Travel Treasures
Mar/Apr 2009 Issue

Mississippi Coast bracing for thunderous aerial acrobatics

The sound of thunder will echo across the skies over Biloxi, Miss., this spring as Keesler Air Force Base proudly brings back its popular air show, which has been grounded since 2004.

Headlining the show–now appropriately named Thunder on the Bay–is the Air Force’s famed aerial demonstration team: the Thunderbirds. Other performers slated to attend the two-day event on April 4–5 include the Army Golden Knights and the Air Force Academy Wings of Blue parachute teams, the War Birds and the Air Force Academy Acro team.

The air show and open house, which are open to the public, are the first Keesler has hosted since 2004, and the first time the Thunderbirds have performed at Keesler in 15 years. Officials anticipate upwards of 100,000 people will attend the event.

Not only will aircraft and jump teams be providing entertainment, but vendors will be in the area to provide refreshments and other amenities. 

General admission to the Thunder on the Bay air show is free. The public can gain access to the installation by meeting at designated areas where a shuttle service will transport people to the viewing area. Times and locations will be announced closer to the air show.

For more details, visit online at and follow the link to Thunder on the Bay, or call the base at (228) 377-2783.

Thunder on the Bay will feature exciting aerial demonstrations, static displays of planes, parachute teams and more. U.S. Air Force photos by Michelle Freeck and Kemberly Groue


Louisiana celebrating 75th birthday of State Park system

The Louisiana State Park system is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, commemorating its journey from a three-site commission in 1934 to 37 parks today, and visitors are invited to experience all the diverse offerings, ranging from lakeside cabins and Civil War plantations to campsites nestled under live oaks and peaceful streamside fishing spots.

The year-long event, which is called “75 years of Celebrating Louisiana’s Treasures,” will be recognized at parks throughout the state. Plus, a number of parks will hold special events, including a commemoration of the Civilian Conservation Corps’ impact on the parks on March 7 at Lake Bistineau State Park, March 14 at Chicot State Park, March 21 at Fontainebleau State Park and March 28 at Chemin-A-Haut State Park.

In addition, a commemoration of Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site’s 100th anniversary will be held on April 4 and the 10th anniversary of Tickfaw State Park will be held on May 15. A statewide free “Day in the Park” will be held on June 6 during which visitors can enjoy a free fishing weekend.

An exhibit highlighting the history and providing a look at the future development of Louisiana State Parks will be traveling the state and stopping at welcome centers, local libraries and chambers of commerce. Also throughout the year, visitors will be encouraged to explore the park system’s more than 165 miles of nature trails.

Plans are underway to round out the festivities with the opening of three brand new parks in late 2009 and early 2010: Bogue Chitto State Park near Franklinton, Palmetto Island State Park near Abbeville and Fort Randolph State Historic Site in Pineville.

For a schedule of events or additional information about the 75th anniversary of the Louisiana State Parks, call (888) 677-1400 or click on

visitor center
The visitor center at Tickfaw State Park near Springfield. Louisiana Office of State Parks photo


Secret Gardens tour returning to New Orleans area this spring

Dormant since Hurricane Katrina, the Secret Gardens Tour will be back in full bloom March 20–21 in uptown New Orleans.

The Secret Gardens Tour is a non-profit fund-raising tour of several private gardens in the uptown area of New Orleans. Proceeds aid brain injury recovery needs. This year’s gardens are along St. Charles Avenue, Octavia Street and Arabella Street at a time when the city’s azaleas and other springtime flowers are beginning to bloom.

Each garden will have a garden expert on hand to answer questions, and attendees will receive a detailed description of the gardens with their programs. Also, there will be guided, private tours on Friday with garden design experts taking groups of 10 or less through the gardens on scheduled tours starting at 9 a.m. These tours will be limited, must be purchased in advance online for $60 each and are expected to sell out quickly. There are no self-guided tours on Friday.

As in years past, tour-goers will enjoy music provided by local performers on Saturday. And the garden store, Secret Treasures, will offer garden-related merchandise for sale as well as the collectible 2009 The Secret Gardens Tour poster with artwork by New Orleans artist Miriam Hirsch.

New this year will be the ability to purchase boxed lunches and place silent bids in an auction of high-end garden-related goods, including Hirsch’s original painting for the 2009 poster.

Tickets for the self-guided tours on Saturday, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., can be purchased in advance online for $20 or, on the day of the tour, for $25.

Guests of the tour are asked not to take photographs or bring their pets. For details or to purchase tickets, visit

One of the gardens on the tour features a shaded terrace. Eugenia Uhl photo

Eureka Springs has lions, tigers and kites, Oh my!

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is home to vibrant tigers, lions and other exotic cats, but it’s the sky above the Arkansas animal refuge that will draw visitors’ attention this spring during the Eureka Springs Kite Festival.

In its 19th year, the festival will feature a day of high-flying fun on March 28 at the refuge, located about seven miles south of Eureka Springs. From 10 a.m.–4 p.m., visitors can fly their own kites and marvel at other unique, colorful and unusual creations. Members of several kite clubs are expected to attend and show off sensational kites and aerial acrobatics.

There will be food and drinks available for purchase, as well as kites, and visitors are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets and cameras. Admission is free, but regular admission prices apply for those wishing to tour the refuge, which is $15 for adults and $10 for veterans, seniors and children 3–12.

The refuge is located at 239 Turpentine Creek Lane off Highway 23. For details, call KaleidoKites at (479) 253-6596 or send an e-mail message to

The festival will feature an array of colorful kites. KaleidoKites photo

Hattiesburg’s Hubfest is central to family-style fun

Known as Hub City because of its central location at the intersection of several major highways between the Mississippi capital and the Gulf Coast, Hattiesburg is central to springtime fun with its annual Hubfest, and this year’s festival will be even more special because of the city’s 125th birthday.

Founded in 1884, Hattiesburg will celebrate its milestone birthday during this year’s Hubfest, which will be held downtown on March 28. Organized by the Area Development Partnership and presented by the city of Hattiesburg and the Saenger Theater, the festival will feature arts, music and more from 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

This year’s musical lineup will include all local performers, who’ll entertain throughout the day on four outdoor stages. The stages will be set up near more than 150 booths, which will line the downtown streets and provide plenty of arts, crafts and a wide selection of food.

In addition, there will be a variety of children’s games and activities in Town Square Park downtown. Visitors also can stop by the park to sample a piece of a huge birthday cake that will be provided.

Hattiesburg is located at the intersection of Interstate 59 and U.S. Highways 49, 98 and 11. For more details, call (601) 296-7500 or (800) 238-4288, or visit online at


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