A Boozy Experience

admin Thursday, May 2, 2024 Comments Off on A Boozy Experience
A Boozy Experience









Bags & Brew Cornhole Tournament

I’ve learned that men in their late thirties spend a lot of time talking about the good ol’ days when they could dribble a ball, swing a bat and get out of bed without pulling a muscle. Trying to relive those glory days, the guys signed up for a cornhole tournament and we tagged along.

We’re starting this round of In My Experience at one of my favorite Lake Area spots: Crying Eagle-University. And this time it’s for a good cause. The beer drinking, pizza eating and bag throwing, it’s all for the kids. Big Brothers Big Sisters of SWLA’s Bags & Brew Cornhole Tournament is in its fourth year and this year was the biggest year yet with an impressive $30,000 raised thanks to 103 teams duking it out.

It’s not every day you see a CEO dressed as corn, but Erin Davison isn’t an everyday CEO. “Our fourth Bags & Brew Cornhole tournament was a huge success. I’m so thankful and we already have fun things planned for next year,” said Davison. 

It was a beautiful day for a tournament with the 10 boards set up right in front of the stage and dj. The game was organized and run off of an app, which I thought was cool and made keeping up with all of the teams easy. Our poor husbands knew they were in for some serious competition when we spotted a few kids wearing cornhole jerseys with sponsors on them.

The first few rounds of the game were round robin games. I don’t even know if I’m using that term correctly, honestly. My friend taught it to me at the tournament and I’ve been trying to find ways to slip it into casual conversation ever since. For those of you who are as athletically challenged as I am, apparently a round robin is a set of games played to determine ranking before beginning the actual game. A dress rehearsal, if you will. Each team played two dress rehearsals and then it was time for the actual tournament to begin.

I wish I could explain cornhole to you. I’ve played it many times and still get confused about who throws first and what covers and what doesn’t. Google it, you’ll be better off. I had a few (no one’s counting) pours of Crying Eagle’s Belgian ale, which was delicious. Because I’m all about vibes and aesthetics, I asked to have my beer poured in a fancy glass. The tournament was single elimination, and Marvin and his teammate did well until they played against the kids in the jerseys. Then it was all over.

After the tournament, the band Paper Airplanes performed so we hung out and enjoyed the show. The band was having a quasi-coming out of retirement gig. They played seven of their original songs -which you can find on Spotify- and a cover of Zombie. Back when my husband and his friends were at Sulphur High, they were big fans of the Paper Airplanes, so it was nostalgic for them.

There was a great crowd and even though he didn’t win at cornhole, Marvin didn’t walk away empty handed. He and his teammate won “Shuckiest Team Name.” (Love a good pun.) What was their name, you ask? Prestige Worldwide. I guess the organizers have never seen the movie Step Brothers.

Live @ the Lakefront

The following weekend we got blessed with more great weather for Live @ the Lakefront, a family-friendly, free outdoor concert with a ton of food trucks, jumpy houses and great vendors.

Not long after we arrived the Barbe choir was on stage. I’m going to out myself here and tell you I wasn’t thrilled about watching a high school choir perform. I don’t know why, but I was expecting long, white cassocks and teenagers lined up in rows singing “Alleluia.” What we actually got were five ultra-talented teenagers jamming out to 80s and 90s hits. I think they were my favorite performers of the night and everyone else I spoke to said the same thing. I hit up JJ’s Jammin food truck and ordered 60 chicken nuggets, three large fries, chicken and sausage jambalaya, fried chicken wings, a 16 oz. New York Strip, garlic rosemary potatoes, corn, collard greens and spicy cabbage. You might be thinking that’s a lot of food and you’d be right. Remember we have five kids and they each come with a bottomless pit. The food was excellent and Jobe, owner of JJ’s, passed my 13-year-old daughter samples of both his peach mango kool-aid and strawberry pineapple lemonade. She was very impressed by both.

My bud Kris St James, morning radio show host for 96-1 KYKZ, was emceeing. I’ve been joining Kris on-air every Friday at 9 am to share what’s new in Lagniappe. I’ve been having a blast pretending to be a radio DJ.

The kids were rolling down the hill over and over before we walked down to Millennium Park for a bit. I love going to events like Live @ the Lakefront. Because of how open the area is, the kids can run around without being in anyone’s way and Marvin and I can actually enjoy ourselves. 

I had a few beers purely for philanthropic purposes as all beverage sales benefit the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA. At around 8 pm, I let the kids get their faces painted and pick one thing from the vendors. My younger girls all chose paint sets from Paint and Fire, and my oldest daughter chose a necklace. Marvin grabbed a latte from the Village’s cute, baby blue food truck and the kids had Kona Ice-which they spilled all over their clothes and then complained about how sticky their hands were. I would like to officially petition for all snow cones to forevermore be flat tops. Why are we handing children mounds of sticky flavored ice? Help us all.

Rum Revival 

As soon as I saw Rum Revival was “a celebration of the Gulf Coast’s colorful ties to the Caribbean” I knew I needed to be there. My ties to the Caribbean are pretty strong; my dad is from Cuba and my mom is from Puerto Rico. Rum Revival was held at Golden Nugget’s green event space which is near the pool and my mom was my date.

It was another great weather day, minus the strong wind that kept kicking my hair into my lip gloss. There were white tents set up around the property and a stage where Bonerama, a brass band from New Orleans, performed. Four of the band members had trombones and they played Fats Domino like it was their j-o-b. I immediately ran to Instagram and started following them.

My friend Reinel, master distiller at Bayou Rum, was there. Some of you may remember him from a previous column. When I visited Bayou Rum, Reinel taught me a ton about rum-making and rum-enjoying. We caught up a bit and he suggested my mom and I go over and sample Flor de Cana. It was great, but honestly everything at the event was.

It was great to hear so many people speaking Spanish throughout the night. I met Nicky Del Castillo Hyatt, a Panamanian Sulphur resident, and it was so nice chatting with her and her husband in Spanish.

“Seeing all the local restaurants and distilleries putting a Caribbean spin on their food and drinks definitely showed how there is a strong culinary connection between the two regions. I even found some Panamanian rum,” said Nicky Del Castillo Hyatt. “I think my favorite part was all of the delicious bites that reminded me of home.”

I shuffled my mom to the Don Q, a Puerto Rican rum brand, tent which was tucked away near the lazy river. Don Q is one of my mom’s favorites. She usually drinks it with lime and sprite over ice. This tent was my favorite of the entire night. They served two drinks, one was an old fashioned and the other was a mixed drink they made with orange Don Q. They gave my mom a Puerto Rican flag pin which was so incredibly sweet.

Area337’s Gus Garden served a 114-pound pig that he started cooking at 8 am. The pig was beyond delicious and was gone in one-hour flat. Seeing the pig cooking brought back great childhood memories for me. On Noche Buena it was a family tradition for my dad, uncles and grandfather to work together to cook a lechon.

In 2023, United Way received $27,500 from Rum Revival. Nathaniel Allured, executive director, told me there were over 500 people in attendance this year and that S&B Events is projecting 2025 will have sellout crowds.

S&B Events is a non-profit whose mission is to produce great events while raising funding for worthy charities. “We intend to create value for our community by continuing to grow and innovate our event lineup, but our two goals are actually somewhat at odds. Producing world-class event amenities comes at a significant expense, which then affects the financial performance of the events,” Allured said. “In order to offset that, we are always looking for great businesses to join our sponsorship lineup. This expands our ability to produce great events that give back.”

Rum Revival is such a unique event in the Lake Area. The vibes were impeccable and I’m fully counting down until Rum Revival 2025. 

Have an idea for Diana’s next experience? Let her know by emailing her at diana.vallette@gmail.com 

Comments are closed.