Fort Polk’s June 11 Freedom Fest fast approaches, features live music, food, fun

Fort Polk Public Affairs Office
Chuck Cannon

 FORT POLK, La. –  The Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk FreedomFest takes place June 11 with fireworks, food vendors, a salute to the nation, static displays and musical guests Kylie Morgan and Jason Derulo on the JRTC and Fort Polk Headquarters Field.

Derulo, considered a multi-platform powerhouse, ranks among the top pop and urban artists with 11 Recording Industry Association of America platinum certified singles.
Morgan is an Oklahoma native who gained national attention from music producers and television executives after releasing her music independently.

If you’re interested in attending this event, which is open to the community, please take note of the following considerations:
For non-Department of Defense identification card holders, a visitor’s pass will be required. Pre-vetting is available by visiting https://visit.gvt.us/?b=usa&i=fort_polk&e=6Z7MFPZ9 and inputting your information. You will receive a text with your visitor-pass approval and directions to pick up your pass from the Visitor’s Control Center. Military police will be on-site to assist with parking, vetting and loading the shuttle buses (which are air conditioned).

Additional ACP information:
*ACP 5 (La. Hwy 467 – south/ Post Office gate) – will be open for extended hours in support of the Freedom Fest Event and concert June 11. The ACP will open for both entry and exit, at 9 a.m. and close when all guest have cleared the concert field. The ACP returns to standard hours of operation on June 12.

*ACP 2 (Parkway Elementary School gate) – will be open for exit only, in support of the FreedomFest. The ACP will open at 7 p.m. and close when all guest have cleared the concert field. The ACP will return to standard hours of operation on June 12. 

Please have a government or state issued ID card, for anyone over the age of 16, when you arrive at Honor Field for parking. Parking is $10 per car, and only cash will be accepted. All persons entering a federal installation are subject to search. Any non-DOD ID card holders who approach an access control point gate for entry will be directed to the Honor Field parking area.

DOD-ID cardholders can access Fort Polk from any gate. They will be directed to the nearest shuttle-bus parking lot at the following locations:
Allen Memorial Library; Education Center; Fort Polk Commissary; The Exchange; The Berry Mission Training Center; Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital (no shuttle bus from this location)
Shuttle buses will begin transporting attendees at 4 p.m. from all locations. All event-site entrance gates open at 4:30 p.m.

What to bring:
Blankets
Lawn chairs
Cash (automatic teller machines will be on-site) Sunscreen Strollers Small, insulated coolers for infant formula or water and diaper bags only

What NOT to bring:
Pets
Tents
Canopies
Coolers
Outside food or beverages
Alcohol
Glass bottles
Weapons
Video cameras
Backpacks or large bags
Professional cameras with telephoto lenses
Personal fireworks

For more information, call (337) 531-1959 or visit Fort Polk MWR at http://www.facebook.com/fortpolkmwr

Shop Local at Nearby Farmers Markets

By Kimberly Wallis

Whether you are new to an area or you’ve lived there your whole life, shopping local is a great way to both support your community and connect with other people in it. Checking out the local farmers market is fun and can be a great way to meet people with interests similar to yours. 

Types of sellers may vary each time you visit a farmers market but offerings usually include organic food, local honey, flowers, plants, seasonal fruits and veggies, homemade jellies, jams, or preserves, arts and crafts, and gift baskets.

Many of these sellers have poured their hearts into their goods by lavishing their time and attention on them, so they are more than willing to go the extra mile for those who appreciate that. You might get sent home with new recipes or a sample of something to try out. Maybe you’ll pick up some pointers at the arts and crafts booth. Could be that you find the perfect gift nestled amongst the woodworking display. It’s even possible you’ll get to try out a totally new ethnic dish from one of the food vendors. You never know what you’ll find tucked away in one!

You can also find some fantastic offerings, usually pretty reasonably priced, that aren’t already in everyone else’s homes (thanks to the magic of big box stores). This is a huge draw for me because I want my personal space to reflect my personal style.

Purchasing locally sourced food helps your family eat healthier by switching some of the processed food out of your diet in favor of fresher options; at the same time, this helps your neighbor and their family out financially. Added bonus, it’s better for the environment because it cuts down on shipping and helps with maintaining a natural habitat for native wildlife.

Find out what’s coming up locally at Leesville Main Street; their Third Street Market is open every Saturday from 8 AM- 1PM (no seller fees except for special events!).

Downtown Deridder’s McConathy Market is also a good local option. Also, check out Bountiful Baskets, not a market but in the same realm, a food co-op where you can feed your family much cheaper! 

There are also a few farmers markets around the state you should probably consider visiting at least once. For instance, plan for an entire day to visit the French Market. It spans six blocks of the French Quarter in New Orleans and is the oldest market of its kind in the United States. Another one you can make an entire day out of is a trip to the Flea Market of Louisiana and nearby Tanger Outlet Mall. Heads up though, you may need a U-Haul to get back home from these! 

You can make short day trips out of visiting the farmers markets in Lake Charles, Lafayette, Natchitoches, or Alexandria. Louisiana Travel made a list of popular ones around the state that you can find here.

Since farmers’ markets can affect such a positive impact on our communities, wouldn’t it be almost wrong not to take advantage of the many benefits you personally get out of it?

Kisatchie National Forest: Nothing but Pine Trees!

By Charli Stanley

Growing up in the middle of the woods, I always heard things like “How do you not get lost out here?” and “Everything looks the same; it’s just a bunch of pine trees!” If you’re new to Louisiana, I’m sure the same thought has run through your mind as well, but there is much more to this pine forest than meets the eye. Now, before reading on, I feel the need to warn you, some of the names used in this article are a little hard to say and may come off as intimidating, but bear with me, I’ll try my best to help you through it. 

Cypress knees peek out of the water at Little Cypress Pond in Kisatchie National Forest. Photo by Charli Stanley

Kisatchie (kuh-sa-chee) National Forest is a 604,000 acre forest that spans across seven of Louisiana’s sixty-four parishes. Due to the large scale of the forest, Kisatchie is split into five Ranger Districts, which are then split into smaller units. 

The name Kisatchie derives from a Caddoan tribe of Kichai (kee-chai) Indians who once called the banks of the Red River their home. This land was rich in timber, and the resource was milled and abused until the Forest Service was able to obtain some units of land in the late 1920’s, allowing the forest to begin the long road to recovery. It officially gained the title of National Forest in 1930.

While it may seem like pine trees are all you can see within the dense forest, there is a lively ecosystem of wildlife teeming within. Plenty of game available for seasonal hunting include whitetail deer, turkey, quail, squirrel, and more. Other species you may observe include turtles, foxes, otters, and frogs. More dangerous animals lurk as well, so keep an eye out for wild boar, black bears, snakes, and bobcats. The most elusive animals of the forest are the escape-artist horses that decided domesticated life wasn’t for them.

Butting borders with Fort Polk is the 85,000 acre Vernon Unit of the Calcasieu (kal-kuh-shoo) Ranger District. Within the Vernon Unit are nestled four of its own recreation complexes: Little Cypress, Blue Hole, Fullerton Lake, and Government Pond. Fullerton Lake Recreation Complex is home to one of the many sawmills that once flattened the lush forest. Ruins of the mill can still be found along the 1.6-mile Fullerton Mill Trail. 

Today, the forest is used for a plethora of activities, from hunting on designated grounds, to hiking through the pine-lined trails, or even camping on the shores of one of its many lakes. Miles-long ATV trails snake through the thick woods, kayaks can be rented for a day on the water, or you can even grab your pole for a day of fishing. If outdoor recreation is your style, Kisatchie has endless opportunities for your enjoyment. For more information on openings, closures, and announcements, check out their regularly-updated bulletin.

Gardening in Louisiana

By Kimberly Wallis

Whether you prefer fresh cut flowers displayed on the windowsill or cooking with vegetables you grew yourself, Louisiana’s long growing season will be perfect for you! Either way, there is something truly satisfying about growing your own versus store bought. 

But maybe you don’t garden at all? Well your stay in Louisiana, with it’s subtropical climate, might be the perfect time to pick up a new hobby! For more info on the climate, click here.

The absolute best resource out there for beginning your gardening journey in Louisiana is the LSU Agricultural Center. They offer courses in Master Gardening and if you are already a Master Gardener in another state, you may be able to transfer that to Louisiana. There are also free certificate courses offered on home composting and home gardening.

LSU Ag Center’s program Get It Growing has both a YouTube channel and seasonal archives so you can get timely updates and see how the Louisiana growing schedule may be different from other areas. They also sell the Get It Growing Lawn and Garden growing calendar which will help you while providing some funding for these free programs at the same time. What a great way to pay it forward for future gardeners!

Doug Young Nursery displays its products at the 2019 Nursery Festival in Forest Hill, Louisiana.

Former Get It Growing host, Dan Gill, is a gardening columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Check out this article he wrote on what to plant each month. 

Greater New Orleans Gardening newsletters, also through the LSU Ag Center can be read here and you can sign up for their monthly emails as well. GNO Gardening Newsletters also include listings for garden centers in south Louisiana.

Seeds to Success is Louisiana’s farm to school program. An extremely helpful tool for teachers or those who homeschool, this site contains tips and guides which are useful at home as well.

Another great resource for gardening that works well no matter which hardiness zone you live in is the Farmer’s Almanac. No matter whether you are just starting out or a life long grower, you can find helpful tips, tricks, and growing advice they have been gathering since 1818!

The Good Food Project, in nearby Alexandria, allows you to receive offers, tips, resources, and schedules specific to Central Louisiana gardeners by signing up for the Sprout E-Newsletter.

Less than an hour from here is a quaint little village in Rapides Parish, Forest Hill, known as the nursery capitol of Louisiana because it offers a couple hundred from which to choose. This claim to fame has even gotten it featured in an article for Country Roads magazine. Another article in the Alexandria Town Talk you may find interesting talks about the local nursery that patented the crimson azalea, also one of the few licensed to grow the Southern Living magazine plant collection.

Flowers, plants, arts and crafts, food, and fun for the whole family, even including a carnival, can be found the third weekend of March at the Louisiana Nursery Festival.

If you find that you’ve really got a green thumb and have more vegetables and/or cut flowers than you know what to do with, well take them to a nearby Farmer’s Market!

Any way you grow, growing in Louisiana is tons of fun.

FTCA Lady Patriots Claim State Runner-up

By DANIEL GREEN

BWS Sports

PINEVILLE – The game was there for the taking.

But those missed opportunities proved too much to overcome as the Faith Training Christian Academy Lady Patriots fell to the top-seeded Southwest Louisiana Homeschool Lady Knights on Saturday in the ACEL state championship game at H.O. West Fieldhouse on the campus of Louisiana Christian University, 46-38.

Photo by DANIEL GREEN
Faith Training junior guard Kylie Fleshman (32) drives the baseline during the third quarter of the Lady Patriots’ loss in overtime to Southwest Louisiana Homeschool at Louisiana Christian University in the ACEL championship, 46-38.

“We fought back hard to send it to overtime. It just got away from us at the end,” Faith Training Christian Academy head coach Walter Young said. “But I’m proud of our girls and how we battled back.”

This final was a rematch of last year’s outing, which FTCA won at Pineville High School. And if the opening moments of the contest were an indication of what was to come, then it would have been a repeat.

Faith Training jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Southwest closed out the first quarter on a 12-0 run to claim a 12-7 advantage.

The Lady Patriots battled back to tie things on a couple of occasions in the second period at 13-13, 15-15 and 17-17, before a basket by Nevaeh Clophus allowed Southwest to go into the locker room with a 19-17 advantage.

FTCA came out of the locker room fresh and took advantage of JoHana Clophus being on the bench in foul trouble. The Lady Patriots doubled up on SWLA in the third, 12-6, opening up a 29-25 lead going into the final frame of regulation.

Faith Training Christian Academy Lady Patriots (courtesy photo)

JoHana Clophus re-entered the game and connected on a three-pointer to get her team to within one and caused a turnover, which led to the Lady Knights opening up a 30-29 advantage.

Eventually, SWLA took a 36-33 lead with under two minutes to go in regulation and continued gunning from downtown. That allowed FTCA to get the ball down the court, where Keira Henry was fouled. 

Henry connected on her first free throw, but missed the second. However, Julia Jenkins grabbed the rebound and put the ball in to tie the game at 36-36. Each team had a couple of possessions to close it out in regulation, but neither team converted, sending the game into the extra session.

Faith Training Christian Academy Lady Patriot head coach Walter Young was named as the ACEL Girls’ Coach of the Year for the fifth year in a row. He was presented with his honor following the completion of the ACEL State Tournament Championships at Louisiana Christian University.(courtesy photo)

Both teams scored in the opening minute of overtime to be tied at 38-38. But a driving layup by Nevaeh Clophus, followed by back-to-back threes from the junior, sealed the game for the Lady Knights, 46-38.

Although Young wished the outcome would have been different, he was proud of his team and is already looking forward to next year.

“We lose two seniors in Jordan Jenkins and Emily Dobbins, so we will be looking for someone to step up for us and compete,” Young said. “But we will have some veteran players back that know what it is like to win one of these and lose one. And Southwest will be right there with us.”

Nevaeh Clophus scored 24 points for the Lady Knights, while sister JoHana Clophus came in with 11 points. Ava Loewer chipped in with seven points.

Jordan Jenkins paced the Lady Patriots with 16 points, while Henry contributed seven points. Julia Jenkins finished with six points.

Later in the evening, Young was named the ACEL Girls’ Coach of the Year, while Henry and Kylie Fleshman won first-team all-state recognition. Jordan and Julia Jenkins were second-team all-state.

Deridder’s Gothic “Hanging” Jail

By Kimberly Wallis

Deridder’s Gothic Hanging Jail boasts an unusual combination of fascinating history, stunning architecture, and paranormal activity. What more could you possibly need to entice you to schedule some time to go and explore it, right? 

Well, how about an event where you go to this aforementioned beautiful, haunted, historic jail and are allowed to accompany a paranormal investigation team as they work? February 25th and 26th, Gothic Jail After Dark and the Georgia based Searchers will be co-hosting just this very event! So if this sounds like an adventure you wouldn’t want to miss out on, they have four different ticket options available for you to choose your own adventure. Find out what they are and purchase your choice of them here. Better hurry though, because the event is almost sold out!

The event flier for the Searchers Return to the Gothic Jail, includes a picture of Josh Purvis and Shane Pittman standing back to back at the front right side of the Gothic Revival style jail in Deridder, La.

If just the very thought of ghost hunting makes you feel a little faint at heart, never fear! You can still go and explore the jail without intentionally trying to awaken any of the spirits purported to reside there. Day tours are offered Monday through Friday with no reservations required at 10, 11, 1:30 and 3. On select weekends, they also do a night Lantern Tour which does require reservations. Once the Lantern tour date has been set, they will post the event on Gothic Jail After Dark’s Facebook page and then open up reservations. 

The Gothic Hanging Jail is a haunted attraction hosted by the Beauregard Tourist Commission Office. It was originally built in 1914 and was added to the National Historic Register in 1981. It has beautiful architecture designed in the Gothic Revival style (also known as Gothic Collegiate) and was considered very extravagant for the time period. It resembles a mansion more than a prison; no wonder the jailer lived in it!

A front a front facing view of the historic Gothic Revival style jail in Deridder.
credit: Bearegard Tourist Commission

There are some very interesting tidbits of history behind both the construction of the building and the building itself. Speaking of history, you can learn all about how the jail had “hanging” added to its name through the story of the two prisoners who were hanged in the spiral staircase back in 1928 (and whose spirits are said to remain to this day). 

With hanging, murder, and suicide stories in its past, is it any wonder that it’s a hotspot for paranormal activity? It’s been both featured on and written about by the Travel Channel. It’s aired on Discovery+. It appears in Haunted Nation’s blog. It was the setting used in the 2019 horror movie Eli. Country artist and  Deridder native Clay Alston has a song about it called The Hanging Jail. With all of the hype about it, that should be more than enough to make even those who are timid curious enough to schedule a trip to check out everything they have to offer at Deridder’s Gothic Hanging Jail.

Pagan Festival Turned Louisiana Tradition: What is Mardi Gras?

By Tori Dahlhoff

Literally translated, “Mardi Gras” means “Fat Tuesday” in French. The tradition of Mardi Gras spans back thousands of years and was originally performed as a pagan festival. According to the article Mardi Gras 2020 In an effort to erase paganism and perhaps convert pagan worshipers, the Catholic Church began to incorporate the festival into their own religion. So why do we celebrate a day known as Fat Tuesday? In the Catholic religion there is a season of fasting known as Lent in which participants refrain from consuming certain forbidden foods. Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday; therefore, on the Tuesday before, participants would binge on fatty foods that would be prohibited during Lent, hence Fat Tuesday was born.

 The Mardi Gras season began on January 6, 2022 this year, and will conclude on March 1, 2022.

Two Mardi Gras parade goers pause for a photo during a Leesville parade. 
Photo courtesy of Shana Ashworth

The festivities involved in celebrating Mardi Gras are vast and may not be well known to those who are not native to Louisiana. Some of these distinguished traditions include parades, balls, king cake, and eccentric costumes. 

The parades boast floats created by specific krewe’s (which are groups of people who work year around to plan out the parades and other traditions), music, marching bands, and food. One of the staples of a Mardi Gras parade is the tossing of beads to onlookers, and the coined phrase “Throw me something mister!” from parade-goers. The plastic beads will decorate trees, streets, rear-view mirrors and necks for weeks to follow. Many of these parades are chock-full of characters dressed up in eccentric costumes which are usually color themed in greens, purples, and gold. 

While New Orleans and Bourbon Street may be the first that come to mind when you think of Mardi Gras celebrations in The Boot, the entire state of Louisiana participates in the celebration. There are local parades and balls in Deridder, Leesville, Alexandria, and Natchitoches. Deridder hosted a parade on January 26 at 5 p.m. The Leesville Mardi Gras parade will be on February 26 at 2 p.m. on Third Street. There will be a children’s Mardi Gras parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 26 in downtown Alexandria. Natchitoches will also have a parade known as the “Krewe of Dionysos” on February 26 at 6 p.m.  

Mardi Gras balls are extravagant events that allow participants to embellish themselves in ball gowns, suits, and sometimes even masquerade-like masks. These balls typically have a court, and therefore have a king and a queen announced. Eat, drink, and dance the night away at a ball fit for kings and queens. Locally, the Knights of Columbus host a ball in Leesville. This year’s event is Feb. 19. For more information, click here

Natchitoches also hosts a ball, and if you are willing to travel farther away New Orleans hosts many eccentric and extravagant balls as well. Here is a link to Mardi Gras activities around the state. 

Last but not least, there is the tradition of eating a specific cake during the Mardi Gras season known as a “king cake.” Traditionally the cake is an oval pastry type with melted icing and colorful sprinkles on top with a slight twist found inside of it: a tiny plastic baby. The tradition goes that whoever finds the baby in their piece of cake must provide the cake the next year. 

King Cake

There are so many varieties of king cake out there that even the pickiest of eaters can find one they will enjoy. The typical king cake is a pastry cake that somewhat resembles a large cinnamon roll with icing on top. From there you can add almost anything you want to them. Many are stuffed with raspberry, cream cheese, strawberry, or blueberry filling. You can venture out from the sweet cake and try crawfish stuffed cake, or boudin stuffed cake as well. Contact Southern Sweets and Treats to order a local king cake. Want to dabble in what the entire state has to offer? Here are some of the best king cakes that can be delivered!

Join in the festivities and traditions that Louisiana has to offer by participating in the eccentric celebration known as Mardi Gras. Remember to laissez le bon temps rouler, or let the good times roll!

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What Will We Do for Fun?

By Kimberly Wallis

The front cover of the Louisiana Inspiration Guide features canoers on Lake Martin in Louisiana.

Vernon Parish was once part of a lawless neutral strip separating Spanish Texas from the United States after the Louisiana Purchase. This “No Man’s Land” boasts a proud history that runs the gamut with tales regaling the exploits of pirates, outlaws, bandits, heroes, and soldiers. Find stories, adventures, events, and games (such as geocaching) here.

Not to be outdone by mere mortals, our natural environment includes just as vast an array. Not including the myriad waterways, we have 5 notable bodies of water to satisfy any angler: Anacoco and Vernon lakes, the Sabine River, Toro Bayou, and the Toledo Bend Reservoir (the largest man-made lake in the Southern United States). We are also home to portions of the Kisatchie National Forest, which serves as a globally important bird area for an endangered species, the red-cockaded woodpecker. It offers fishing, hunting, both tent and RV camping, and trails for off highway vehicles, hiking, and horseback riding to the public.  

For the history buff, there is Leesville’s Museum of West LA or the Museum of the New Llano Colony.

Those with small children will definitely want to visit Leesville’s Splash Waterpark or Deridder’s Veteran’s Park Splash Pad  and West Park pool (the DeRidder website is under construction). Those of all ages can appreciate a combination of art, music, and nature surrounded by a walking path in Leesville’s Art Park. This park was adopted by a local non-profit, Gallery One Ellleven, which sponsors both contemporary and traditional art exhibits in historic downtown Leesville.

The Angola Arts and Craft Shows feature absolutely amazing handmade goods and the Angola Prison Rodeo is a show you won’t want to miss! Get tickets to these events here

Louisiana has 5 different recognized tribes of indigenous people. The pow wows can be fun and educational, not to mention that they are wonderful places to find jewelry or arts and crafts.Plan a trip using the powwow schedule

Up for a drive? There is no shortage of activities to enjoy as a family. By no means a complete list, here are some ideas to get you started on your journey in Louisiana! Alexandria has the YMCA, the TREE House Children’s Museum, and you can ride a train at the Alexandria Zoo. It’s twin city, Pineville, offers a Splash Pad and 18 hole disc golf at Kees Park. Feed the alligators at the 5-acre Natchitoches Alligator Park. Shreveport has the Sci-Port Discovery Center and an aquarium. Baton Rouge has two-in-one Dixie Landin’ Amusement Park and Blue Bayou Waterpark and the BREC Zoo has both a playground inside and train rides. Lafayette Science Museum has dinosaur exhibits and a planetarium. Lake Charles and it’s twin city, Sulphur, offers the safari style Creole Nature Trail All American RoadAdventure Point and SPAR waterpark. New Orleans has the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and  the Audubon Zoo.  While you’re there, be sure to check out Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, not to mention all the other fabulous things to do in New Orleans

Not surprising for a state whose largest tourism draw is celebrating a Tuesday, Louisiana has festivals for everything! You can find listings for these, as well as information on state parks and museums, or order your free travel and inspiration guide here

Even those who are from this area will be able to learn new things and find interesting places for road trips or weekend getaways that they had no idea existed with this website. Get off the beaten path and find those hidden gems or just broaden your knowledge about what Louisiana has to offer by reading articles or joining their email list.

Life is really what you make of it, and Louisiana has all the ingredients you need!

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.

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.