Southern Traveler
h Home h Features h Departments h Web Bonus h Media Info h Reader Resources h Archives h space
Travel Treasures departments
Sep/Oct 2010 Issue

Shrimp and petroleum fest takes on special significance

With the Gulf Coast oil spill still painfully fresh on everyone’s mind, the annual tribute to the two mainstays of south Louisiana culture and economy will proudly continue with the 75th annual Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival in Morgan City.

Scheduled for Sept. 2–6, the festival has been honoring those who have worked tirelessly to provide the area’s economic lifeblood for three-quarters of a century. The festival stands as a testament to the heart and soul of the people of this culturally rich and diverse region. The two industries are vital to the Gulf Coast and both are part of the fabric and culture of life in Louisiana, so the festival has added significance this year because of the oil leak.

Festival organizers expect to still put on a great celebration, promising an abundance of fun, music, food, and arts and crafts. The event is free and has grown to become one of the country’s premiere festivals attended by tens of thousands of people.

Among the highlights of the five-day festival will be Cajun cooking, from gumbo to fried alligator and, of course, shrimp. If music is what you are after, then head to historic Lawrence Park in downtown Morgan City. Local, state and regional bands will perform all styles of music from Zydeco, Cajun, country and rock.

Held over Labor Day weekend, the festival features one of the largest craft shows in the South with more than 100 craftsmen showcasing their unique works and selling their art. There’s also a Children’s Village, open Saturday through Monday, that is a hands-on adventureland with many activities for children to experience, from field games and storytelling to a kids-only parade.

Morgan City is located in south-central Louisiana about 70 miles southeast of Lafayette off U.S. Highway 90. For more details about the festival, call (985) 385-0703, or visit


One of the highlights of the festival is the blessing of the fleet and water parade. Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival photo


Aerial acrobatics over Little Rock are sure to astound

With jaw-dropping aerial maneuvers, the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, will headline Thunder Over the Rock, the Little Rock Air Force Base’s Open House and Air Show this fall.

Scheduled for Oct. 9–10, this is the base’s first open house since 2008 and the Thunderbirds’ first performance in Little Rock since 2005. Flying the F-16C Fighting Falcon, the Thunderbirds will demonstrate a dizzying array of aerial acrobatics and impossibly tight formations.

In addition to showcasing the Thunderbirds, the open house gives the Little Rock Air Force Base the chance to highlight its mission as the world’s largest C-130 training base and to dazzle spectators with aerial and ground events from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces from various eras.

The base’s C-130 aircraft, which are the Air Force’s prime transport for delivering troops and equipment, will perform a “combat capabilities” exercise. In an exciting display of military power, the C-130s will drop paratroopers, heavy equipment and other cargo from high above the base.

Thunder Over the Rock, which coincides with the base’s 55th anniversary, is free to attend. The base is located 11 miles north of Little Rock near Jacksonville. The main gate to the base is located on Vandenberg Boulevard just off of Interstate 67/167. For details, visit or the base’s Facebook page.


Above: The Thunderbirds impress with their tight formations. U.S. Air Force photo

Below: The Little Rock Air Force Base is the world’s largest C-130 training base. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo

air force base


Jackson Zoo’s new tiger exhibit roars to life

A trio of big cats, who are the reigning celebrities of the Jackson Zoo, are settling into an exotic new home that fans of the famous felines will applaud.

The new 8,000-square-foot Sumatran Tiger exhibit at the zoo in Jackson, Miss., offers plenty of outdoor roaming space for the park’s Sumatran tigers–Kipling, Taymor and Emerson–who are 3-year-old littermates. The new enclosure, which opened earlier this year, features trees, a waterfall and pool, all contained by 17-foot-tall fencing.

Guests now have a better view of the majestic tigers, who can be seen prowling through the grassy glade, climbing on fallen trees and napping in the sun. At a total cost of $1.2 million dollars, the exhibit offers more than 10 times the space of the old tiger exhibit and can comfortably accommodate up to five tigers.

Grandparents can check out the tigers for free–with an accompanying paid child’s admission–on Grandparents Day, Sept. 12. And Sept. 18 is National Carousel Day at the zoo with activities taking place around the hand-carved Endangered Species Carousel.

In addition to the tigers, the zoo boasts a collection of nearly 800 animals representing 120 species from around the world. Located at 2918 West Capitol St. in Livingston Park, the zoo is open daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7.20 for seniors, $5 for children 2–12 and free for children under 2. There is also a $2 parking fee. For more details, call (601) 352-2580 or visit


The 8,000-square-foot enclosure houses three Sumatran tigers. Jackson Zoo photo

Catch the blues in Helena, Ark., this fall

When the King Biscuit Blues Festival started in 1986 in Helena, Ark., it was so small that the only stage they needed was a flatbed truck, and the audience was just a modest gathering of local residents.

Now in its 25th year, the festival has outgrown that truck and driven its way into the hearts of more than 75,000 blues fans who will converge from around the world to see legendary blues artists on three stages. This year’s festival, now known as the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, will be held Oct. 7–9 in historic downtown Helena, nestled in the Arkansas Delta.

Among the headline performers will be B.B. King, Taj Mahal and Dr. John on the main stage. The other two stages will feature more than 30 other blues groups.

When not enjoying the music, visitors can wander among dozens of food booths featuring barbecue and catfish. There also will be a barbecue contest, competitive runs, craft vendors, a blues symposium and more.

While in Helena, don’t miss the Delta Cultural Center, a museum that tells the rich story of the Arkansas Delta’s cultural and historical heritage, from the mighty Mississippi that runs through the region to the blues music that is its soulful soundtrack.

Helena is in eastern Arkansas just off U.S. Route 49. Tickets to the main stage concerts are $25 for all three days; all other performances are free. Call (870) 338-8327 for details, or visit

BB King

B.B. King is among the performers scheduled to perform at the festival. Blues and Heritage Festival photo

New museum traces curving history of Bayou Teche

Steeped in tradition, New Iberia is a cultural gumbo in south Louisiana, melding together French, Spanish, Native American and African-American cultures to create a heritage unlike any other in the world, and now a new museum is putting a magnifying glass on the region’s extraordinary origins.

The new Bayou Teche Museum serves as a conduit for information on the history, art and culture of New Iberia and all of south Louisiana. State-of-the-art exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia focus on the snakelike curves of the Bayou Teche and the history of the land and the people who settled along it.

The museum is located at 131 E. Main St. next to the restored Evangeline Theater. It is open from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for children 5–18. For more details, call (337) 606-5977, or visit

Visitors to New Iberia in September will have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the region’s culture even more during the annual Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival, Sept. 22–26 at the New Iberia City Park. Visitors will be treated to food, music, crafts, rides and more. For details, call (337) 369-9323 or visit

^ to top | previous page