media associate Mallary Matherne

For event information call (504) 830-7264

Gold Art Direction of a Single Story Silver Portrait Photo Bronze Photographer of the Year Bronze Food Feature Bronze Cover Bronze Public Issue Bronze Hed & Dek 2016

Silver Art Direction of a Single Story Bronze Column Bronze Food Feature 2012


Gold Companion Website

production manager Emily Andras


production designers

Rosa Balaguer, Meghan Rooney traffic coordinator Lane Brocato

Administration Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne President Alan Campell Executive Vice President Errol Laborde office manager Mallary Matherne Distribution Manager John Holzer Subscription manager Brittanie Bryant

For subscriptions call (504) 830-7231

Silver Overall Art Direction Press Club of New Orleans 2018

1st Place Best Cover 1st Place MultiPhoto Feature 2nd Place Layout/ Design 2017

1st Place Best Magazine 2016

110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123 Metairie, LA 70005 (504) 828-1380 LouisianaLife.com Louisiana Life (ISSN 1042-9980) is published bimonthly by Renaissance Publishing, LLC, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005; (504) 828-1380. Subscription rate: One year $10; Mexico and Canada $48. Periodicals postage paid at Metairie, LA, and additional mailing entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Louisiana Life, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005. Copyright 2019 Louisiana Life. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Louisiana Life is registered. Louisiana Life is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Louisiana Life are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner.


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

Lifetime Achievement Award Errol Laborde 1st Place Best Magazine 1st Place Layout/ Design 2nd Place Best Magazine 2nd Place Layout/ Design 2nd Place Best Portrait 2nd Place Governmental/ Political Writing



may/june VOLUME 39 NUMBER 4



From The Editor

‘Lake Charles,’ The song 12 calendar

Peachy Keen: The peach festival in Ruston will satisfy your craving

46 roadside dining

Serious Shrimp: Whether it’s stuffed or busted, shrimp in Shreveport is borders on sport 48 great louisiana chef


Comfortably Yum: Kraig Dixon puts a twist on New Orleans comfort classics at plant-based restaurant Seed

along the way

Paradise Lost: Breton Island, home of Theodore Roosevelt’s only visit to a National Wildlife Refuge, and the rest of the Chandeleur Islands, could be lost in10 years according to experts

50 kitchen gourmet

Critical Conservation: The Mississippi River

Heavenly Match: 4 shrimp and veggie recipes for a tasty transition into summer



16 photo contest

state of louisiana


Pelican Briefs: Noteworthy news and happenings around the state

Home of the Hayride: Today’s performers bring new life to a stage made sacred by pioneers of Country, Western Blues and Rock

20 health

Catch of the Day: Louisiana residents argue about a lot, but one thing most agree on is we love our seafood

62 farther flung

Big Fun in Little Rock: History, culture, nature and good times abound in Arkansas’ capital

22 Literary Louisiana

For the Birds: An exposé of the world of birding in Louisiana 24 Made In Louisiana

Carving a Niche: Former Baker coach and teacher Lin Babb went from molding minds to shaping locallysourced wood into handcrafted cutting boards, bowls and serving pieces

38 Jefferson Highway Louisiana’s version of Route 66 has history, a group dedicated to its preservation and makes for a great road trip By Cheré coen illustrations by amber day

64 a louisiana life

Fashionable Philanthropy: Shreveport native Latasha Henderson uses fashion design to give back

28 artist

The View From Above: Photographer Ben Depp focuses on Louisiana’s vanishing coastal wetlands 32 home

Naturally Chic: Contemporary home in Sunset is designed for efficiency and sustainability

on the cover

By the time you are reading this, it’ll be prime road trip season. You’ve no doubt heard about — or have driven on — Route 66, but did you know that Louisiana has its own version? The Jefferson Highway — named after Thomas Jefferson for brokering the Louisiana Purchase — stretches from Winnigpeg, Canada all the way down to New Orleans and has a storied history and its own preservation group. There are a lot of charming cities and towns, fun attractions and good eats on the portion that runs through the Pelican State, which we cover in our cover story. Writer Cheré Coen offers up a host of places to go, stay and dine, as well as things to do if you decide to make the trip. She advices to bring a camera (or keep that camera phone charged), because the route features some of the most photogenic roads in Louisiana. Load up the car and hit the road for an adventure — without even leaving the state.



from the editor

‘Lake Charles,’ The song By Errol Laborde

I am willing to accept that there are lots of things in life that i don’t know.

P.S. Be sure to check out stories with the Earth icon at the top left of the page. Each of these pieces is about the conservation and preservation of Louisiana’s natural and manmade resources and important places.

What bothers me however, is the things that I don’t know, but everyone else seems to know. As I stood near the front door of a French Quarter art gallery recently, I feared that I was experiencing one of those occasions. Because there was an opening of a new exhibit the gallery owners tried to make the moment more festive by serving wine and providing a guitar duet. The music of the two, Carmela Rappazzo and Mark Carroll, was bluesy country. I liked their sound but there was one song in particular that just stopped me cold. It was both beautiful and melancholy. Through the crowd noise I thought I heard key words such as, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Lake Ponchartrain. Here was that dreaded “probably everyone knows this but me” moment. What is the name of that song, I asked the duo, “Lake Charles” Carmela responded. And who recorded it? “Lucinda Williams.” The song was released in 1998. That might have been the year when I was working undercover in Azerbaijan spying on the Russians, or, it might have been when I did a year-long spacewalk for NASA; I don’t remember which, but somehow I missed the song which was released as part of an album called “Car Wheels on A Gravel Road.” Last November, Williams embarked upon a 20th anniversary tour to celebrate the album’s release. Williams was born in Lake Charles but has travelled many roads, gravelly and otherwise. She is often described as having a gravelly voice, which puts some punctuation to the melancholy of her songs. In a sense her music is her gravel road. “Lake Charles,” the song, is about a former boyfriend of hers, Clyde Woodward, who died long after they had split but who still had an emotional tug. He was from Texas but always wanted to claim Lake Charles as his special place. (According to one story, because of a fondness for crawfish.) There is more to love in Lake Charles than just what comes from ponds. On a nice day the lakefront can be a delightful place as the sun sets over the Sabine river. On football nights the crowd sways as the McNeese State band plays a marching version of its fight song, and the Cajun anthem, “Jole Blonde.” Nearby Creole trails spread south into Cameron parish on the way to the crashing waves of the gulf. Lake Charles has its character, but it has also has a mixed identity. It is too east to be Texas and too west to be Cajun country. It is a place where pirates once hid and where cultures blend. It also gave the world Lucinda Williams, one of country music’s most soulful song writers, and the memories of Clyde. At the edge of town is the Calcasieu River Bridge, which is best known for the artistic pirate pistols that are part of the grid work on the bridge’s siding. It was from there that Woodward’s ashes were dispersed. Now your soul is in Lake Charles No matter what they say Did an angel whisper in your ear And hold you close and take away your fear Our cover story is about a highway, not a gravelly road but one that once linked New Orleans to Winnipeg Canada. Roads are a great source of metaphors about longing and discovering. They can also figure into matters of the heart creating a sentiment that is often best expressed through a song.


Louisiana Life may/june 2019




Peachy Keen The peach festival in Ruston will satisfy your craving


Cochon de Lait Festival

by kelly massicot

May 9-12 // Mansura

For 45 years, the “Cochon de Lait Capital of the World” holds its annual Cochon de Lait festival with tons of pig-related events and activities. In addition to the amazing food and music, visitors can participate in or experience the greasy pig contest, crackling cook-off, a hog calling contest, boudin eating contest, beer drinking contest and much more. cochondelaitfestival.com

Greater New Orleans

Top Taco

May 16 // New Orleans

Top Taco is a New Orleans upscale taco event where guests can sample unlimited gourmet tacos and delicious cocktails from chefs and restaurants all around the city. Festivalgoers can buy tickets for specialty tastings, VIP lounges and more. toptaconola.com


the louisiana peach festival has been around since 1951. The

surrounding area is known for its wealth of peach orchards and the event has grown exponentially since its inception. It now includes a kid’s fishing tournament, tennis tournament, rodeo, parade, antique car show, color run and of course a peach art exhibit and peach cookery contest among many other events held throughout the two-day festival.


DoMo Brewfest


Louisiana Peach Festival June 21-22 Ruston louisianapeachfestival.org

June 1 // Monroe. This annual Downtown Monroe (DoMo) fundraiser is the area’s only large-scale beer sampling event. Guests can sample over 200 beers and brews while jamming out to local music and sampling food from around the area. The festival even has an official BrewFest t-shirt available for purchase. domobrewfest.com

Louisiana Life may/june 2019

Soul Food Festival May 25-26 // Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge has soul, and this annual festival is out to prove it. Fun for the whole family, the Soul Food Festival gives Louisianians an opportunity to show their skills in the kitchen while bringing soul food to all festivalgoers. This family-friendly event will feature live music and local arts and crafts. hitcitydigital.wixsite. com/brsoulfoodfest



along the way

Paradise Lost Breton Island, home of Theodore Roosevelt’s only visit to a National Wildlife Refuge, and the rest of the Chandeleur Islands, could be lost in 10 years according to experts By Nick Reimann

Sitting in solitude, cross-legged,

with the Gulf waters gently rolling onto shore, former president Theodore Roosevelt seemed at peace on the remote Louisiana barrier island. One can see why — he worked to save it, after all, and he had done well. When Roosevelt visited in 1915, nesting birds’ eggs were no longer being destroyed on Breton Island, nor were they being harmed on the rest of the Chandeleur Islands to the north. Roosevelt heard during his presidency that this was happening, and used his authority to stop it, creating in 1904 what would become the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, to protect all the Chandeleur Islands. His visit 11 years later, with a political career largely over, would be the only one Roosevelt made to any of the National Wildlife Refuges first started under his presidency. For Roosevelt, seeing the conservation success in person surely served as a crowning achievement. A fragile ecosystem saved, he must have thought. Oh Teddy, if only you knew. That island, that historic island — the one visited by the original conservationist president — could cease to exist in 10 years. Yes, you read that right — cease to exist in 10 years. That’s according to Alex Kolker, a professor at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. “Could it disappear entirely? The answer to that is absolutely yes,” Kolker said of the Chandeleur Islands, where Breton Island serves as the southern end. On a Louisiana map, there’s little more recognizable along the coast than the Chandeleurs — their crescent shape well off mainland St. Bernard Parish representing the easternmost point in the state. But Kolker said we might need to start redrawing those maps, since even with the best coastal restoration efforts, the Chandeleurs stand little chance of a future that doesn’t involve becoming open water. Diversion plans bringing land-


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

building sediment from the Mississippi River to deteriorating coastal areas likely won’t make it to the Chandeleurs, Kolker said. The biggest factor in the islands’ near-term future is whether any major hurricanes come through, which pose the most immediate threat. But even in the best-case scenario, Kolker doesn’t give the Chandeleurs more than 50

years. Should a hurricane like Katrina hit, which significantly eroded the islands and destroyed a century-old lighthouse — the last remnant of a long-lost fishing community there — the islands might not withstand the next decade. And, before it’s glossed over, perhaps there’s the most important point. Not Teddy Roosevelt and not the Louisiana map — the fishing village.

photo: Library of Congress

Yes, while it’s hard to believe now, there was a fishing community on the Chandeleur Islands. Small farms, and a schoolhouse, too. The last of those permanent residents left soon after Roosevelt’s trip in June of 1915, when they evacuated for a hurricane and never came back, showing — even then — the power hurricanes have over the islands’ future.

It’s one thing to lose a presidential photo-op. Losing a community is another step entirely. Without learning from past coastal management mistakes, more communities will follow the one on the Chandeleur Islands — not just gone, but largely forgotten. So if the islands must be lost to history, we should at least learn lessons so others aren’t. n

Bio: Nick Reimann is a staff writer for The New Orleans Advocate and frequently freelances for other publications in the city. His stories focus on environmental issues, government and crime.



photo contest

Critical Conservation In 2014, the Mississippi River Basin was designated a Critical Conservation Area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The river is home to countless species of wildlife as well as a source of drinking water, recreation and industry for millions. Groups such as Restore the Mississippi River Delta aim to conserve the river that is important to everyday life. Photo by quincy white, baton rouge

Submit your photos by visiting louisianalife.com


Louisiana Life may/june 2019


pelican briefs Noteworthy news and happenings around the state

New Orleans

Bringing Back the Roar Lafayette

Whirlybirds are Coming by Lisa LeBlanc-Berry

Gov. John Bel Edwards and CEO Andreas Lowenstein of Kopter Group AG announced the Switzerland-based helicopter maker will assemble its new SH09 helicopter in Lafayette for customers throughout the Americas, resulting in more than 275 new jobs. It will serve as the U.S. headquarters for final assembly and customization (verticalmag. com; marencoswisshelicopter.ch).

New Iberia

Modern Inspirations


Expansion Underway for Refuge They react with indignation, laugh like us, wage war, they are selective at choosing friendships and their ability to remember numbers on a screen at age 5 is considerably higher than adult humans. When it’s hot, they enjoy sugarfree popsicles in the shade at the 200-acre Chimp Haven, located 30 minutes from Shreveport. The largest sanctuary for chimps in the world, it is slated for completion this summer, thanks to a recent anonymous $1 million gift following a $10 million donation from the Walter Family Foundation for habitat expansion. More than 270 chimps are enjoying their retirement here after being rescued from biomedical research; 200 are still waiting. Visitors will have a rare chance to experience the chimps first-hand during Chimpanzee Discovery Days (Oct. 19 and Nov. 16). Internships are available for those who want to get more involved. (chimphaven.org)

Jazz Great is Flying Home


The Louisiana Architecture Foundation is partnering with the Iberia Cultural Resources Association to showcase an eclectic selection of mid-50s to early-70s modernstyled homes in New Iberia. The self-guided June 1 tour includes six open homes and a modern-styled church (Bayou Teche Museum; eventbrite.com/e/ new-Iberia-modernhouse-tour-tickets).

Broussard Broussard is kicking off a new downtown revitalization plan with a new four-story condominium called The Sax, inspired by the late local saxophone player, Jean-Baptiste “Illinois” Jacquet. A substantial statue of Jacquet (best remembered for his solo on “Flying Home”) will be mounted in the courtyard with music filling the air 24/7. The first jazz musician to be an artist-in-residence at Harvard University, the legendary composer played with Cab Calloway’s Orchestra in Lena Horne’s movie “Stormy Weather.” Groundbreaking is set for July.

Louisiana Life may/june 2019

After six years without any lions, the Audubon Zoo has acquired four with hopes for cubs, thanks to a $5 million grant from Joy and Donald “Boysie” Bollinger that fully covers the cost of their new habitat. Arnold weighs 450 pounds and sisters Nia, Zuri and Kali weigh around 300 pounds each. Their new home is designed with a replica of an abandoned 1920s-era train station. It is the largest single gift the zoo has ever received from an individual or family.

Maurice, Baton Rouge

Get it While it’s Hot If you crave those delicious deboned stuffed chickens, bacon-wrapped duck breasts, turduckens, crawfish hot tamales, alligator dip and rice dressing stock from the legendary Hebert’s Meat Market in Maurice, check out the new Hebert’s Specialty Meats (7949 Jefferson Highway) in Baton Rouge. The new focus is the addition of tables and booths for dining at the market (hebertsmeats.com).

Lake Charles

Lucrative Terminal Underway Pipeline giants Energy Transfer Partners and Shell signed a new agreement that takes steps toward building a multibilliondollar liquefied natural gas export terminal in Lake Charles. It outlines the terms of a deal involving 5,000 construction jobs and 200 full-time positions when fully operational. The objective is to have an operated LNG export position on the Gulf Coast by the time global supply is expected to tighten in the mid-2020’s.

Houma, Alexandria, New Orleans, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, West Monroe, Shreveport, Madisonville

Almost There A major breakthrough in Louisiana’s medical marijuana program may mean patients may be able to access the long-awaited medicine sometime this summer. Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain said the LSU Ag Center and its private partner GB Sciences can finally move forward with full production at its main facility in Baton Rouge. Once a random sample in the agency’s lab passes the testing it will be ready for distribution through the 9 designated pharmacies: H&W Drugstore (New Orleans), Capitol Wellness Solutions (Baton Rouge), Green Leaf Dispensary (Houma), The Apothecary (Lafayette), Medicis (Lake Charles), The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy (Alexandria), Hope Pharmacy (Shreveport), Delta Medmar (West Monroe) and Willow Pharmacy (Madisonville).

Lake Charles

Downtown at Sundown 2019 Recurring weekly on Fridays May 17-June 7, the free annual concert series Downtown at Sundown (1001 Ryan St.) features Cajun, zydeco, swamp pop and classic rock along with different regional artists for each concert, plus food booths, tabletop galleries, art sales and kid’s activities. The street fair format brings thousands of visitors to Ryan Street to benefit literacy.

New Orleans

New Housing for Med Students In an effort to provide more modern and affordable housing options to the thousands studying medicine and nursing at 6 local health science schools in New Orleans, LSU is moving forward with a new $100 million mid-city housing complex for med students. Designed to enhance campus life, it’s the first student housing to be built for New Orleans-based LSU students in more than 50 years. Pending approvals, the dorm-style building will occupy a block at S. Galvez and Poydras streets new I-10.

Bossier City

From Fallen Trees to Art Boomtown Casino, Eagle Distributing, 1800 Prime and Bossier City present WAM (Wine, Art & Music) featuring the exhibit “Art Burned” with works by third-generation acclaimed wood carver Kimberly Gable May 8 at 1800 Prime Steakhouse, 300 Riverside Drive. The quarterly event includes wine tastings, food pairings and live music (bossierarts.org or call 318-741-8310).



healthy louisiana Preparation Matters

Catch of the Day Louisianians are a passionate bunch and argue about a lot of things. One thing most agree upon however, is how much we love our seafood. Bonus: It’s a local and sustainable food! But if you’re watching your weight and trying to stay heart healthy, is it something to embrace or avoid? By Fritz Esker

The Good News! Local seafood is good for you! Molly Kimball, a registered dietitian with Ochsner Fitness Center, said our seafood delicacies are generally healthy dining options. Shrimp, redfish and all types of fresh fish are superlean sources of protein and low in fat. They are even better for you than traditional healthy choices like grilled chicken. “They [seafood] are ounce for ounce lower in calories than a grilled skinless chicken breast,” Kimball said. Seafood across the board is an excellent way to improve your vitamin B intake. B vitamins are key for a body’s energy production. Oysters have more carbs than other types of fish, but they make up for it by being very high in zinc. Zinc helps your body’s immune system and healing processes.


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

This doesn’t mean you should think “Great! I’m going to eat my favorite fried seafood poor boy three times a week now because it’s good for me!” While the healthy parts of seafood remain in those cases, the batter and the bread add calories and carbs. If you feel like a fry, Kimball recommends using light batter or no batter. Use a light olive oil or an avocado oil (do not use extra virgin olive oil). Pecan oil is good for you, but very expensive. Instead of deep frying the seafood, try panfrying it in a skillet. Another fun option is a crawfish stir fry with vegetables. Use sesame oil instead of soy. If you want to include pasta or rice, use zucchini pasta or cauliflower rice.

Seasonings Many Louisianians scoff at the idea of grilling or frying fish without giving it a little spicy kick. But not all seasonings are created equal. Kimball said traditional Cajun seasonings often have about 325 milligrams of sodium, but some brands take it easy. Geaux Creole has about 75 milligrams of sodium and Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic has about 100 milligrams. However, there is also a healthy way to season your seafood without going to the store: grow your own herbs! Kimball said basil, rosemary and oregano are among the healthy options you can grow in a garden at home.




For the Birds

“The Art of Place” by Lee Ledbetter, Rizzoli, 240 pages, $34.43.

An exposé of the fascinating world of birding in Louisiana By Ashley McLellan

“Adventures of a Louisiana Birder, 1 Year, 2 Wings, 300 Species” by Marybeth Lima

A tale of intrigue, a near-death experience, humorous mishaps and a year-long road trip. Does this sound like the most recent account from your favorite dashing international journalist? A diary from the frontline? A travelogue from dangerous jungles? How about the heretofore undisclosed exciting life of a birder? LSU professor Marybeth Lima brings a tale of excitement and turmoil, science and nature, all while on the trail to document Louisiana’s unique bird population. Traversing the state, along with her spouse Lynn, Lima reveals the down and dirty side of birding, all while documenting 300 species of birds from the lush and unique Louisiana habitat.

“Adventures of a Louisiana Birder, 1 Year, 2 Wings, 300 Species” by Marybeth Lima, LSU Press, 272 Pages, $39.95

“The Art of Place” by Lee Ledbetter

New Orleans architect and interior designer Lee Ledbetter believes that incorporating a home’s history with clean and classic design is essential to create interiors that are at once modern and mindful of the past. “The Art of Place,” Ledbetter’s first book, will inspire both professionals and fans of design. n


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

“Who Slays the Wicked,”

beach read

by C.S. Harris, Berkley Press, 352 pages, $26.00. The latest from local writer C.S. Harris takes Regency hero Sebastian St. Cyr on a new mysterious adventure. After a notorious nobleman is found brutally murdered, St. Cyr must find a killer, while navigating a

Ask a Librarian Lafayette Public Librarian Perry Missner offers some reading recommendations along with Twitter-sized reviews: Fiction

“You Think It, I’ll Say It” by Curtis Sittenfeld

“Intriguing short stories, mainly about power dynamics between couples. Thoughts on fame, the past, and motherhood. I will read more by this author.”

There is a real talent to capturing complicated ideas with simplicity and humor. These essays on the history of science and philosophy were excellent. Just my type of book. Perry Missner (Lafayette Public Librarian) “When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought” by Jim Holt, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 384 pages, $28.00

maze of misdirects, suspicious clues and a web of rumor and intrigue among the London elite. Harris is a writer who has the smarts and experience to back up her writing, with a PhD in European history, time spent on archeological digs across the country and a passport stamped from time in Spain, England, Australia and more international destinations. She now calls Louisiana home.

“The Witch Elm” by Tana French

“I thought the first 75 percent of this book was extremely compelling and French set up a beautiful mystery. The resolution dragged a bit. The audio was very well read.” Nonfiction

“Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side” by Julia Shaw

“An examination of what people think as evil is usually something that they have not considered fully. Looks at some of the strangeness of people in an effort to ‘demystify the other.’ There seemed to be an odd tone shift in the middle of the book.”




Carving a Niche Former Baker coach and teacher Lin Babb went from molding minds to shaping locally-sourced wood into handcrafted cutting boards, bowls and serving pieces By Jeffrey Roedel photos by romero & romero

Glimmers of a December sun reflect

wildly off the wet ground, a slick, dark floor of fallen leaves and mud left by last night’s rain. A hatchet that looks like it has earned its rust leans across a thin handrail on the porch, and a wood-carved crucifix towers over everything in the front yard. Past a path of planks, a door opens to a rustic, farmhouse space studded with lawn equipment, deer antlers and a thicket of angular slices of lumber. Wearing a black Patagonia parka with the Twitter bird logo on its sleeve, wood craftsman Lin Babb toys with his Christmas present, a small welding machine. Its fire-engine red veneer shines in stark contrast to the well-worn patina of the rest of the workshop. “Believe it or not, I got it cleaned up right now,” Babb says with an easy smile and grandpa eyes. “Ever watch that show ‘Hoarders?’ I could be on that show. I don’t throw anything, any piece of wood away.” Since 2013 Babb has put it all to good use. After an early morning start — eschewing coffee for a mug of hot chocolate and cream — he trudges out to his shop to pull raw walnut, cherry and maple and begin their evolution into handcrafted cutting boards, bowls and serving pieces that look and feel like works of art pulled from Mother Earth and given back to her people. His process is laborious, so he makes just a few each week. And no two pieces are the same. “I’m really not good enough to make two of these devils just alike,” Babb jokes. “But that’s the great thing about it. You can go to Walmart and get a cutting board, but it won’t be handmade.” Babb has been working with wood since he was in high school in Alexandria. “It’s very relaxing,” Babb says in a gravellysweet voice just as likely to say aw-shucks as it


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

is to quote organic farming advocate Robert Rodale. “And when you’re done, it’s pure joy looking at it, and knowing ‘I made that. I accomplished something.’” He’s tried his hand at some furniture-making and even started a hand-carved sign business, but nothing really stuck. After 40 years in the public school system in Baker where he taught pysical education and coached volleyball and softball — and met his wife Terrie — he retired. That’s when daughter Mattie Babb Zito decided her Christmas present to her father in 2012 would be using her marketing savvy and web skills to launch a business with him.



“Handcrafted work was just coming back into more mainstream conversation at that point, and I wanted dad to see that he could do this, that with a creative approach he could turn his lifelong hobby into a real business as a maker,” says Zito, who works in the marketing department of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters. If she’s the brains of the operation, as Lin describes, then he’s the hands. Each board begins with an outline sketched in pencil right on top of the grain of locallysourced wood. Then Babb hand cuts and planes it. Next, the rough board is sanded, dunked in water, dried and sanded again. Babb repeats that process five or six times —“til it feels like glass,” he says. A run of steel wool and hand-rubbed coats of mineral oil and beeswax finish each piece. Linwood Co. has received shout-outs from Garden & Gun and Anthropologie, among other Southern tastemakers. Babb and his wife Terrie keep their newspaper and magazine clippings and photos of their boards emailed by customers in a huge scrapbook in their den. Though some people hang them untouched on the wall like exhibits, Babb hopes his boards are cut on and used for family meals, then passed to future generations like an heirloom. “Of all things I wish I had my grandmother’s cutting board,” he says.

Since 2013 Babb has shipped boards to nearly every state and dozens of countries. At 76, every sale excites him still. “Sending them all over the world really inspires me,” he says. “That dad-gum internet, I tell you what.” Nature not only provides Babb with his source materials, but Lin and Terrie’s country home off a narrow gravel road north of Baton Rouge reveals the wild inspiration he finds in the outdoors daily. His ideal day off is sitting with Terrie in a deer stand in the middle of the quiet woods. Lately, he’s begun experimenting with hunting knife designs, but wants to perfect his work before selling those. “Everything I do is tied to fishing and deer hunting and then cooking them up for dinner,” says Babb. “It’s all about good Louisiana living.” n 26

Louisiana Life may/june 2019

And when you’re done, it’s pure joy looking at it, and knowing ‘I made that. I accomplished something.’




The View From Above Photographer Ben Depp focuses on Louisiana’s vanishing coastal wetlands By John R. Kemp

Louisianians have heard the alarming

reports. Rising sea-levels, saltwater intrusion, land subsidence, canal dredging, hurricanes, invasive animal species and man-made levees are destroying Louisiana’s coastal wetlands at a rate of up to 35 square miles a year, an average of a football field an hour, and by 2050 a stretch of Louisiana coastline the size of Rhode Island will be underwater. Despite numerous fresh water diversion projects now underway in South Louisiana, the warnings are dire. “Louisiana’s wetlands are disappearing at an incredible rate and I want to document this landscape before it’s gone,” says Ben Depp, a New Orleans-based, freelance, documentary photographer who has spent the last five years photographing Louisiana’s vanishing coastline and threatened coastal communities. Depp’s dramatic photographs of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, one of the most productive estuaries and ecosystems in the world, bring clarity and immediacy to statistics, maps and scientific reports. One can actually see submerged marshlands, dead stands of cypress, disappearing barrier islands, man-made canals cutting through wetlands, and the growing vulnerability of small coastal fishing villages like Isle de Jean Charles in Terrebonne Parish. To capture those startling images, Depp mounts a motor-powered paraglider, with an 80-pound gasoline, 19-horsepower airplane engine strapped to his back. So far, he has flown above the state’s

exhibitions & events


Through May 11

Through May 18

Through June 2

Through June 8

Through June 9

Through June 22



New Orleans

New Orleans

Baton Rouge


LSU Museum of Art. “Across the Atlantic: American Impressionism through the French Lens.” lsumoa.org

Alexandria Museum of Art. “Sordid and Sacred: The Beggars in Rembrandt’s Etchings.” Features 35 rare etchings by the master executed between 1629 and 1648. themuseum.org

Masur Museum. “The 56th Annual Juried Competition.” Exhibit features contemporary artists from across the nation. masurjuried.org

Louisiana Life may/june 2019

Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum. “Slavery, The Prison Industrial Complex: Photographs by Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick.” Husband-and-wife photographers explore life inside Angola. hilliardmuseum.org

New Orleans Museum of Art. “Keith Sonnier: Until Today” First comprehensive museum exhibit for this pioneering Grand Mamou-born New York contemporary artist. noma.org

M.S. Rau Antiques. “From Sea to Shining Sea, 200 Years of American Art.” rauantiques.com

Through July 6

Through July 14

New Orleans

New Orleans

Newcomb Art Museum. “Per(Sister): Incarcerated Women of Louisiana.” Art created by formerly incarcerated women in partnership with local and national artists. newcombartmuseum. tulane.edu

Ogden Museum of Southern Art. “Vernacular Voices, Selftaught, Outsider and Visionary Art from the Museum’s Collection.” ogdenmuseum.org

Through July 20

Lake Charles Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center. “Broken Time: Sculpture by Martin Payton.” Opens May 10. Features local artist Martin Payton’s 20 steel sculptures inspired by New Orleans jazz musicians. cityoflakecharles.com

coastal marshes from St. Bernard Parish to Cameron Parish at elevations from 10 to 5,000 feet to photograph the ongoing environmental tragedy in South Louisiana. His images are stunningly beautiful, composed by an artist, and at the same time frightening. “Because South Louisiana is so flat,” he says, “to really get any perspective you have to be up in the air to understand what’s around you. The photographs help you understand the inherent value of this landscape and what’s being lost. People know the coast marshes are changing but few have Road to Isle de Jean been out there. It’s a very inaccesCharles, Terrebonne sible landscape. My photos are to Parish, Louisiana help people see the value of the The road to the island landscape and what’s happening. of Isle de Jean Charles. U.S. Department of It’s a magical experience — and a Housing and Urban little terrifying.” Development is paying $52 million to help Depp first thought of using residents move off drones to capture the images, but their eroding island. Terrebonne Parish, drones were too expensive and Louisiana. 12/16/2014 limiting. A motor-powered paraglider, he thought, would enable him to fly high above the marsh to get a full view and better understanding of the expansive landscape and, at the same time, give him the flexibility to explore hard to reach places. “From up there,” says Depp, “you can see where the saltwater comes through the oil and gas canals and the marsh is breaking up and not getting new nourishments. You can see the dead oaks and cypress and remnants of old forests. You can see how the water works on the wetlands and how it moves on the beaches. In a few places, you can even see how fresh water diversion from the Mississippi River is building up new land.” The 36-year-old Washington, D.C. native brings fresh eyes and sensitivity to Louisiana’s environmental problems. In 2013 Depp moved to New Orleans with his wife Alexis Erkert, a LouisianaLife.com


publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine and The Times of London. Like social upheavals in Haiti, Africa and Nepal, Depp says Louisiana’s vanishing coastline is a big story; one he feels compelled to cover. “In my previous work as a documentary photographer,” he says, “I’d frequently fly in and out of New Orleans and I could see the wetlands from above. I saw how beautiful and serene the land is. I wanted to tell the story from above with aerial photographs.” Taking to the air suspended from a paraglider is an adventure that often lasts several

Louisiana Highway 1 stretches through miles of eroding wetlands. Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. 10/11/2014

Isle de Jean Charles, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana The Isle de Jean Charles used to be miles wide and surrounded by wetlands. It is now just a strip of houses surrounded by mostly open water. Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. 2/14/2015.

See Ben Depp’s work at his “Tide Lines” exhibition on view through May 21 at A Gallery for Fine Photography, 241 Chartres Street, New Orleans (504) 568-1313 or visit bendepp.com.


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

lawyer with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. Prior to New Orleans, the couple lived in Haiti where he worked as a freelance photographer covering poverty, earthquakes and the abuses in the gold mining industry on the island. He even learned to speak Haitian Creole French. Since his early days as a newspaper photographer in North Carolina and as an independent freelancer, Depp has covered small town football, revolution in Nepal, healthcare in Cameroon, climate change, and cotton farming in Texas. Several of those projects were underwritten by grants from the National Geographic Society, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and the Ford Foundation. His photographs and reporting have appeared in numerous national and international

days with him camping out nights in his pickup truck. He can stay up for about three hours before refueling all the time staying within sight of dry land for emergency landings. He also wears a GPS satellite beacon device and an inflatable life vest just in case he has engine trouble over open water. To capture the beauty of the landscape, Depp sets out at sunrise and sunset when the sun is low on the horizon and the light “rakes across the land,” creating warm, dramatic colors and depth. The results are both stunning and disturbing. To him the camera is a painter’s brush and a journalistic tool. “I spend hours in the air, camera in hand,” Depp says, “waiting for the brief moments

when the first warm rays of sunlight mix with cool predawn light and illuminate forms in the marsh grass or when the light sculpts a dead tree laying on the water at sunset. I look for spaces where the geometric patterns of human enterprise — canals, oil platforms, pipelines and roads — collide with nature’s organic forms.” Depp’s words call to mind what the famed artist Andrew Wyeth once said about his paintings. “I am an instrument, trying to tune in on the thing that’s already done there. I wish I could be nothing, just float over the woods and fields.” While gliding high over these watery landscapes and what he calls “ghost forests,” the artist in

Depp takes in the beauty and vastness of the landscape. But at the same time, a sorrow builds in him at seeing the natural and man-made destruction. He imagines what was and what could be. “When I am in the Atchafalaya Basin,” Depp says, “I can see what South Louisiana should look like and what this place was. I feel a real sadness for what’s lost, a loss primarily caused by shortsighted economic gain. It’s not real economic gain when you take into account the future and exploitation of South Louisiana. With this work, I hope to memorialize this vanishing otherworldly environment.” n

Montegut, Algae Blooms Near Montegut, Louisiana, 2016




Naturally Chic Contemporary home in Sunset is designed for efficiency and sustainability BY JEFFREY ROEDEL photos BY haylei smith

Reaching for a hand towel in the

Griffard residence requires sliding a dark wood panel past a golden grid of speakers on a 1950s Grundig hi-fi sound system. Above, the vinyl turntable has been supplanted by a shining, modern sink and faucet, and where the traditional backsplash would have been, now a handsome bank of dials and radio coordinates panels the bathroom wall. It’s a playfully musical moment in a home that, like a great melody, both strikes an attention-grabbing chord and echoes harmoniously in its environment. “I wanted to be able to get funky in a few places,” says Phyllis Griffard, the University of Louisiana biology instructor who built the home in 2016 with her husband Pete, a recent retiree from Shell. “At the same time we are naturalists, we tread lightly. We wanted to minimize our square footage, minimize our waste.” Contemporary with touches of Southern color, the design by Lisa Bourque is marked by the expansive worldview of a well-educated couple who spent 20 years bouncing from Japan, to China, to Qatar, to Houston, with two boys in tow, only to settle back into Louisiana and build a home that was inspired by the grand adventures they’ve had rather than the ones they hope to go on some day. That includes a heated towel dryer from the UK, bidet toilet seats and clever storage space applications from Japan, plus authentic Middle Eastern rugs throughout.

The airy kitchen, crowned by a sloped ceiling 18-feet at the high point, is a convergence of the clean lines of the Griffards’ Scandinavian-style minimalism, a warm tangerine and avocado color palette, and energy-efficient picture windows that invite the green of nature to impact the space.


Louisiana Life may/june 2019



Throughout, the Griffards took an uncluttered approach inspired by their time living in Japan. “There wasn’t a drawer or cabinet in the design that [designer] Lisa [Bourque] didn’t ask, ‘Now what’s going in that?’ and the answer couldn’t just be, ‘It’s for storage,” Phyllis says.

“We’ve moved a lot and had to make do all our lives with whatever homes we could find within our timeframe and budget,” Phyllis says. “With this house we really wanted to make it ours, finally.” Located in quiet Sunset, an old railroad town thick with sweet potato farms and seemingly endless oaks and pines, the Griffards chose their 7.5-acre plot for its closeness to nature and the city as well. Most days Phyllis can leave home and be at the door of her on-campus office in Lafayette in less than 20 minutes. At 2,722 square feet of conditioned living space, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home under angular, intersecting rooflines feels larger than it is. After years in huge cities, often with a language barrier, the Griffards were hungry to reconnect with wilderness. With high-efficiency windows and insulation, the property’s minimal landscaping, thoughtful water run-off system, and composting, the home is geared for efficiency and sustainability. The house was designed on an East-West axis that greatly minimizes heat gain from the large windows. The couple’s electric bill is about $100 a month. “We wanted to be closer to nature, and we got it,” Pete says. “I love our large windows, especially


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

The dining space sits adjacent to a screened porch that connects the two main sections of the home, dogtrot house-style.

when the moon rises up and is visible through them. From any angle in our living area we can look out and see the green of nature.” Pete works in the yard a lot, so Bourque designed a special entrance and mudroom for him to get messy. Phyllis admires the way the rural landscape seeps into their new home. “You stay connected to the rhythm of nature, the seasons,” she says. “Out there it’s bobcats and butterflies, and you don’t miss anything. The design makes it easy to connect with nature.” While feeling almost Scandinavian minimalist in places, Bourque did draw on elements of 19th-century dogtrot houses with two living spaces connected by a breezeway under a common roof. In the Griffards’ case, the connecting feature is a Louisiana classic: the


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

screened-in porch. Nested under the shade of the large, jutting eaves, they often relax on the porch with their pup Eva or when their sons Emile and Gabriel visit for dinner. A trio of cartographer Harold Fisk’s 1940s maps showing the historical traces of the Mississippi River beckons visitors into the kitchen with a nod to Louisiana’s past in the contemporary language of vivid, almost surreal colors. “They weren’t afraid of color or opening up,” Bourque says. “They told me their story and a lot about themselves and that helped the design tremendously, so that the interior and exterior fit together.” That palette of pastel green, ocean blue and a muted, well-tanned orange is used across the entire home, and was pulled from a painting

of carousing swing dancers by painter Signe Grushovenko. Phyllis and Pete first met two-stepping on a dance floor in New Orleans. “He was a broken-in Cajun,” Phyllis jokes of her husband who relocated from his native Michigan to Louisiana with the oil industry. The couple invested in the painting of the dancers for their 20th anniversary, and now it sets the rhythm of their contemporary home. “The great thing about a talented residential designer is that you know she’s working for you, whereas an architect or contractor could possibly have their own vision,” Phyllis says. “Lisa really represented our life and our values in the design. We ended up feeling like it is really ours.”n

(left) At 2,722 square feet of conditioned living space, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home under angular, intersecting rooflines feels larger than it is. (below) Pete and Phyllis Griffard and dog Eva enjoy the porch that looks out onto their 7-plus acres outside of Lafayette. Being certified naturalists, their home is designed to make as little impact on the rural landscape around them as possible.



b y c h e r ĂŠ c o e n i l l u s t r at i o n s b y a m b e r d a y

Louisiana’s version of Route 66 has history, a group dedicated to its preservation and makes for a great road trip

n o s r e ff e J


Before his company created Better Homes & Gardens and other memorable magazines, Edwin T. Meredith covered America’s farms. Almost exactly 100 years ago he was reporting on transportation trends, noting the rise of the automobile and the completion of the Panama Canal as key to the future of America’s growth — with good reason. Quality roads were hard to come by in the early 20th century.

A National Auto Trail system had been created to connect highways in both the United States and Canada, some marked by logos on telephone poles. For the most part, however, organized highways remained few and far between. Meredith came up with an idea, to build a highway from Winnipeg, Canada, to New Orleans through the heart of the Louisiana Purchase territory and name it for the president responsible for the original land transaction. Farmers would utilize the highway for moving crops to market. Tourists would travel through cities and back roads, bringing commerce to both large and small communities. It would be called the Jefferson Highway, linking 264 communities. A meeting to discuss such a plan was called for Nov. 15 to 16, 1915, in New Orleans by the New Orleans Association of Commerce. Invites were sent to 750 state and local governments, Good Roads groups (advocates for improved roads), automobile clubs and other community organizations. Organizers expected a small group of concerned citizens to arrive in the Crescent City that fall but more than 500 people from 11 states arrived. “When organizers met in New Orleans in November of 1915 I think every state in the Midwest was there because they knew it was going to be successful,” said Glenn

Smith, president of the Jefferson Highway Association, an organization dedicated to preserving and improving the historic road. Thus, the Jefferson Highway was born.

the louisiana stretch

An unassuming concrete monument with a bronze tablet marks the spot where the Jefferson Highway ends in New Orleans. Located on the corner of Common Street and St. Charles Avenue, it merely states “The End of the Jefferson Highway — Marked by the New Orleans Chapter D.A.R. 1917, Winnipeg to New Orleans.” When organizers began the highway at that 1915 meeting in New Orleans, only the key cities were agreed upon. They were Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Des Moines, Iowa; St. Joseph and Kansas City, Missouri; Muskogee, Oklahoma; Denison, Texas and Shreveport, Alexandria, Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-16011


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

Edwin T. Meredith came up with an idea, to build a highway from Winnipeg, Canada, to New Orleans through the heart of the Louisiana Purchase territory and name it for the president responsible for the original land transaction. Farmers would utilize the highway for moving crops to market. Tourists would travel through cities and back roads, bringing commerce to both large and small communities.



The original idea of a highway through the Louisiana Purchase territory wasn’t logical for the Arkansas mountains, said Smith. Texas and Oklahoma proved easier to navigate so the Jefferson Highway curves west at Shreveport, then east again into Missouri and north toward Winnipeg through Iowa and Minnesota. Once the cardinal points were chosen, the organizers left the rest of the route to the counties and townships. “These cities or towns were to be on the highway and future meetings and road development would determine the specific routes between the cardinal points,” Smith said. “At the time, there were no highway departments. It was up to local governments and local people. It was quite unique, even for that time in history.” Travelers along the Jefferson Highway would begin at Common and St. Charles but not head west on Claiborne as they would today. Instead, the Jefferson Highway followed Canal Street north to City Park Avenue and


Louisiana Life may/june 2019


Metairie Road, then veered west along Metairie Road into Jefferson Parish where Shrewsbury Road connected travelers to the present Jefferson Highway, according to Ned Hémard who wrote “Winnipeg to New Orleans” for his 2013 column for the New Orleans Bar Association newsletter. In 1915, the same year hundreds gathered in New Orleans to discuss the formation of the Jefferson Highway, the Orleans-Kenner Electric Railway was established from Canal and Rampart to the St. Charles and Jefferson Parish line. The “O-K Line” railway cars resembled trolleys with room for farm produce and traveled along what is now Jefferson Highway from the Orleans Parish line to Kenner. “An act of great foresight by the O-K Line owners led to the creation of Jefferson Highway as it is today,” wrote Earl J. Higgins in “Metairie, Ames, High: The Streets of Jefferson Parish.” “When the railroad company acquired the land to lay tracks and build stations, it bought a corridor 100 feet wide, 30 feet for the tracks and 35 feet on either side for further use and development. Those buffer and expansion strips would later carry motorized vehicles alongside the railway cars. The O-K Line continued until 1930, when buses replaced them on what had become Jefferson Highway.” Jefferson Highway in Jefferson Parish, both historic and present, ends at Kenner, where the O-K Line also concluded. The road merges with Third Street and heads into St. Charles Parish, then follows the River Road all the way to Highway 73, which turns north toward Geismer, Dutch Town, Prairieville and a neighborhood known as “Old Jefferson” in southeast Baton Rouge. Heading west, the highway dissects Baton Rouge with parts still carrying its name, travels along Government Street downtown, then crosses the river into Port Allen where it parallels Interstate 10 through Rosedale and Maringouin. After turning north toward Livonia and Fordoche, the highway crosses the Atchafalaya River at Melville and eventually follows the “Old Baton Rouge Highway” into Alexandria, where it becomes Jackson Street before crossing the Red River into Pineville. The northern section of the Jefferson Highway curves every which way, passing through the small towns of Tioga, Colfax, St. Maurice and Clarence before becoming the Winnfield Highway and curving above Natchitoches, crossing the Red River once again. The road takes visitors into Natchitoches and along its famed historic Jefferson Street, the name of which dates back to the highway’s origination. Heading west out of Natchitoches, Jefferson Highway overlays the Old Spanish Trail, or El Camino Real, to Robeline where it turns north on Highway 120 to pass

through Marthaville, then north on Highway 175 to Pleasant Hill and Mansfield before entering Shreveport. The final stretch leaves downtown Shreveport and backtracks on Highway 79 west, then Highway 80 to the Texas state line.

END Winnipeg, Canada

Road trips

In addition to getting farmer’s produce to market, the international Jefferson Highway was created for tourism, Smith explained. “Meredith’s big thing was to go north in summer and south in winter,” he said. In late 1917, the premier of Manitoba, the mayor of Winnipeg and two other Canadian government officials traveled the highway’s 264 cities, towns and village in a Hudson Super-Six auto. They drove 2,267 miles at an average of 20 miles an hour, according to the December 1917 issue of the Jefferson Highway magazine, The Declaration. In September of 1919, the mayors of New Orleans and Shreveport, along with other Louisiana officials, drove north to Minnesota to span the Mississippi River at its source, their journey documented in The Modern Highway, a publication of the Jefferson Highway Association. A collection of cars sporting Louisiana emblems could be seen parked inside Minnesota’s Itasca State Park. Today, Smith estimates a drive along the entire highway would take two to three weeks by those who love to traverse historic roads slowly, stopping along the way to enjoy local culture. When the organization meets in Natchitoches for its biannual international meeting, plans are to visit Grayson’s barbecue in Clarence and the historic Bentley Hotel in Alexandria. “If a person’s not in a hurry, the Jefferson Highway’s a great trip going through those interesting little towns,” he said. “And we are the kind of tourists that are really valuable to those small towns.”

Smith admits that most people have heard of Route 66, one of the first interstate American highways that connected Chicago to the West Coast beginning in 1926. But with better highway markers and more educational outreach the Jefferson Highway may see its day in the sun as well. Iowa has been steadfast in marking the historic road, he said, and plans are in the works to outline the routes in other states. The organization offers an interactive map on its website so drivers in all states and Manitoba may plot exactly where the original highway existed. “We like to say we’re the first international highway in the Mississippi Valley,” Smith said. “Our hopes and goals are to basically capture what Route 66 has been able to do and make it an interesting drive. We hope we can revive it and make it interesting too.”

Saving a historic highway

Smith loves history, and while researching the Oklahoma Range Wars years ago he stumbled upon mentions of the old highway. “Every time I pulled up an article I would read about the Jefferson Highway and forget what I was researching,” he said. Intrigued, he joined the Jefferson Highway Association, served on the board and wrote articles for its newsletter. This year he leads the organization when they meet in Natchitoches.




Louisiana Life may/june 2019

The Jefferson Highway from New Orleans to Shreveport features some of the most photogenic roads in Louisiana, if not the country.

e r e H t r a t S

Alexandria to Shreveport Baton Rouge to Alexandria

New Orleans To Baton Rouge Start in the city’s Central Business District and the astute monument marking the spot at the corner of Common and St. Charles. Travel up Canal Street to City Park and the cemeteries, head west on Metairie Road and connect to Jefferson Highway via the Causeway before continuing west to Kenner. Once inside St. Charles Parish, the highway follows the winding River Road, which takes visitors past numerous plantations and other historic sites, great restaurants and fun accommodations. To stay and/or dine: Visit Houmas House for its 38 landscaped acres and massive historic home but don’t miss the award-winning Latil’s Landing, the elegant Carriage House with its exquisite architecture or a signature cocktail in the Turtle Bar, located inside an original garconniere. To dine: Located right on Jefferson Highway in the heart of Baton Rouge is Dearman’s Soda Shop, which serves up American fare like hamburgers, fries and milkshakes in a retro atmosphere.

After crossing the modern Mississippi River Bridge into Port Allen, follow the old Jefferson Highway by heading west on Highway 76, known as the Rosedale Road. Visitors will cross Bayou Grosse Tete at Rosedale, passing the historic Rosedale Cemetery and several historic homes along the way. Turning north toward Livonia, you’ll pass the old Joe Dreyfus Store which now stands closed. It was, no doubt, a site where folks in Model A Fords paused for a cold soda.

To dine: Not Your Mama’s Cafe in Livonia with its many dining rooms, expansive bar and patio seating attracts tourists and residents alike for its Louisiana seafood. To stay: The majestic Hotel Bentley in downtown Alexandria lorded over the Jefferson Highway in its heyday. Built in 1907, the hotel was a downtown landmark and the place to see and be seen. Today, the magnificent hotel has been lovingly restored and offers a restaurant and the Mirror Room lounge.

Take your time on this stretch and enjoy the unique sites found along the way. Stop at the Grand Encore overlook above Natchitoches, a rare dramatic bluff overlooking the Red River, then roll into Louisiana’s oldest town and soak up the charm that is all Natchitoches. Country music lovers will not want to miss the Louisiana Country Music Museum at the Rebel State Historic Site in Marthaville and history enthusiasts will enjoy the Mansfield Battle Park and Museum, the site of the last major Confederate victory. Remain on the “Mansfield Road” to follow the old Jefferson Highway into downtown Shreveport, where restaurants, casinos and attractions await. To stay: To keep in the historic feel of the day, choose 2439 Fairfield — “a Bed & Breakfast.” Built in 1905, the elegant Victorian colorful inside and out provides the perfect repast on your journey. Plus, there’s a delicious breakfast to get you started on the last leg of the highway. To dine: Shreveport restaurants that date back decades include Herby K’s with its fresh seafood and friendly atmosphere or Eddie’s Restaurant, known for its famous stuffed shrimp.

For More Information visit

JeffersonHighway.org LouisianaLife.com


roadside dining

Serious Shrimp Whether it’s stuffed or busted, shrimp in Shreveport borders on sport by Jyl Benson photo by Romero & Romero

The first time I had the Shrimp

Buster at Herby K’s I could have fallen off of my counter barstool and cracked my head on the floor. It was years ago and I was dining with my friend Chris Jay, public relations and social media manager for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau and tireless proponent for all of the culinary goodness to be found in the area. (Disclosure: Jay is an occasional Louisiana Life contributor.) Shrimp Buster is a platter of large deep-fried Gulf specimens that have been deveined, butterflied, pounded flat and served with a magic potion/sauce atop buttered toasted bread with a side of fries. Herby K’s, a dive to be sure, has been serving this crave-worthy signature dish since 1945, which is probably about the time the place saw its last paint job. Who cares? With grub this good nothing else matters. The Shrimp Buster, a pretty hefty meal, is a bargain for $12.95. A Baby Shrimp Buster is available for $9.95 but life is simply too short for that. Go for the gusto and get the full monty. If you have leftovers you will be happy as you pad to the ‘fridge after them in the middle of the night. Shreveport takes shrimp seriously. Aside from Shrimp Buster, which belongs solely to Herby K’s, the most visible shrimp dish to be found seemingly anywhere, everywhere on the city’s west side, is stuffed shrimp. They look like corndogs and, so beloved are they, as to be featured like porn stars in color photographs adorning the walls of some of the places that serve them. Chris Jay explained to me that the gargantuan shrimp (an oxymoron for sure) dish dates back to the long gone


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

Shrimp Buster at Herby K’s

Inaugural Shreveport Stuffed Shrimp Festival at Eleven Events 1529 Texas Ave. Shreveport 318-510-6759 11building.com Herby K’s 1833 Pierre Ave. Shreveport 318-424-2724 herbyks.net Orlandeaux’s Cafe 4916 Monkhouse Dr. Shreveport 318-635-1641 orlandeauxs.com

good Bets

Freeman and Harris Café, established in 1923 in the 1000 block of Texas Avenue. At the time, the black-owned cafe was one of a small handful where black people could dine. Following the 1993 death of co-owner Pete Harris squabbling broke out among the surviving partners, the competing Pete Harris Café opened, and Freeman and Harris Café closed. When it closed, Freeman and Harris was the oldest continuously-operated, black-owned restaurant in the United States. It was a huge economic and political driver in Shreveport’s black community. Pete Harris Café closed in 2006 and Orlando Chapman, son of co-owner Willie Chapman, opened Brother’s Seafood with, you guessed it, the “original” stuffed shrimp as the menu highlight. He has since renamed the business Orlandeaux’s Cafe. Though copied all over town, some more successfully than others, Orlandeaux’s version of the Freeman and Harris original stuffed shrimp rings in around four inches in length and are fried to a golden crisp. They usually come three to an order ($12.50) but in a pinch one of these monsters will stave off cravings and hunger for the thrifty price of $4.20 (yep). This blissful concoction starts with U10-to-15 count shrimp that are peeled, split, and stuffed with an assertive crabmeat dressing, then rolled in a flour batter before frying. Chef Orlando Chapman serves them with his signature spicy tartar sauce for which he is becoming justifiably well known. The sauce is available in numerous grocery stores throughout northwestern Louisiana. n

Get your fill of those heavenly stuffed shrimp at the Inaugural Shreveport Stuffed Shrimp Festival on, May 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Eleven Events. This family-friendly event will celebrate the unique style of stuffed shrimp that was created and popularized in Shreveport as well as the cultural and historical significance of this beloved regional specialty. The festival will include live musical entertainment, cooking demonstrations, historical presentations, food trucks and more.



great louisiana chef

Comfortably Yum Kraig Dixon puts a twist on New Orleans comfort classics at plant-based restaurant Seed By Alice Phillips portrait by Romero & Romero

Chef Kraig Dixon is a Crescent City native

who grew up with a love of cooking for family and friends. Cooking as a hobby was a way to bring those close to Dixon together in celebration. “My family had restaurants growing up,” Dixon said. “I pretty much grew up in the kitchen. Family events, parties, anything with my family. I’m the guy they call.” When vegan restaurant Seed opened in 2014, however, it was unlike any food he cooked before. “Seed was actually the first experience I had with vegan cooking,” he said. “But, good food is good food. Working here kind of opened my eyes. You don’t necessarily need meat to have a good meal. And, laying off meat has made my body feel different.” The restaurant also works to do its part in protecting the environment by composting through Schmelly’s, which picks up food waste twice a week. Owner Edgar Cooper says in addition, all of the to-go containers are plant fiber, biodegradable or compostable. Dixon says Seed’s menu has selections designed to appeal to every food lover no matter their preferred palate. Golden fried tofu nuggets, mountains of nachos, pad thai and, of course, poor boys are just a handful of the plantbased plates that have satisfied diners since opening. He has come to believe that healthy eating should not have to be complicated. “I’ve seen it’s easier making relatable foods,” Dixon said. “Certain things are easier for people to try. Our nachos and chili cheese fries are things that get people to open up and be willing to try vegan food.” While Dixon is an experienced chef in Seed’s kitchen, menu creation is a group effort. “At the beginning there was a group of people with various ideas,” said Cooper. “We put together a list, did a lot of testing and worked the recipes. We switch out items and add new items by trying to do specials.” Dixon was one of the masterminds behind several specials turned regular menu items. “I would say my favorite thing on the menu is the veggie étouffée,” Dixon said. “You have the same flavor base that gives you the spice as a traditional would, but you still get the enrichment of the vegetables.” Seed plans to finish a catering menu soon in response to demands from satisfied diners. n


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

I would say my favorite thing on the menu is the veggie étouffée. You have the same flavor base that gives you the spice as a traditional would, but you still get the enrichment of the vegetables.

Vegetable Étouffée Roux 2 cups canola oil 2

cups brown rice flour (can substitute all-purpose flour but the brown rice flour makes it gluten free)

Veggie Seasoning 1 cup yellow onion, diced 1 cup celery, diced 1 cup red bell pepper, diced Broth 8 quarts water 4 low sodium bouillon cubes 12 cups strained tomato 1½ cups soy aminos (can substitute soy sauce) 2 bay leaves 1 cup Creole seasoning 2 cups broccoli, cut bite sized 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced 2 cups zucchini, sliced 2 cups corn 2 cups tomato, quartered 1. In a large pot, add 2 cups of canola oil. Once hot, stir in 2 cups of brown rice flour until golden brown. When the roux is golden brown, put the onion, celery and red bell pepper in the pot and sauté for 5 minutes. 2. Once veggies have been sautéed, pour the 8 quarts of water, bouillon, strained tomato, soy aminos, bay leaves and Creole seasoning into the pot and stir until well mixed. Once mixed, add the additional vegetables. 3. Cook down until it starts to thicken — at least 20 minutes.



kitchen gourmet

Heavenly Match 4 shrimp and veggie recipes for a tasty transition into summer by Stanley Dry photo and styling by Eugenia Uhl

This is that magical time of year

when shrimp are in season, gardens are at their peak and farmers markets are overflowing with vegetables. It’s a given that you’ll either harvest or buy more produce than you know what to do with. Someone has suggested that instead of just putting all those vegetables in the refrigerator, we should prep and prepare them, thus ensuring a supply of meals and snacks for days to come. It’s a great idea, but I’m rarely that well organized. I wish I was, because it’s wonderful to open the fridge and have something to eat that only needs to be reheated or, better yet, something that can be eaten cold, such as gazpacho, which can constitute a meal in itself. The recipes this month feature seasonal vegetables and shrimp, America’s favorite seafood. Shrimp prices vary greatly due to a number of factors — size, heads on or off, peeled or in the shell, fresh or frozen, for example. The largest shrimp bring the highest price, but the big ones aren’t always the best choice. It depends on what you’re going to do with them. If you’re grilling, you want shrimp of a decent size, though not necessarily the largest. Gumbos, étouffées and stews typically call for medium-size shrimp and other dishes, such as salads, often are made with small shrimp. Those designations — large, medium, small — are very imprecise, and there is a wide range of sizes within those categories. You will sometimes see signs or labels that specify how many shrimp are in a pound (called the count), such as U10 (under 10 shrimp per pound), 26/30 (26-30 shrimp per pound), 41/50, and so on. The following recipes specify shrimp that fall into the “small” category, though you can certainly use larger sizes if you prefer. n


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

Shrimp Gazpacho It’s tough to beat a bowl of ice cold gazpacho on a hot day. I think of it as a garden in a bowl. The shrimp add another dimension. A large bowl is surprisingly filling. Keep a container of this in the fridge, and when you don’t feel like cooking you won’t have to. Heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 clove garlic (peeled and crushed) in a skillet until garlic browns. Remove and discard garlic. Add 2 slices country bread about 4x2 inches each and brown on both sides. Working in batches, add bread, 4 medium tomatoes (roughly chopped), 1 cucumber (peeled and roughly chopped), 1 red bell pepper (seeded and roughly chopped), ¼ red onion (peeled and roughly chopped), 1½ cups tomato juice, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and ½ cup bottled clam juice to a blender and puree. Combine puree with 1 cup cooked small shrimp (peeled) in a storage container and season to taste with coarse salt and hot hot sauce. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Adjust seasonings. Serve ice cold garnished with 1 tablespoon snipped chives and, if desired, a ribbon of olive oil. Makes 4-6 servings.

Toasted or grilled bread rubbed with a garlic clove and drizzled with olive oil is a nice accompaniment.

Shrimp And Avocado Salad

Shrimp Tacos

A mustard vinaigrette is an exceptionally versatile concoction that can be used to season salads, vegetables, eggs, meat, fish or poultry. Combined with shrimp and avocado, it makes a bracing salad. 1 pound cooked small shrimp, peeled 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cubed 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and chopped 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Tacos are best when they’re eaten as soon as they’re made, right there in the kitchen. You can lay out the ingredients and let everyone make their own. Just make sure that the tortillas are hot and the beer cold. 1 cup chopped tomato 1 cup chopped onion 2 serrano peppers, stemmed and chopped 2 avocados, peeled, seeded and cubed 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Coarse salt to taste

coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pound small shrimp, peeled

cayenne pepper to taste

2 tablespoons Cajun/Creole seasoning

lettuce leaves

corn tortillas

1 tablespoon chopped green onion tops

lime wedges

1 teaspoon chopped parsley 1. Combine shrimp, avocado and egg in a mixing bowl. 2. In another bowl, whisk oil, vinegar and mustard until emulsified. Pour over shrimp, avocado and egg and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and peppers. 3. Cover plates with lettuce leaves, mound salad on them and garnish with onion tops and parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Cold Cucumber, Shrimp & Radish Soup

1. To make salsa, combine tomato, onion, pepper, avocado and lime juice in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and toss gently to combine. 2. Put shrimp and Cajun/Creole seasoning in a pot, cover with water and place over high heat. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and leave shrimp in water for one minute. Drain, but do not rinse. 3. Heat tortillas. Fill hot tortillas with shrimp and salsa and add a squeeze of lime. Makes 6 or more servings.

Puree 2 cups chicken broth and 2 large cucumbers (peeled and chopped) in blender. Add 2 tablespoons plain yogurt and pulse to blend. Transfer to a storage container and season to taste with coarse salt. Add 4 radishes (sliced paper thin) and ¹/³ cup cooked small shrimp (peeled) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve ice cold garnished with fresh dill. Makes 4 servings.




Louisiana Life september/october 2018




Louisiana Life may/june 2019




Traveling Around Louisiana

Summer Fun Fun is warming up across Louisiana this

season—festivals highlight the best of the state, applauding community, food, music and more. From Louisiana’s sweet corn and juicy peaches to slow-roasted cochon de lait, the state’s agricultural offerings call for delicious seasonal celebrations that satisfy your appetites for both food and fun. Arts and music abound, too, with events that feature fine arts, unique crafts, Cajun music, country music and more. From heartthumping, stadium-sized concerts to small carnivals, quiet art museums and bustling art markets, escape into the healing worlds of art and music as you let the good times roll with family and friends. Pull out your calendar for May and June and fill your weekends with trips to any and all of Louisiana’s exciting, early-summer events. Wherever you head, know you’re in good hands—a medical spotlight highlights the latest news from some of Louisiana’s expert local healthcare providers. Cities & Parishes Avoyelles Parish overflows with opportunities for lovers of food and music at its annual festivals, and spring and summer bring much of the fun. Cajun Crossroads Festival in Hessmer takes place May 3-4. That weekend, Paragon Casino Resort hosts 38 Special in concert on May 4. Then, the “Cochon de Lait Capitale of the World” hosts the 45th annual Cochon de Lait Festival in downtown Mansura on Mother’s Day Weekend (May 9-12). The Tunica Biloxi Tribe of LA invites you to the 24th Annual Tunica Biloxi PowWow (May 18-19) at the Alcide Pierite Pow-Wow grounds on the Tunica Biloxi Reservation. Visit TunicaPowWow.org for details. In June, Bunkie hosts the 33rd Annual Louisiana Corn Festival ( June 13-15) at the Haas Auditorium and festival grounds with corny contests, live music, Louisiana food, and a carnival. Louisiana’s longest running 4th of July Celebration and the Avoyelles Arts and Music Festival take place July 4 in downtown Marksville. This family fest is free to the public. Visit TravelAvoyelles.com or Travel Avoyelles on Facebook for a complete listing of events.


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Ruston Peach Festival

Central Louisiana is a little-known art lover’s paradise. The Alexandria Museum of Art (AMOA) is a world-class museum hosting a permanent collection with 800 pieces, including prominent 20th and 21st Century Louisiana and Southern artists. AMOA host a variety of exhibits throughout the year and currently features Sordid & Sacred: The Beggars in Rembrandt’s

Etchings and Concrete & Adrift: On the Poverty Line through June 22. In November, The Pelican State Goes to War: Louisiana in World War II will go on display. River Oaks Square Arts Center (ROSAC) is another important piece of Central Louisiana’s artistic allure. ROSAC provides a variety of educational programs and hosts three galleries of contemporary


visual art and fine crafts as well as a gallery gift shop with gifts from over 200 artists. A particularly unique attribute of ROSAC is the artist-in-residence program currently hosting 35 artists. Performing arts also abound in Central Louisiana with Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center, Kress Theater, Lagniappe Theater Company, and Louisiana College all hosting live performances throughout the year. To learn more or plan your trip, visit AlexandriaPinevilleLA.com or call 800-551-9546. It’s peach season in Ruston and Lincoln Parish! Mark your calendars for the 69th Annual Louisiana Peach Festival happening June 21-22 in downtown Ruston. The weekend will be filled with live entertainment, activities for the kids and families, arts and crafts, a downtown parade, and of course, savory peach treats. Come early for free admission noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, June 21. Returning this year is Peach Restaurant Week happening June 17-23. Visit local restaurants for delectable peach dishes only available the week of the Louisiana Peach Festival. Items include coffees and teas, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, cocktails, specialty desserts, and so much more. Don’t forget to add a trip to Mitcham

Peach Farm to your itinerary. Ice cream made from Louisiana’s sweetest peaches is only available during the summer. For more information about Ruston or to plan your trip to the Louisiana Peach Festival, visit ExperienceRuston.com. In America’s City on the River, you’ll experience authentic Louisiana sights, sounds, and tastes at every turn. Centrally located—just an hour from New Orleans and Lafayette—Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the perfect city to experience the sounds of rich southern soul harmonizing with a medley of art, community, and 300 years of history. Take advantage of the walkable downtown while exploring venues and attractions such as the Old and New State Capitols. Enjoy an array of culinary experiences that will immerse your taste buds in authentic Louisiana cuisine. With an ever-growing restaurant scene to choose from, you can enjoy everything from local dives to delicious, new restaurants highlighting classic Southern fare. After a big meal, dance it off to the sounds of Baton Rouge—jazz, zydeco, swamp-pop—with live performances almost every night. On May 25-26, Baton Rouge’s Tiger Stadium welcomes Bayou Super Country Fest, which features Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean,

and Florida Georgia Line alongside many more nationally acclaimed country superstars. For more information, head to VisitBatonRouge.com or call 1-800-LA-ROUGE. Louisiana Medical Spotlight The Wellness Center of Thibodaux Regional, located in Lafourche Parish, is changing the health of the community. The Center offers WellFit, which integrates wellness into clinical care. WellFit is an eightweek, physician-referred program that offers a customized plan for improving an individual’s health and well-being. Participants receive nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian along with fitness education and unlimited access to the Center’s Fitness Center. Smoking cessation options, physical therapy, and behavioral health screenings are also available if needed. “The goal of WellFit is to help people live the highest quality, most active lifestyle possible,” says Education and Training Coordinator, Katie Richard, MA, BSN, RN. Physician specialists helped to shape the WellFit pathways. “We want people to feel that their unique needs are being met and that their doctor was a part of the process,” says Richard. Call 985-493-4765 for more information or visit Thibodaux.com.

Baton Rouge




With rugged mountains, quiet plains, active cities, and quiet towns, Arkansas offers

a variety of experiences for travelers seeking fun in the great outdoors, one-of-a-kind learning experiences, delicious Southern food, and a vibrant arts, crafts, and music scene. From kayaking along river bluffs to catching collegiate sports games, exploring the nation’s history through Arkansas’s historical figures, or sipping wine at a cuttingedge restaurant, Arkansas delivers with unforgettable experiences just a short drive from Louisiana.



Louisiana Life may/june 2019

Eureka Springs Secluded, mountainside Eureka Springs is uniquely enchanting. Its entire downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places and offers block after block of one-of-akind shops, boutiques, fine art galleries, craft emporiums, spas, museums and restaurants. Diverse festivals and events bring visitors year-round to its historic hotels, bed and breakfasts, and cabins. Nestled in the heart of the Ozarks, outdoor adventures abound—the area is known for excellent trout fishing, camping, water sports, biking and hiking opportunities.


Conway Conway offers the charm of a small town with the amenities of a larger city. Located along Interstate 40, Conway is home to three institutions of higher learning, and regularly hosts college level sporting events and national traveling performances. For an unforgettable evening, enjoy a performance by the state’s only professional Shakespeare Theatre, then dine at an authentic Eastern European farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of bustling downtown.

Little Rock Little Rock will surprise you with its new Southern style. They city’s acclaimed food and drink scene offers funky diners, fine restaurants, breweries and wineries, while its cultural and historic allure makes it a history lover’s classroom with places like the Little Rock Central High National Historic Site, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and a variety of museums. Little Rock’s abundance of outdoor activities include kayaking, paddling, mountain and road biking, rock climbing, hiking and much more.

Arkansas Arkansas is more than just a state. It’s a state of mind. From the Ozarks to the Delta, the Natural State offers unique attractions unavailable anywhere else. See one-of-a-kind museums, peaceful mountain views, and experience the tranquility of floating the Buffalo River. You can even dig for diamonds and keep what you find. Endless opportunities for family fun are waiting for you. Go to Arkansas.com to download your travel guide today.




HOME OF THE HAYRIDE Today’s performers bring new life to a stage made sacred by pioneers of country, western, blues and rock By Paul F. Stahls Jr. photo by SHANNON PALMER

Odds are the edifice often called

Louisiana’s finest structure of the Art Deco era would never have been built had Shreveport dragged its feet. By luck, though, the three-year task of erecting the city’s Municipal Auditorium was complete (not yet even dedicated) when the Stock Market crash of 1929 halted major municipal-funded construction projects for a generation. Thanks to that good timing and to 10 years of restoration projects begun in 1994, the splendid structure stands today as a National Historic Landmark, a worldwide top-200 performance venue (Pollstar Magazine, 2018) and, once again, a major downtown attraction. The events that comprise its story are best described by guides during the building’s Backstage Tours (shreveportmunicipalauditorium.com, 318-8414196), but the place is impressive even at a distance. Imagine a single facility whose raison d’être was a salute to the soldiers of World War I, whose very creation was an adventure (its exotic bricks, tiles, ironwork and enormous windows all created onsite) and whose basement housed newfangled, topsecret radio/radar gear for protecting nearby Barksdale Army Airfield during World War II and, well in advance of D-Day, for gathering worldwide intelligence in anticipation of the U.S. invasion of Europe. Peacetime brought a variety of functions to “the Municipal” (as locals call it), from “showbiz wrestling” to cotillions, from variety acts to Broadway shows, but its focus soon narrowed to KWKH radio broadcaster W.K. Henderson’s famous Louisiana Hayride and its history-making mission: finding, polishing and introducing dozens of singers and musicians of the 1940s and ’50s whose names are still remembered. Many of those would also include stints at the Grand Ole Opry along their routes to greatness, but the Hayride richly deserves its nickname of “Cradle of the Stars.”


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

go Exploring downtown Shreveport along Texas Street and its parallels, from the Municipal Auditorium to the riverfront, can reward visitors in

many ways, and a stop at the nearby Welcome Center (629 Spring St., 318-2229391, shreveportbossier.org) can provide sightseeing suggestions plus live music schedules (including the almost constant calendar of events at Festival Plaza, 101 Crockett St.).

Ask also about stage and screen presentations at three unique theaters — the Robinson Film Center with its foreign and indie movies plus highlypraised bistro (617 Texas, 318-459-4122); the opulent Strand at 619 Louisiana (318-226-8555, once flagship of the Saenger chain);

and Louisiana’s only “IMAX Dome” (riverfront, 318-424-3466). Artspace at 708 Texas is the Regional Arts Council’s center for every form of fine arts (318-673-6535, artspaceshreveport. com), and at 416 Texas stands a statue of Caddo Parish’s prolific composer


and master of the 12-string guitar, Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter (“Goodnight Irene,” “Rock Island Line”), a frequent employee in the St. Paul’s Bottoms Red Light District which, incidentally, inspired visitor Jellyroll Morton’s “Shreveport Stomp.”

Facing Red River, the statue of Henry Miller Shreve (steamboat man and town founder) is surrounded by a cluster of family attractions like the Shreveport Aquarium (318-383-0601, shreveportaquarium. com), the Corps of Engineers’ Grand

Ecore Visitor Center (318-354-8770) and Sci-Port’s Exploration Gallery and Space Dome Planetarium (318-424-3466, sci-port.org). Mealtimes bring opportunities to enjoy memorable downtown restaurants like the Noble Savage Tavern

with its music, spirits and good food (417 Texas, 318-2211781), the bountiful bistro called Market 104 (in the Hilton at 104 Market, 318-698-0900) or Ernest’s Orleans, where dining and dancing have been popular since the ’50s (601 N. Spring, 318-226-1325).

Fronting the auditorium and its grand entry steps at 705 Elvis Presley Ave., where the tours begin, are statues of Elvis and world-acclaimed guitarist James Burton of Shreveport (now 80), who was the preferred backup musician for virtually every known singer of the day, boasting credits on more than 500 albums and innumerable personal and broadcast appearances. Inside, visitors soon learn that the Municipal’s wartime contribution was impressive to say the least, and stories like Mary Martin’s “Peter Pan” soaring across its glorious stage can capture the imagination, but the Louisiana Hayride remains the true legacy of the place. Think of Hank Williams who gave Louisiana our “Jambalaya” anthem, and his “Cold, Cold Heart” which turned hillbilly into country. Or Bob Wills who transformed the singing cowboy tradition to Western swing. Think of the era-changing moment in 1954 when Elvis stunned the Hayride crowd with “That’s Alright Mama,” from the flipside of his “Blue Moon of Kentucky” 45, the disk that combined Delta blues and bluegrass to create rock ’n’ roll. He went national in 1955, when the Hayride was televised, and quickly earned credit (or blame) for the flood of rock that would push country off the pop charts. Thus ended the Hayride in 1960 (although Henderson would use the name for “packaged music tours” throughout the ’60s), but many of those scenes and sounds survive in films like 1947’s “Louisiana” (a Jimmie Davis bio) and 2016’s “I Saw the Light” (Hank Williams’ Shreveport days). “At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight” – the 2019 Grammy-nominated 20-CD boxed set of 561 original Hayride performances – is available at amazon.com. An interesting variety of music and other entertainment fills the Municipal’s calendar these days, and the Backstage Tours take visitors through the entire building, from the lounge and makeup rooms of the stars to the heights of the theater (where Peter Pan launched that flight), to the stage itself with its vintage but thoroughly-updated sound system that treats tour-takers to the voice of Marvin Gaye, whose immortal “You’ve Been a Long Time Coming”was inspired by a nearby hotel’s refusal to register the star on the night of his local performance. Pure nostalgia fills the Municipal’s museum rooms and the guides are entertaining and informative, but most visitors will agree the highlight is standing on the wide stage themselves as the live recording of “That’s Alright Mama” fills the vast auditorium with the voice of young Elvis Presley, changing the Louisiana Hayride and the world forever. n



farther flung

Big Fun in Little Rock History, culture, nature and good times abound in Arkansas’ capital By Cheré Coen

The first time I visited Little Rock, the

hotel desk clerk — an evacuee from Hurricane Katrina who landed in Arkansas’ capital when he headed north and finally found a place to stay — enthusiastically greeted me. After we exchanged those familiar New Orleans greetings of “Where’d you live?” and “Who’s your family?” he assured me he loved his new town, that Little Rock was a happening place. Then I met Anita Davis, who after spending her life collecting purses opened the ESSE Purse Museum in the city’s hip South Main (SoMa) neighborhood. Davis has become one of the neighborhood’s champions, having created the Bernice Garden on the corner of Main Street and Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive, named for a Little Rock civil rights leader and mentor of the Little Rock Nine.


Louisiana Life may/june 2019

Davis’s museum, dedicated to women’s history through the gender’s most important accessory, is one of many cool businesses located there. Little Rock offers plenty of history, from colony times to the Civil Rights Movement to Pres. Bill Clinton, but it’s bursting with new attractions, businesses and opportunities. Like I was told years ago, it’s a happening place that grows with excitement every year.

What’s new

In 1957, with federal troops at their side, nine African American students became the first of their race to attend the all-white Little Rock Central High School. Today, students of all races attend the school but it’s also a National Historic Site, telling the story of the Little Rock Nine. Tours by reservation with

National Park Service rangers allow visitors inside the school, now part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. Renovations have only improved the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, named for Little Rock native Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Museum exhibits detail the state’s military heritage from its territorial period to the present, all located inside the historic Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal, the birthplace of MacArthur.

Get outside

Natural beauty surrounds the city, with Hot Springs and the Ouachita Mountains a short drive to the west and the Ozarks north and northwest. Closer to home is the newly established Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area,

MARK YOUR CALENDAR The Arkansas Cornbread Festival continues to grow each year, perhaps because cornbread remains a staple of every Southerner’s diet. This year’s event — featuring music, vendors and lots of cornbread tastings — will be Saturday, Oct. 26, on South Main Street.

Walkabout South Main the Esse Purse Museum & Store Within lies every type, shape and style of purse, but above the permanent exhibit lies a fascinating timeline of women’s history. The museum offers changing exhibits, and this year will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts and conclude 2019 with a display of hats.

Root Café

The Clinton Presidential Center and Park

located between the Big Maumelle and Little Maumelle Rivers and home to rare plant and animal species. Hike during daylight hours to its highest point and view dramatic sights of the rivers and Pinnacle Mountain.


The Clinton Presidential Center and Park not only showcases the life and presidency of Arkansas native William J. Clinton — including the exact replica of Clinton’s Oval Office, — it’s also home of the Little Rock offices of the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum and the Clinton School of Public Service, the first U.S. institution to offer a Master of Public Service degree. Next door to the Clinton Library is the Heifer International Center, which showcases


Heifer’s work helping millions of families in more than 125 countries improve their quality of life and become more self-reliant. The visitor’s center features interactive fun while teaching about global assistance and sustainability. Don’t miss a tour of the building, which received a platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Enjoy live music, sample Gus’ famous Memphis fried chicken or pause in the Little Rock sculpture garden within the River Market district in the heart of downtown. It’s a lively scene of retail, restaurants and special events happening along the Arkansas River. Be sure to grab a bike or hike the Arkansas River Trail, ending your excursion at dusk to view the lighted downtown bridges. For more information on Little Rock, visit littlerock.com. n

Arkansas corn, wheat and rye produce the spirits at Rock Town Distillery, the first legal distillery in Arkansas since Prohibition. Visitors can tour the distillery and taste their spirits, from a vodka distilled several times to a hickory-smoked whiskey. Rock Town’s moonshine in several flavors offers a nice kick, but the Arkansas Lightning at 110 proof will knock your socks off.

The Root Café, which serves up exquisite dishes — we’re still dreaming about the incredible breakfasts — comprised of locally produced foods. If time isn’t an issue, stay for one of the café’s many activities, from live music to February’s SoMardi Gras parade followed by the annual Beard and Mustache Contest.

SoMa neighborhood Hip new businesses join the SoMa neighborhood every year, including Electric Ghost that specializes in local home goods, the Green Corner Store with environmentally friendly products, Reinvented Vintage upcycle store that includes classes by local artisans and South Main Creative, an urban twist on the traditional antique mall.

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a louisiana life

Fashionable Philanthropy Shreveport native Latasha Henderson uses fashion design to give back to her community By Megan Hill portrait by romero & romero

shreveport native and fashion designer

Latasha Henderson says she grew up “less fortunate.” Her mother dressed her in hand-medowns to save money and she says the other kids bullied her for it. By age 10 or 11, Henderson was customizing the secondhand items and finding her own style. Henderson’s first fashion gig was an internship at age 15 with Los Angeles-based DaDa Footwear. “I used to buy with my allowance different fashion magazines, and I remember seeing DaDa Footwear’s ads,” she says. Henderson wrote letters to them three days a week, asking for a job. Finally, months later, a representative from the company called, offering an internship. The company flew her to Los Angeles on breaks and holidays to work. The internship ignited Henderson’s altruism: DaDa sent her boxes of shoes and she gave them away to people in need. After high school, Henderson moved to California to attend The Art Institute of California-Los Angeles and Santa Monica College. The going was tough, as both of her parents died within six months of each other. Henderson experienced bouts of homelessness as she balanced three or four jobs at a time. Eventually, things turned around. She met her husband Dennis Robinson and together, they started accessory and apparel company VonRay Designs, which gained recognition when in 2011, music producer Randy Jackson wore one of the company’s pendants on “American Idol.” Henderson also appeared on Season 15 of Bravo’s “Project Runway.” She didn’t win, but she became an audience favorite. Henderson continues to give back, organizing giveaways of clothes, hygiene products and school supplies locally. She also travels frequently to Africa for runway shows and donation drives. She strives to someday open her own manufacturing business and base it in the U.S. “I want to help smaller, up-and-coming brands like ours,” she says. “We source all of our fabric from Fair Trade producers. I want to make sure that everything I do, I’m giving back to someone. That’s my ultimate goal: to heal the world.” n 64

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I want to help smaller and up-and-coming brands like ours.