Destructive tools make constructive art

Instead of delicate paint brushes, artists at the Carving in the Ozarks festival in Eureka Springs, Ark., will wield chain saws and chisels to create amazing art.

Wood chips will fly and chain saws will roar during the festival, which will be held April 20–21 at the old Hitchin’ Post Campground located at Highway 62 east and Rockhouse Road. Chain saw carvers from across the country will converge on the festival to compete for prizes as they turn tree stumps into remarkable creations.

A relatively rare art form, chain saw carving combines raw power and artistic finesse to form fanciful creations from what would otherwise be firewood. With a tool designed for destruction, artists create whimsical bears, majestic eagles with their wings outstreched, rustic benches crawling with wildlife and more.

At the festival, visitors can watch familiar images emerge from logs and tree trunks as sawdust fills the air. The main event will be Friday, and carvers will work all day on their art. Then on Saturday, there will be two quick carves at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. when carvers will have just one hour to complete their art.

In addition, there will be arts and crafts booths, and concessions will be available. Participating carvers will have carvings for sale, and all carvings from the events will be auctioned off at 4 p.m. on Saturday, with the proceeds benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For more information, call (479) 253-2080, or visit online at www.carvingin theozarks.com.


Published Mar/Apr 2007


A chain saw carver fashioning an eagle from a tree trunk in the contest, which is held annually in Eureka Springs. Carving in the Ozarks photo

Dine on a cornucopia of crawfish at Biloxi festival

An estimated crowd of 50,000 will devour nearly two tons of spicy crawdads this spring at the 15th annual Country Cajun Crawfish Festival in Biloxi, Miss.

With two full weekends of exciting carnival rides, contests, games and music, the festival was recently recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the Top 20 events in the Southeast. The festival has doubled in recent years from a four-day party to an eight-day extravaganza. This year’s festival will be held April 19–22 and April 26–29 on the beachfront grounds of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

While the star of the festival is the food–nearly 15,000 pounds of crawfish, fresh seafood and regional and international dishes–the music stages will feature their own stars, including national and local performers.

The Coliseum is located at 2350 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi. For details, call (228) 594-3700 or 1-800-726-2781, or click on www.mscoastcoliseum.com.


A number of crawfish delicacies will be featured at the festival. Mississippi Coast Coliseum photo

Lafayette commemorates its namesake with events

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de La Fayette, a significant player in the birth of the nation and the patron patriot of the Louisiana city Lafayette.

To commemorate La Fayette’s contributions in the American Revolution, Lafayette is hosting a yearlong celebration featuring exhibitions, festivals, music and lectures. Many will be featured this spring.

An exhibit called “Lafayette, Apostle of Liberty” depicting his life through historic documents, photos and drawings will be on display at the Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center now through September. Also through September, visitors can take a boat tour on the Vermilion River called “How the Marquis de La Fayette Crossed the Ocean.” The tours, which depict travel in 1777, will be held once a week.

Le Bal Masqué du Marquis, a masked ball with historical costumes, will be held at the Cajundome Convention Center on March 24. Also, a Mardi Gras costume exhibit based on the Marquis de La Fayette theme will be held at Alexandre Mouton House from April 3–30.

The Lafayette Public Library will present “Sewing in the Colonies” on April 9 with natural fabrics used in La Fayette’s day. And a Franco-American Musical Tribute will be held during the Festival International de Louisiane on April 28.

For details, call (337) 232-3737 or 1-800-346-1958, or visit www.lafayettetravel.com.


Hot Springs National Park overflows with history

They may not be the fountain of youth, but the thermal springs at Hot Springs National Park in southern Arkansas have helped the region stay vibrant and popular after 175 years.

The site is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, thus making it the first protected area in the nation, predating the establishment of Yellowstone as a national park by 40 years. The park will host a weekend celebration on April 20–21 to commemorate the creation of its forerunner, Hot Springs Reservation, on April 20, 1832.

On Friday, education programs will be held throughout the day, an opening ceremony will take place at 3 p.m., and bands will perform in the evening–all on Arlington Lawn in the park. Visitors will be able to meet a re-enactor portraying President Andrew Jackson, who signed legislation to create the park. And then on Saturday, there will be free entertainment throughout the day on Arlington Lawn.

On the following Friday, April 27, the park will host a “Walk through History” event as re-enactors portray some of the important people in the story of Hot Springs National Park. Visitors can walk to stations to see living history interpreters perform vignettes. Reservations are encouraged.

People have used the hot springs for more than 200 years to treat illness and to relax. Luxurious and oppulent bathhouses were built in the early 1900s, but the bathing industry declined by the middle of the century and most of the bathhouses closed. Today, the elegant Fordyce Bathhouse on Central Avenue serves as a visitor center and museum for the park. And the nearby Buckstaff Bathhouse still offers traditional bathing services. In addition to exploring the museum and Bathhouse Row, the park features 26 miles of trails.

For more details about the annniversary, call the park at (501) 623-2824, or visit online at www.nps.gov/hosp.


The Fordyce Bathhouse serves as the visitor center for Hot Springs National Park. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo

France reties its bonds to New Orleans through exhibit

Affirming France’s cultural and historical ties to New Orleans, the French Minister of Culture and the National Library of France are unveiling an exclusive exhibition, “Four Hundred Years of French Presence in Louisiana: Treasures from the National Library of France,” at The Historic New Orleans Collection museum.

Opening March 3 and running through June 2, this is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on the National Library’s extensive collections relating to Louisiana. It explores the strong cultural ties between France and its former colony from the 17th through the 20th century. Items from the library, many of them never exhibited before, are complemented by artifacts from The Historic New Orleans Collection and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Opening with the era of exploration, the exhibition presents a range of objects, from early drawings of Louisiana wildlife to medals depicting Louisiana worn by members of the French royal family to maps and rare books.

Moving into the post-colonial era and beyond, the exhibition surveys the cultural exchange between France and Louisiana with displays on 19th-century writers and musicians, such as Frederic Chopin, and 20th-century jazzmen and authors, including Tennessee Williams and Sidney Bechet.

The exhibition is presented at the same time as “Femme, femme, femme: Paintings of Women in 19th-Century French Society from Daumier to Picasso from the Museums of France” on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art from March 3–June 2. 

The Historic New Orleans Collection is located at 533 Royal St. in the French Quarter. For details, call (504) 523-4662 or visit www.hnoc.org.


A poster for the French premiere of the movie version of Tennessee Williams’ “Baby Doll.” The Historic New Orleans Collection photo


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