Spirits Of Louisiana

Brad Goins Thursday, October 28, 2021 Comments Off on Spirits Of Louisiana
Spirits Of Louisiana

By 2021 featured artist Kathy Tate Davis

There will be an evening of “tastings and libations” at the Spirits of Louisiana event at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol at 100 North  Boulevard in Baton Rouge. Festivities will begin at 6:30 pm on Thursday, Oct. 28. 

Heirloom Cuisine will cater the affair. Numerous local distilleries will provide tastings. Guests are invited to “come dressed as the ‘spirit’ moves” them. Guests must be 21 or older to attend. Tickets are $85 at Eventbrite.

Melrose Folk Art Festival

If you’re looking for a reason to get out of Lake Charles for a short time, go on the 2 1/2 hour drive up to the Melrose Plantation in Natchitoches Parish and take a stroll around the Melrose Folk Art Festival, which will take place on Saturday Oct. 9, 10 am through 5 pm and Sunday, Oct. 10, 10 am through 4 pm, with the rain date the following weekend.

Melrose Plantation is a 200-year-old historic house museum. The modern development of the house was overseen by Fanny Herzog, who was the sister of the Herzog brothers, Henry and Hypolite, who bought the plantation in 1847. She brought about the creation of the plantation’s big house, expanding the building’s original two rooms into eight. 

Melrose was one of those Louisiana places that did not escape the ferocity of the Civil War. In fact, Union and Confederate forces fought back and forth over the mansion’s grounds, sometimes taking the fight all the way to the building’s front door.

After the war, Fanny Herzog established the Melrose Freedman school so that the children of former slaves could be educated.

In the 20th century, the site became home to the Melrose artists’ retreat that was founded by Carmelite Garrett Henry. Today Melrose has the largest collection of paintings by Clementine Hunter, a Melrose cook who eventually became one of the country’s best-known primitive artists.

A National Historic Landmark,  Melrose Plantation’s nine historic buildings include the African House, the Yucca House, the Weaving Cabin, the Bindery and, of course, the Big House.  Hunter’s paintings, including her highly prized murals, are always available for viewing.

Find Melrose Plantation at 3533 Highway 119; call at  (318) 379-0055. You can also visit melroseplantation.org. Admission for the festival is $5 for adults and $2 for children 6 through 11.

Housing Post-Ida

Lafayette’s The Current recently reported the following: 

“Hundreds of tenants in Houma were told without warning that [they were] being evicted from their apartments due to storm damage after Ida.”

The magazine said that hotel rooms “everywhere” were booked and that housing markets in the area “are tapped out after 2020’s real estate boom.” This leaves the displaced residents competing for hotels rooms with “traveling linemen” and for over-priced apartments with families displaced by Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

“Rooms are becoming available in Lafayette — but slowly,” stated Lafayette’s Hospitality Hub. The Current opined that “longer term housing remains scarce.”

The Current quoted Houma evacuee Lori Claud as saying, “all the hotels in New Orleans are booked. There’s no hotels here in Houma. There’s nothing in Thibodaux. There’s nothing in Lafourche Parish. There’s nothing in Lafayette.”

What does all this means for us? It means that however bad our housing crunch in Lake Charles is, it’s going to get worse.

Wild Trees Exhibit

The Teche Center for the Arts in Breaux Bridge will host the group exhibit Wild Trees II through Nov. 2. A talk by Lynda Frese, artist and curator, will be held on Oct. 21 at 6 pm.

Art by Lynda Frese

The art exhibit includes painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture by these Louisiana artists: Brandon Ballengée, Jacqueline Bishop, Lynda Frese, Marla Kristicevich, Chris Pavlik, Olivia Perillo and Russell Whiting.

The exhibit addresses environmental issues, including issues related to climate change, and the idea of “plant sentience.” Artists have considered such questions as: Do trees have consciousness? Can they somehow communicate with us? 

Artist Frese opened her exhibition Wild Trees: Paintings and Photo Etchings at the Teche Center in 2020, but it was closed within days due to COVID-19. Rather than repeat what she did in 2020, Frese invited other artists to participate with her by showing work that followed her theme. Frese says, “these artists inspire me, because their work engages us to think about complex environmental and ethical issues … The artworks celebrate our own ecosystem while asking questions about its survival.”

The Teche Center is located at 210 E. Bridge St. in Breaux Bridge. Guests are asked to wear a mask. The center’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm. Call (337) 442-1915 or email info@techecenterforthearts.com for more information.

Hurricane Victim Ignores Syllabus

Many students of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette were shocked when the school required its students to return to school immediately after the end of Hurricane Ida. The university’s Tweet to this effect brought about a fair amount of backlash. 

Dalton Melancon, a junior in public relations, told the school’s newspaper The Vermilion that he was in New Orleans when Hurricane Ida hit. “We had to put trash cans in our living room and dining room because the leaks were bad,” Melancon said. He said school was the last thing on his mind. 

As for the university’s response, Melancon said, “I felt appalled. I emailed all of my professors about my situation: how I was stuck in New Orleans during a Category 4 hurricane. Only one of them understood and excused me from class.” One professor even told him that he “should drop the course, as other students have the ability to attend the class. My class requires attendance, as I stated before [in my syllabus].” 

Melancon said the university should “accommodate people better to avoid this from happening again. Some serious PR work would benefit them in the future … It was almost impossible for some students to return to school so quickly.”


The MARC, or Multi-Agency Resource Center, is located at 3615 East Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles. MARC is a place where area agencies and organizations provide youth with services and referrals to these services.

These referrals are used to help keep at-risk youth 6 through 17 out of the juvenile justice system and get them into helpful programs that provide services they need.

The MARC also offers a non-threatening, inclusive atmosphere to parents and young people who are not at-risk but are simply looking for information about such things as community services or ways to work through a crisis in the family.

“The hope is families have access to the support they need before they become involved in the juvenile justice system,” said Josh Campbell, assistant director of the Office of Juvenile Justice Services.

In the 10 years since MARC opened its doors, it has served more than 13,000 families and kept more than 11,000 youths out of court.

By pooling its resources, the MARC reduces the length of time youth must wait to get access to community services from several months to a few hours. Youth involved in criminal activity can take advantage of a secure intake area staffed by MARC personnel. This reduces the amount of time they spend in the custody of law enforcement. Said Anthony Celestine, OJJS director, “the MARC is now the blueprint nationally for juvenile assessment centers.”

 The MARC is a collaborative effort between the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the Calcasieu Parish Children and Youth Planning Board. It is part of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s Office of Juvenile Justice Services. To learn more about the MARC, visit calcasieuparish.gov/MARC.

What Goes In Gumbo?

Cassandra Young

Given the difficulty of these times, I guess I should avoid the big, serious topics — like whether McNeese should play games during the day — and focus on something a little lighter, such as Gov. Edwards’ suggestion that it might be OK to put potato salad in gumbo.

The Advocate called it the “debate heard ‘round Louisiana.” The newspaper invited readers to let them know “what you like in your gumbo that to others may be controversial.” The Advocate staff mentioned sweet potatoes and okra.

Emma Discher, the assistant editor of the newspaper’s digital edition Tweeted, “OK, we’re getting to the bottom of this. Does potato salad go in gumbo? Or not?”

Since the Advocate wants me to pay for its stories, I’ll never read the one they wrote about what goes in gumbo. If anyone is interested in my opinion, they should know rice is one of my favorite foods. I’ll eat it all by itself. I’ll put it in just about everything. So of course, I’ll put in gumbo. I don’t have to think it over.

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