Travel Treasures
Sept/Oct 2008 Issue
Storm-damaged park reborn with facilities fit for a king

New Cabins
The new cabins echo the style of the fishing camps that once lined the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Louisiana State Parks photo
Severely damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, the Fontainebleau State Park on New Orleans’ north shore near Mandeville has been fully restored with 12 new cabins and nearly 100 campgrounds and once again lives up to its namesake–a forest near Paris once used by French kings.

The park reopened for day use in 2006 and half the campground reopened in 2007. The rest of the campgrounds and the new cabins opened earlier this year after a significant investment of more than $12 million, making Fontainebleau a standout among Louisiana’s state park network.

The style of the cabins echoes the fishing camps that lined the shore of Lake Pontchartrain from the 1930s until the 1970s. Also, the new visitor center recalls the look of the sugar mill that once operated on Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville’s Fontainebleau plantation, which he named after one of the largest forests in France.

Each of the 12 new cabins features overnight accommodations for up to eight people and rent for $90 per night. The cabins, located over the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, include a full kitchen, living room and dining area, bathroom and a lakeside porch.

In addition to the cabins, a new 300-foot fishing pier and attached pavilion offer day-use visitors additional options for enjoying the beach area. The new visitor center features exhibits that offer insight into the region’s natural and cultural history. There’s also a nature area and outdoor classroom near the sugar mill ruins.

The park is located off U.S. Highway 190 in Mandeville on 2,800 acres on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, offering a beautiful outdoor setting for camping, hiking and picnicking opportunities. For more information, call (985) 624-4443 or (877) 226-7652, or visit

Savor fall’s bounty at northwest Arkansas wine festival

Wine Cellar
Visitors getting a tour of the Wiederkehr wine cellars. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo
At the Wiederkehr Village Weinfest this fall, you’ll not only need your hands to cradle a wine glass, but you’ll need your feet to stomp grapes, carry you through the wine cellars in a conga line, dance to a polka beat and climb an observation tower.

In its 45th year, the wine festival on Sept. 27 at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars in northwest Arkansas will feature a host of activities in addition to sampling the wine. The winery is located in Wiederkehr Village so named after Johann Andreas Wiederkehr who emigrated from Switzerland to Arkansas in 1880 because the area’s mountains, valleys and climate resembled those of some of Europe’s finest wine regions.

Festival activities will begin at 8:30 a.m. with tours of the historic wine cellars, which Johann carved from a hillside. Tours end in the charming tasting room where visitors can sample the different varieties produced at the winery. Visitors also can catch a ride on an open tram through the vineyards to an observation tower that offers panoramic views of the Arkansas River Valley.

Browse through the arts and crafts exhibits, and join in the fun as a spectator or as a participant in one of the contests. There’s the Stein Stemmen (stone toss) contest, the Baum Stossen (log toss) contest, and no Weinfest would be complete without a Grape Stomping competition. There will also be polka lessons and dancing going on all day, as well as sing-alongs in German and English, Alpine dancers, strolling musicians and a conga line through the winery.

When you work up an appetite from all the dancing and touring, sample the international fare from the concession stands. Also, the Weinkeller Restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner, and the restaurant will cater the Weinfest Banquet.

Festival admission is free, and the cost of the banquet is $25 in advance and $27.50 at the door. The winery is located at 3324 Swiss Family Drive. Call (800) 622-WINE (9463) for more information, or visit online at

Have a bully of a good time at Delta Bear Affair

More than a century ago President Theodore Roosevelt traveled to the Mississippi Delta to hunt bears, but his refusal to shoot a stunned black bear thrilled a nation and led to the creation of the Teddy Bear.

On this the 150th anniversary of Roosevelt’s birthday, visitors to Rolling Fork, Miss., can retrace the events surrounding the infamous hunt at the annual Great Delta Bear Affair on Oct 25. First observed in 2002 on the 100th anniversary of President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous bear hunt, the Great Delta Bear Affair offers a variety of events to delight and enlighten festival-goers.

Musical acts will entertain on the main stage, offering something for everyone’s musical taste. Other attractions include free seminars, chainsaw wood carving, arts and crafts, food vendors, a fireworks display and re-enactors of Teddy Roosevelt and famed hunting guide Holt Collier. For younger visitors, there will be storytelling, a bungee jump, a rock climbing wall and much more. Some attractions require paid tickets.

Rolling Fork is located on Highway 61 approximately 40 miles south of Leland and 40 miles north of Vicksburg. The event is an education project of the Bear Education and Restoration Group of Mississippi.

A $3 donation is requested for admission. For details, visit or call (662) 873-6261.

Discover awesome art at Louisiana plantation

Art will be set up around the Houmas House Plantation’s 38 lush acres of gardens. Louisiana Office of Tourism photo
Leaves may not change hues in Louisiana as they do farther north, but there will be a dazzling pallet of colors on display this fall at the Ninth Annual Awesome Art in the Autumn Gardens Festival on the splendid grounds of the Houmas House Plantation in Darrow, La.

The two-day event, Oct. 11–12, encompasses a variety of art disciplines including music, sculpture, dance, fine art, folk arts and crafts. Art demonstrators will be stationed throughout the historic Houmas House Gardens, offering attendees a chance to appreciate the talents of creative artists while also taking in the natural beauty of the gardens. There will be live music throughout the day, and history interpreters in period costumes will offer guided tours of the historic plantation.

Built in the 1800s, the Houmas House Plantation is one of the South’s oldest and features 38 lush acres of gardens, ponds and a majestic live oak alley. Known as “The Sugar Palace,” the main house features 16 rooms filled with period antiques and artwork.

Houmas House Plantation and Gardens is located about four miles from Interstate 10 on Louisiana’s historic River Road. The plantation is about an hour from New Orleans and less than a half hour from Baton Rouge.

There is a $10 gate entry fee to this event, which is sponsored by the River Region Art Association. There are no food booths, but there is a restaurant and café on the premises.

For more information about the event, call (225) 644-8496, or visit online at

Stagecoach line legacy lives in Arkansas

Trail Ride
The ride brings history to life. Heritage Trail Partners photo

Before there were Federal Express planes and U.S. Postal Service trucks and even before the Pony Express, there was the Butterfield Overland Mail.

Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, the mail and passenger route was begun by John Butterfield in the fall of 1858. The 2,800-mile route was the longest stagecoach route in American history, running from Tipton, Mo., to San Francisco through northwest Arkansas.

To commemorate the sesquicentennial, the Heritage Trail Partners is holding its fifth annual stagecoach ride and horse cavalcade through northwest Arkansas on Sept. 12–14. Riders on horseback can join the ride for $15 per day, and there will be stops where the public is invited to join the festivities.

The ride will begin on Sept. 12 at Pea Ridge National Military Park just east of Pea Ridge. There will be a Dutch oven cooking contest, music and overnight camping. The next morning the riders will head south, stopping at such places as the Avoca Town Hall, the Old Wire Road Elementary School in Rogers and finally at Cross Hollow.

The final day will include stops at Fitzgerald’s Station in Springdale–an original stop on the route–and the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville. The last stop is the Butterfield Trail Village retirement community in Fayetteville around 4:45 p.m.

Call (479) 841-1900 for details, or visit


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