Celebrate Christmas 2021

November 20, 2021 – January 26, 2022

Natchitoches Christmas Festival of Lights – Natchitoches

November 26 – December 23, 2021

5:15-9:30pm – BELIEVE Lights the Night — Shreveport Aquarium, Shreveport

Weekends November 26 – December 29, 2021

5:30-8pm each day – Holiday Light Safari — Alexandria Zoological Park, Alexandria

November 26, 2021 – January 2, 2022

12pm-6pm each day – Boardwalk Blizzard — Boardwalk Boulevard, Bossier City

November 26, 2021 – February 27, 2022

9 am-5 pm – Sno-Port 2021: The Snow Factory – Sci-Port Discovery Center, Shreveport

November 27 – December 18, 2021 (Saturdays only)

Various Times – Santa’s Sleigh Ride (plus other Christmas activities) – South College Center, Lafayette

December 1, 2021 – January 1, 2022

5:30 pm-Midnight – Christmas Light Show – Downtown DeRidder

December 2 – 5, 2021

7 pm –  A Christmas Carol – Ruston Community Theatre at Dixie Center for the Arts, Ruston

December 3, 2021

4-9 pm – Snowflake Festival, 2021 – Main Post Exchange, Fort Polk

December 3, 2021

7 pm – Rudolph – Get to the Point Ballet Company at Kress Theatre — Alexandria

December 3 – 5, 2021

6-9 pm – A Night in Bethlehem – Living Nativity at Family Worship Center, Leesville

December 4, 2021

8:30am-9pm – Light Up the Lake Christmas Celebration – Lake Charles Civic Center, Lake Charles

9am – Miracle on Washington Street Festival – Washington Ave., Downtown DeRidder

9am-3pm – Annual Christmas Porch Sale –  River Oaks Square Arts Center, Alexandria

2:30 pm – Cajun Night Before Christmas – Beauregard Museum, DeRidder

7pm – The Bulls that Stole Christmas (rodeo) – Ted Johnson Arena, Hineston

8 am – 12 pm – Breakfast with Santa – St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Leesville

December 9, 2021

5:30-7:30 – Christmas Candlelight Tour – John Jay French Museum, Beaumont, TX

December 10 – 11, 2021

5 – 8 pm – Holiday on the Bend – Toledo Bend Army Rec Site, Florien

7 pm – The Nutcracker – Joan Kathey Dance Center Stars at Leesville High School Auditorium, Leesville

December 10-12, 2021

Various Times — The Charitable Sisterhood — Impromptu Players at Wooten Theater, DeRidder

December 11, 2021

8 am – Reindeer Run – 5K Fun Run / Walk, Leesville

8am – 4 pm – Shop Small Christmas Festival – Downtown Leesville

10am – 7 pm – Christmas Around the Cabin – Railroad St., Merryville

2pm – Christmas on the Homefront – Mansfield State Historic Site, Mansfield

5:30 pm – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Parade – Downtown Leesville

6:30pm – The Nutcracker – Shreveport Metropolitan Ballet at Riverview Theatre, Shreveport

December 18, 2021

12 pm – Wreaths Across America — Cannon Cemetery, Merryville

1 pm- 5 pm – Christmas Extravaganza Pop Up – Martin Luther King Community Center – Leesville

It’s Fall, Y’all

Here in West Central Louisiana we’re starting to make plans for fall. The weather has turned cooler, the county fair has come and gone, and here in Vernon Parish we’re ready to celebrate. Next weekend we’re gonna do just that.

Derby DazeArmadillo Rally and Classic Car ShowWitch Way to Main

The fun will start on Saturday, October 30th, with the Armadillo Classic Car Show and Motorcycle Rally. Mayor Rick Allen, himself a classic car / motorcycle buff, will be there showing some of his cars. If you want to “Run with the Dillo” or enter a car, registration starts at 9am.

Derby Daze, the Louisiana State Derby Championship, will be starting at 10:00 am. The derby gives children ages 6-17 an opportunity to build their own cars –based on a specific plan—and race them down Third Street using gravity as their only source of power. This year prizes will be given for age division winners and one Grand Champion. 

Stop by and check out the custom-built racers and pick up some specs for building your own next year. The volunteers organizing the races, just like the classic car owners, are great talkers and always happy to share their knowledge, so please, don’t hesitate to stop the first one you see and ask your questions.

Don’t forget to stop by the Main Street Market while you’re downtown. You never know what you might find there – anything from farmers selling their produce, jams, and jellies to artisans selling their home-made goods. They’re open year-round on Saturdays from 8 am until 1 pm.

Also, be sure to check out the scarecrows on the Historic Courthouse lawn. The Mayor’s Women’s Commission are hosting their annual Scarecrow Contest, open to youth organizations in the area, so there should be some great examples.

And finally, Witch Way to Main Street, hosted by Leesville Main Street, will run from 6 to 9 pm. Local businesses will gather on Third Street, setting up booths with games and candy for the young Trick-or-Treaters, so dress the kiddies in their costumes and bring them downtown for family-friendly fun.

This looks like the middle of nowhere! What are we gonna do for fun?

True, on a map Fort Polk might appear to be in the middle of nowhere – and once the area was actually known as No Man’s Land – but let me set your mind at ease. You can find almost anything you might be interested in doing within an easy drive from Fort Polk.

For today, let’s start with a little information about Vernon Parish, where Fort Polk is located. We’ll explore the broader area in later posts.

In Leesville you’ll find shopping; restaurants; art galleries and classes; yoga groups, spas and gyms; a farmer’s market; coffee and tea shops; a movie theater, bowling alley and skating rink; VFW and American Legion halls; bingo and video gaming; dirt track racing and more.

Outdoor activities are abundant.

There are plenty of lakes and forests to explore just outside your door, with trails for hiking or riding; hunting, fishing or boating; picnic areas and nature observatories, etc.… If you really hate the heat, there are several scenic by-ways in the parish where you can enjoy an air-conditioned drive from the comfort of your own car while you explore the area.

Besides the usual on-post MWR activities for your children, our communities have youth soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, football and track organizations, as well as classes for dance, tumbling and martial arts.

There are lots of events throughout the year – and admission is free or minimal for most of them! We’ll have more on them later, but we do hope you’ll join us – we’d love to meet you!

What sort of events would you be interested in attending? Let us know in the comments below…

Congratulations Educators!

Fort Polk Progress extends congratulations to area educators who were named winners in the elementary school division of the Louisiana Department of Education state-level Teacher and Principal of the Year process. The winners were announced during a virtual ceremony July 16. 
Kaitlyn Richard, who teaches at South Beauregard in Beauregard Parish was named the elementary teacher division winner, while Karen Robertson, principal at West Leesville Elementary in Vernon Parish, was named the elementary principal division winner. 

Kaitlyn Richard

Being able to invest into the community that built me, is one of the greatest honors that I have had as a teacher.

“As a former military dependent, I understand the concerns and issues that military families have in regards to their child’s education. I look forward to sharing my platform of creating a positive school culture and building leadership skills in my students and teachers across the state of Louisiana.”

Karen Robertson

Fort Polk: the Heart of Vernon Parish

When we say that Fort Polk is the heart of Vernon Parish, we don’t just mean that the base is in the center of the parish. It goes much deeper than that. Fort Polk is intricately connected to the identity of the parish. The people of Vernon Parish are deeply patriotic, with an unmatched sense of duty toward our country and the service men and women who defend it.

Vernon Parish (parishes equate to counties in other states) was named after George Washington’s home, Mt. Vernon, and was created by an act of the Louisiana legislature on March 30, 1871, from portions of the parishes of Natchitoches, Rapides and Sabine.

The 61,000 residents of Vernon Parish are proud of their close association with the people of Fort Polk.   

As it happens, the terrain of Vernon Parish is excellent for training soldiers for combat in all parts of the world, which led to the Louisiana Maneuvers in the 1940’s. 

Camp Polk came into being in 1941 when the federal government evicted 250 families from their homesteads. Despite the extreme hardship these families endured, many were proud (and their descendents remain so) to have contributed to the largest training maneuvers ever held and to have ultimately been a part of what has become a premier training facility for the United States Army.  

Camp Polk was named for Leonidas Polk, an Episcopal bishop and corps commander in the Confederate Army.

Let us know what you think in the comments! 

Contact Us:
info@fortpolkprogress.com
Fort Polk Progress | PO Box 1191 | Leesville, LA 71496

Fort Polk: Education Options for the Graduate and Adult

A move to Fort Polk is the perfect opportunity to learn new things or finish that degree. 

And the educational opportunities are plentiful for the enterprising recent graduate or adult.

Northwestern State University, located a little over an hour away in historic Natchitoches offers a variety of degree programs. However, don’t despair if the idea of driving all that way overwhelms you. One of NSU’s satellite campuses is right outside the Fort Polk gate. And if that’s too far, they offer a ton of online degrees

Mcneese State University offers similar opportunities, with online degrees as well. 

The Lamar Salter Campus of Central Louisiana Technical Community College, located just south of Fort Polk on U.S. Highway 171, offers a variety of degrees in technical education. 

Effective July 1, 2021, SOWELA Technical Community College will acquire the Lamar Salter campus, greatly expanding the offerings. The transition is expected to take a year. 

Admissions for Central Texas College are open to all military members, their dependents, GS employees and the general public, and the requirements are much less stringent than other colleges. CTC offers a variety of programs. Classes and offices are located at 7460 Colorado Ave. Bldg. 660,  Room 102, Fort Polk. 

Upper Iowa University offers educational services to veterans and service men and women, as well as civilians, including Department of Defense (DoD) employees, federal contractors and military dependents (spouses and children). Explore the degree programs here

A move to Fort Polk could offer you the perfect opportunity to prepare for the next phase of your life: get that degree!

Let us know what questions you may have and we’ll  do our best to answer them!

Contact Us:
info@fortpolkprogress.com
Fort Polk Progress | PO Box 1191 | Leesville, LA 71496

Fort Polk: Education Options for Your Children

Now that you have a plan for where you’re going to live, if you have children, your mind is likely turning toward their education, and if you don’t have children, you may be thinking about your own education options. 

Let’s talk about the options for children first. There’s plenty to cover. 

Two public school districts serve the children of Fort Polk. The Vernon Parish School District serves approximately 2,00 military-connected children, while the Beauregard Parish School District serves close to 200 military-connected children. 

Fort Polk is actually located within the Vernon Parish School District, so you can expect transportation to be part of the package within the transportation circle of the school you choose. On their website, if you click on the Campus icon at the top of the page, a dropdown menu of all the schools in the district will appear. 

All told, two high schools (Pickering and Leesville); one dedicated junior high; one middle school and five elementary schools (Pickering, North Polk, Parkway, East and West) serve the area closest to the base. In addition, the district offers virtual school

The district is also keenly aware that it serves military families, and has a military liaison office to help you get settled and to learn about all the opportunities they offer that will help your children with their academic goals beyond high school. 

You can download enrollment forms for the Vernon Parish District here.

Another option is the Beauregard Parish School District, which is south of the base in another parish. For some families, this is a fine option. It just depends on your needs and preferences.  See the post on housing options for more on the benefits of living in different areas. 

Again, click on the Campus icon on the district’s home page for a drop down menu of the different schools in the parish. DeRidder High School and DeRidder Junior High make the most sense for anyone who lives in DeRidder and commutes to Fort Polk, as do Carver Elementary, K.R. Hanchey Elementary and Pinewood Elementary. 

You can read about each school and each district’s performance scores as measured by the state here. And you can discover state graduation requirements here. 

A third option is private school, which can either be your own home school, or one of two schools in the area. Faith Training Christian Academy offers a Christian education, using the A Beka program primarily for K-4 through 12th grade. First Assembly Christian Academy provides day care and education for ages 6 weeks through 8th grade. In addition, their extracurricular activities are open to homeschool students. 

Finally, of course, homeschooling is an option. To ensure you comply with state attendance laws, click here. 

Comment with your questions or insight below! We look forward to talking with you more!

Contact Us:
info@fortpolkprogress.com
Fort Polk Progress | PO Box 1191 | Leesville, LA 71496

Fort Polk Housing options: Where will I live?

If you’re about to be stationed at Fort Polk, your biggest question might be, where will I live?

And that question can only be answered depending on your wants and needs. 

How close do you want to be to the base? 

Do you like rural areas or do you prefer being in town? 

Do you have kids? 

Which schools do you want them to attend? What types of activities do you want them to be involved in?

If you choose to live on base, click here and here for a breakdown of your options and more guidance. 

Many soldiers, especially those with families, choose to live off post in one of several communities surrounding Fort Polk. 

The nearest towns to Fort Polk headed north on U.S. Highway 171 are New Llano (5.1 miles away) and Leesville (6.8 milies). 

A little further north on U.S. 171 are Anacoco (21 miles) and Hornbeck (30 miles). Many Fort Polk families enjoy the quiet country living these communities offer. 

The North entrance to Fort Polk on Louisiana Highway 28 is close to Hicks (16 miles) and Simpson (19.3 miles) which are also good choices for military families, especially if you’d like the option of being closer to Alexandria for short trips that include more restaurant and shopping options. 

To the south of Fort Polk  on U.S. 171 there is Pickering (4.1 miles from Entrance Road) and Rosepine (12.1 miles), and further south is DeRidder (16.1 miles). From DeRidder it is only another hour to Lake Charles, where the restaurant and shopping options are much expanded.

The following real estate companies have a long history of helping soldiers and their families with their real estate needs. (If you represent a real estate company and would like to be listed here, let us know in the comments below). 

ERA Sarver Real Estate, Inc.

Century 21 Delia Realty Group

Morris Team Realty

Candice Skinner Real Estate

American Dream Real Estate

Fertitta Real Estate

Which housing options sound most appealing to you as you plan your move? 

Let us know what issues you’re facing by joining one of our social media groups and engaging with us there or send us your questions about Fort Polk and the surrounding communities by commenting below! 

We’ll be happy to answer, and if we don’t know, we’ll find out for you. We can’t wait to see you!

Contact Us:
info@fortpolkprogress.com
Fort Polk Progress | PO Box 1191 | Leesville, LA 71496

Fort Polk: Where the heck?

Answer: The short, kinda boring answer is that Fort Polk is located in West Central Louisiana, or west Cenla (we’re big on abbreviating place names) or just Cenla. 

The nearest towns are New Llano (5.1 miles away), Leesville (6.8 milies) and DeRidder (16.1 miles), all relatively rural. 

Larger towns that feature more shopping and dining options within an hour and fifteen minutes are Alexandria (we abbreviate it to Alex. No offense, but you’re probably saying it wrong); Natchitoches (we can help you with these place names, I promise), and Lake Charles (one of our larger cities).

Shreveport is located about two hours away from Fort Polk, while Baton Rouge (our capitol) is a good three hours, and New Orleans is about four hours.

Do not fear. Fort Polk is surrounded by lots of interesting culture, great food and very friendly (okay, maybe a little strange, but it’s a good kinda strange) people, if you give it half a chance.

No, the base does not have a bunch of chain (predictable) restaurants right around the corner. No, we do not have a bunch of places to shop (isn’t that what Amazon is for?), and no, we don’t have the most hopping night life you’ve ever experienced. 

At Fort Polk you’ll discover a different kind of cool. We’re a jump in the lake, go fishing, boating, hiking, biking, muddin’, or just sit on the front porch and watch the world go by kinda cool. We are Sunday dinner cool. We are spontaneous get together cool. Crawfish boils, fish fries and backyard barbeques are our specialty. 

If you’re a history buff, at Fort Polk you’ll find that we’re Louisiana Purchase and oldest permanent settlement cool. We are longest-lived socialist utopian colony in the country cool. 

And if partying is your thing, you’ll see that Louisiana has more festivals than you can shake a stick at. And a lot of them are just a day trip away.

Like music? Not to brag, we’re located in the actual birthplace of a LOT of music genres. No kidding.

If you don’t expect what you’re used to, there’s no telling what you’ll discover exploring the food, festivals, historic sites, creeks, bayous, lakes, woods and mom and pop kind of shops surrounding Fort Polk.

Finally, if you’re ready to contemplate housing, let us help you. We’ve compiled some useful information here. 

Let us know what you think by joining one of our social media groups and engaging with us there or send us your questions about Fort Polk and the surrounding communities by commenting below! 

We’ll be happy to answer, and if we don’t know, we’ll find out for you. In the meantime, start planning, because there is so much to do around Fort Polk! We can’t wait to see you!

Contact Us:
info@fortpolkprogress.com
Fort Polk Progress | PO Box 1191 | Leesville, LA 71496