Natchitoches Events/Attractions

Natchitoches Tricentennial, Celebrating 300 Years of Cenla History:

March 2014 CoverEstablished in 1714, Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase and the grand dame of Cenla. In 2014, Natchitoches commemorates its 300th anniversary, making it the oldest city in the state of Louisiana.  Natchitoches features a unique blend of French, Spanish, African, American Indian and Creole influences reflected in the culture and architecture.

Kids’ activities planned for Toy Store anniversary: The Rocking Horse Toy Store will have a community celebration of its tenth anniversary Saturday-Sunday, April 12-13 at 628 Front St. The celebration will begin Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with children receiving balloons and selecting their favorite tattoos to wear throughout the day. At 11 a.m., a balloon launch will ‘kickoff’ the weekend activities. The celebration will continue with free, fun, family activities for all ages. Door prizes will be drawn throughout the weekend and include Mudpie, International Playthings, Juratoys, Eurographics, Douglas Plus, Blue Orange games, Peaceable Kingdom, Hot Focus and Toysmith. There will be snacks. The Easter Bunny arrives Saturday at 11 a.m. to take photos with the kids. Following the Easter Bunny, activities throughout the day include Calico Critter activities, Alex craft activities, glitter tattoos, balloons and game boards play stations. The fun continues Sunday at noon. Activities planned include balloon and glitter tattoo stations, Breyer Horse Play and Marvin Magic Tricks play stations. "I am absolutely thrilled to invite friends and guests to join us in celebrating 10-years in business," said Phyllis Stroud, business owner. "What started out as a whimsical family discussion about ‘If we wanted to open a store in the historic district what would it be’ quickly evolved into a fun family business of an old-fashioned toy store. Some our fondest memories include toys from our childhood. I wanted to continue building fond memories. The Rocking Horse Toy Store helps children build those fond memories." For more information, call (318) 357-8889, email or visit The Rocking Horse Toy Store on Facebook. The Rocking Horse Toy Store, located in the Historic District in Natchitoches, offers the newest toys as well as the classic toys of generations past. According to Stroud, the store is not just for kids, it is for everyone. The store has dolls, trucks and games for all ages. Trained toy specialists help find exactly what customers are looking for to create fun and memories. The store provides free events including StoryTime, PlayDates, and Art workshops throughout the year. The Rocking Horse Toy Store also offers e-Contests that promote creative play while offering free prizes for the winners and promotional discounts for participants.

Second Saturday continues with load of events for Tri-Centennial:

April 12th:

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. : Exhibition "The Red River Campaign and the Songs of Natchitoches" There will be an open house and exhibition of the music of Natchitoches with Louisiana Poet Laureate Dr. Julie Kane and local poets. The story of the creation of "The Ballet of St. Denis" will be shared and a display featuring the Red River Campaign will be available at the Lemee House, located at 310 Jefferson St. The event is free and open to the public.

10 a.m. – 3 p.m. : One Pot Cook-Off, Cochon de Lait and Music at Fort St. Jean Baptiste: Fort St. Jean Baptiste SHS, located at 155 Jefferson St. will host "Why One Pot? A Cook-Off," a cooking competition featuring traditional recipes from the colonial frontier. Contestants will face-off against interpretive rangers and see who has the tastiest one-pot dish that could satisfy colonial soldiers. All the cooking is performed over open fire or coals. In addition, a traditional demonstration of Cochon de Lait will take place. Traditional gospel and folk music will be performed throughout the day. Regular park fees of $4 apply for adults ages 13-61.

1 p.m.: Tri-Centennial Celebration Jazz Concert: A special performance by the NSU Jazz Ensemble will be held at Magale Recital Hall on the NSU campus, featuring musical pieces celebrating Natchitoches’ 300 years of history.

U.S. Fish Hatchery, Monday through Friday from 8AM until 3PM * Closed Federal Holidays, 615 South Drive Natchitoches, LA. 71457. Tel: (318)352-5324: The newly remodeled Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery features sixteen tanks of native fish species highlighting river habitats from the South Eastern United States. The station is involved in spawning, hatching, and rearing young fish to restore natural populations. The Hatchery is a warm water center concerned with spawning, hatching, and rearing young fish, called fingerlings. The fingerlings are raised to a size and age which offers them the best chance at survival in the wild. Operations began in 1931 under the authority of the White Act. The Hatchery currently houses: catfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, striped bass, pallid sturgeon, and paddlefish. The Hatchery houses an aquarium, the Harold B. Wales Environmental Education Classroom, a holding house, ponds and the Hatchery office. The aquarium holds 16 tanks filled with a variety of warm water fish, alligators and turtles, including the rare albino snapping turtle. The classroom is used for grades K-12 and is equipped with microscopes, video teaching capabilities, and several hands-on items. The holding house is used to spawn and hatch eggs, to raise newly hatched fish, and to prepare newly harvested fingerlings for distribution. There are 53 ponds on the Hatchery grounds, averaging 0.8 acres in size.

Celebrated director expected to bring crowd: An A-List Hollywood director will be the celebrity guest when the Boys & Girls Clubs of El Camino Real hosts its Steak and Burger Dinner April 8 at the Natchitoches Events Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the event starts at 6 p.m. Spike Lee is a writer, director, producer, actor, author and educator credited with helping revolutionize modern black cinema by being the forerunner in the "Do It Yourself" school of independent film. Steak and Burger Dinner chairperson Peggy Braxton and her husband, Calvin, developed a friendship with Lee after meeting him in New Orleans through mutual friends. Braxton said she began trying to get Lee to Natchitoches about 2 years ago but he was unable to come because of scheduling conflicts. When Calvin and Peggy contacted him about this year’s event, Lee committed. Braxton said he again confirmed that he would attend the dinner when she spoke with him last weekend. Braxton is hopeful that Lee’s appearance will boost ticket sales since the proceeds finance summer projects. Braxton said the clubs could have accommodated 75 to 100 more children last year if it had more money. Lee’s "Bad 25" celebrates the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s "Bad" album this year. His latest endeavor, "Da Blood of Jesus" is slated for release this year. Lee received two Peabody Awards for the documentary, "If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise," which revisits the recently storm-ravaged Gulf Coast region as it is attempting to rebuild while demanding assistance and accountability from political leaders. Critical and box office successes have included such films as "Inside Man" , "25th Hour," "The Original Kings of Comedy", "Bamboozled " and "Summer of Sam." Lee began teaching a course about filmmaking and black film at Harvard in 1991 and since 2002, he has been artistic director of the graduate film program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he received his master of fine arts in film production and has been a professor for the past 15 years. "This Steak and Burger dinner continues its goal to reinforce that all our children matter — that their ideas and dreams are important and meaningful and can lead to world changing ideas, which is why we do what we do at the Boys & Girls Clubs for our Club Members every day. With this event’s speakers and presentations, we hope it will prove to be one of the most successful in our Boys & Girls Club’s history," said Eliza Behrendsen, chief professional officer. Tickets are $40/prepaid or $50/at the door per person and sponsorships range from $250 to $1,500. For reservations or for more information, call 352-6268, Peggy Braxton at 357-1400 or Eliza Behrendsen at 332-9116. Tickets are available at Sabine State Bank on Keyser Avenue, Front Street and Hwy. 1 Bypass/Texas; MidSouth Bank on Royal, Hwy.1/Hwy. 6 Bypass and University Parkway; and City Bank & Trust Co. on Keyser Avenue, University Parkway and Second Street.

Rotary Club announces date of Annual Bob Sewell Golf Tournament: The DeRidder Rotary Club has announced the date of their upcoming annual Bob Sewell Golf Tournament on Thursday, May 8 at the Beauregard Country Club. Funds from the tournament support local and international Rotary service projects. If interested please contact Kevin Aycock at (337) 462-8337 or Mike Luttrell at (337) 462-8315 for mor information.

I am the child’ social to promote CASA programs: The mission of CASA of Central Louisiana is to ensure that every child in foster care in Natchitoches, Red River and Sabine parishes find safe, permanent homes in which they can thrive. The nonprofit organization is founded so that the children in these parishes have a voice in court by educating and training competent Volunteer Advocates to appear on their behalf. April is Child Abuse Prevention month. CASA will have an awareness social and fundraising event Thursday, April 17 from 6-9 p.m. at the Natchitoches Events Center. The keynote speaker is Lucas Daniel Boyce, an author who recounts his journey from foster care to careers in the White House and the NBA. Tickets are $40, and tables are $400. Table packages include eight tickets, pre and post publicity, recognition during the program and recognition in the event literature. Tickets can be purchased at the Natchitoches CASA office, 1200 Keyser Ave., Suite B or call (318) 238-2446.

DHS band to march in D.C. parade: The DeRidder High School marching band will depart today for Washington D.C. and will participate in the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on Saturday. The band is one of less than 15 selected to perform in the parade out of more than 300 applicants. The selection process took six months, and boosters raised money over a period of two years for the students to make the trip, said DHS Band Director Carolyn Herrington. "This is a national honor for the DHS marching band," Herrington said. During their trip, the band will tour sites such as the Arlington National Cemetery and Smithsonian museums. The mile-long parade route on Saturday is set for Constitution Avenue, from 7th Street to 17th Street. Landmarks such as the National Archives, the Department of Justice, the Washington Monument and the White House are included on the route. The band will visit Six Flags America Sunday morning and then begin the trip back to DeRidder that afternoon. DHS is taking 85 students, and everyone is very excited, Herrington said. For more information about the parade, visit

NATCHITOCHES – Here is a look at the week of April 6 - 12 at Northwestern State University:

April 6 – 12 – Early registration for summer and fall semesters

April 8-11 – Northwestern Theatre and Dance performs "Steel Magnolias," Treen Auditorium, Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, 7:30 p.m.

April 11 – Astral Project with the NSU Jazz Orchestra, Magale Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m.

April 12 – Natchitoches Tricentennial Concert featuring the NSU Jazz Orchestra, Magale Recital Hall, 1 p.m.

Natchitoches native Mike Snowden will present a cigar box guitar workshop at Junior Ranger Day:

mikesnowden3summer_640x360 Natchitoches native Mike Snowden will present a cigar box guitar workshop at Junior Ranger Day to be held at the Cane River Creole National Historical Park at Oakland Plantation on April 19, 2014 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Snowden will perform original songs on some of the guitars he has handcrafted and will discuss the history of cigar box guitars. Children participating in the event will have an opportunity to construct their own guitars out of real wooden cigar boxes.

Bird Day is Saturday at Red River National Wildlife Refuge: Celebrate the return of migratory birds this spring in Northwest Louisiana at "Bird Day," a free, public event featuring games, family activities, breakfast with the birds, and special bird walks. The event will be held Saturday, April 12 at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge beginning at 8 a.m. The unit—which offers a Visitor Center, Exhibit Hall, Nature Store, Environmental Education space, lake and walking trails—is located at 150 Eagle Bend Point. The Headquarters Unit is accessed via the refuge entrance off the new Teague Parkway extension in south Bossier City. Guided Bird Walks will be held at 8 and 10:30 a.m., departing from the Visitor Center. "Breakfast with the Birds" starts at 9:15 a.m. with a program in the Environmental Education Center. Participants are invited to eat breakfast and to learn about attracting birds to their yards. Breakfast food will be provided by BHP Billiton, which is also supporting Bird Day by giving away birdhouses, sighting guides and door prizes and making carts available for refuge trail tours. Refuge officials will also be providing a "passport" for kids so that they can earn a prize by getting their passport stamped when they attend different activities, stop in to see booths and read displays. Representatives of the Friends of the Red River NWR, the volunteer organization that supports Refuge activities, will be available to answer questions and assist with activities. They will open the Visitor Center Nature Store and Information Desk and will check out Free loaner binoculars sized for children and adults. Children accompanied by an adult are welcome. Clothing, socks and shoes appropriate for walking in the woods are recommended. For more information, contact Terri Jacobson, Refuge Ranger, at 318-742-1219 or Lynn Stewart, president of the Friends of Red River NWR, at 318-868-1067. The Visitor Center is open from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. on weekdays and on selected hours on Saturdays and Sundays as volunteers are available and events are scheduled.

Alligator Park: April - Mid-August Open Daily, Mid-August - October, Open Weekends Only Park Hours 10AM - 5PM, 380 Old Bayou Pierre Road, Toll-Free: (877) 354-7001, Tel: (318) 354-0001, Explore the unique, mysterious, and exciting world of the American Alligator. This five-acre park is the largest of its kind in Louisiana, complete with Cajun music, Cajun cuisine, and LOTS of hungry alligators. From covered, protected walkways and platforms you’ll see hundreds of alligators in their natural environment. The whole family will enjoy watching and feeding these big gators. Children also love the Feeding Zoo, the Bird Sanctuary, the Reptile Habitat, the Jungle, Turtle Town, Rocky Raccoon Resort and much more. You can have your picture made with a gator, enjoy tasty dishes of all kinds at our Gator Bites Snack Shop, and shop for the unusual in our Gift Shop. One thing is certain, it will be an adventure your family won’t soon forget — a real Louisiana experience at the Bayou Pierre Alligator Park.

Fort to display traditional cooking techniques: Fort St. Jean Baptiste offers visitors a chance to experience a cochon de lait, a gathering at which a suckling pig is roasted. F.J. Delphin, a native to the Cane River area will bring a cochon farouche, or wild hog, to the fort Saturday, April 12 to roast and serve up to guests at 2 p.m. Feral hogs are a nuisance animal and are often trapped and prepared per cultural traditions as a source of food. A temporary cabane, or shed, for hanging the hog and retaining heat, will be constructed at the fort to give visitors an idea of the process that goes into the roasting of a pig. The pig will rotate over the fire rotisserie style to cook it evenly. "We’ll turn him upside down and round and round," said F.J. Delphin. The fort in conjunction with the Natchitoches French table, the Cane River Creole National Historic Park and the Delphin family will host the pig roast along with a Black Pot Cooking Contest. Dustin Fuqua, member of the French Table and cultural resource specialist for the CRCNHP, excitedly described the event as a way to expose people to a more traditional takes on cooking. "This will be the most traditional event you’ll see. Everyone involved are traditional practitioners, people who are into the old ways and are willing to showcase their traditional cultures," said Fuqua. He encourages visitors to come and witness the entire process of the pig roasting over an open fire. The French term "cochon de lait" goes back to butcher shops in France. The custom was brought to Louisiana with the hogs being one of the first animals settlers brought with them to the new world. "It’s important for people to get together and interpret these French and Creole customs and keep them alive so visitors can experience our heritage," said Fuqua. The pigs for the roast are roughly 60-70 pounds and will take 6-7 hours to cook thoroughly. Delphin will perform the butchering process the night before the event. Every part of the pig will be used in some method including blood sausage, hog’s headcheese and Zondouille, an old Creole way of making Andouille. La Boucherie is a traditional process ingrained in the culture of the area for as long as there have been hogs in America. "Nothing on the hog ever goes to waste, from the rooter to the tooter," said Delphin. The hair is used in bousillage-- a traditional form of constructing houses out of timbers caked with mud, moss and animal hair. The skin is made into cracklins and the leftover grease goes toward soap, cooking and canning foods to preserve them. "This process is a testament to the way people are rooted to the old cultures down here on the river, just like an old oak tree," said Delphin.





















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