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Nov/Dec 2012 Issue

New Orleans block party will honor a humble sandwich

New Orleans is known the world over for its cuisine and the city has more than its share of AAA-rated Four Diamond restaurants, but every November, fine dining in the Big Easy gives way to a celebration of a humble sandwich: the po-boy.

Named the best food festival by the Gambit newspaper for three consecutive years, the Oak Street Po-boy Festival draws upwards of 45,000 people for a one-day block party filled with music, arts and crafts and, of course, po-boys. Slated for Sunday, Nov. 18, from 11 a.m.–7 p.m., the festival is held in an area of Uptown New Orleans known as Carrollton, which encompasses an eight-block stretch from Carrollton Avenue to the railroad tracks and connecting side streets. Oak Street is often called Carrollton’s Main Street.

The festival hosts more than 30 food vendors offering po-boys stuffed with a wide variety of ingredients, from roast beef to French fries to lobster. There will also be live music, second lines, a children’s area with games, and even panel discussions on the history of the po-boy. Admission is free.

According to legend, the po-boy was invented in 1929 by restaurant owners Clovis and Benjamin Martin when the local streetcar workers went on strike. Sympathetic to the cause, the brothers created an inexpensive sandwich of gravy and spare bits of roast beef (debris) on French bread to serve to striking workers. When a worker came to the restaurant, the staff would call out, “Here comes another poor boy!” Before long, the sandwich itself was dubbed a poor boy, eventually becoming “po-boy.”

Parking in Uptown can be challenging, so consider riding the St. Charles Avenue streetcar and deboard at South Carrollton Avenue for the festival.

For details about the festival, visit

The festival will feature po-boys stuffed with everything from roast beef to lobster. Zander White photo
po boy


Civil War will echo at Battle of Prairie Grove re-enactments

As the sun set on Dec. 7, 1862, at Prairie Grove, Ark., the rattle of musketry and the boom of cannon came to an end. Charge after charge had left a field of carnage shrouded in smoke and pocked with shot and shell.

It has been 150 years since that fateful day when 2,700 soldiers were killed, wounded, or went missing, but that last major Civil War engagement in northwest Arkansas left a lasting impression on the region. Today, the Prairie Grove Battle-field State Park guards the memories of that grievous day.
The park holds a re-enactment in even-numbered years, and with the 150th anniversary of the battle, this year’s events will be more engaging than ever. To be held Dec. 1–2, the commemoration will bring to life not only the fierce fighting, but the lives of the soldiers and civilians from that era.

During the weekend, there will be tours through Union, Confederate, and civilian camps, as well as military drills, cooking demonstrations, and other living history programs. “Sutlers Row” will feature vendors selling 19th-century reproductions, books, and souvenirs.

The battle demonstrations begin at 1 p.m. each day, featuring charges and counterattacks with infantry and cavalry. The re-enactments are held on the actual battlefield near the historical Borden House.

Located about 10 miles west of Fayetteville on U.S. Highway 62, the park also contains the recently renovated Hindman Hall, a battlefield museum with exhibits that interpret the conflict. There are also two other historical buildings, a self-guided driving tour, and more. •

Call (479) 846-2990 for more details, or visit

The re-enactments will bring to life the sights and sounds of battle. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo


Sunken Louisiana ship is revealing its mysteries

For nearly 200 years, the remains of a mystery ship lay beneath 4,000 feet of water 35 miles off the coast of Louisiana, but now the mystery is rising to the surface from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico.
Thanks to a surprise discovery and an unprecedented expedition, artifacts from the wreckage dubbed the “Mardi Gras Shipwreck” have been recovered and are on display through Dec. 2 at the West Baton Rouge Museum in Port Allen, La.

The exhibit, “Mardi Gras Shipwreck: Recovered Cache c.1812,” includes an array of artifacts from the wreck, including bottles, coins, ceramics, a compass and spyglass, cannon shot, and more.

The shipwreck, whose real identity is still unknown, was found in 2002 by a crew surveying a proposed route of the Mardi Gras Gas Transmission System. With no other name to go by, the ship was temporarily named after the pipeline.

Texas A&M’s Oceanography Department and Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation worked with archaeologists from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in exploring the site in 2007.

Located at 845 N. Jefferson Ave., the museum’s hours are 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for students and seniors. AAA members receive a $2 discount on adult tickets.

Call (225) 336-2422 for details or click on

A spyglass is among the artifacts that were recovered from the ship. Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism photo


Artisans to converge at Jackson craft festival

Just in time for the holidays, the 36th Annual Chimneyville Crafts Festival in downtown Jackson, Miss., will offer an array of one-of-a-kind items that you won’t find in the local shopping mall.

Named “Best Festival in Mississippi” in 2011 by the Mississippi Tourism Association, the Chimneyville Crafts Festival, Dec. 1–2 this year, is a favorite holiday tradition, attracting more than 10,000 visitors. Featuring the works of more than 150 juried craftsmen from throughout the Southeast, the festival includes exquisite fine crafts in wood, pottery, glass, fiber, metal, basketry, jewelry, and more.

The festival is held at the State Fairgrounds in the Mississippi Trade Mart building (High Street, off of Interstate 55). Festival hours are 10 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday and noon–5 p.m. on Sunday, and admission is $10.

If you want to get a jump on the crowds, the festival also features a Preview Party on Friday (Nov. 30) with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and of course, first pick of the items for sale. Admission is $50 and includes entry on Saturday and Sunday. The event gets underway at 7 p.m.

Proceeds from the Preview Party benefit the educational programs of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi. The guild is a 400-member nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve, promote, market, educate, and encourage excellence in regional crafts.

For details about the festival or the guild, call (601) 856-7546 or visit

Among the crafts for sale will be glasswork. Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi photo

Holiday carols will fill Little Rock forest

If a Christmas caroler sings in a forest and there’s no home with residents to gather in a doorway to sing to, does it make a sound?

You can find out the melodious answer at the festive and fun Caroling in the Forest event in Pinnacle Mountain State Park near Little Rock, Ark. To get into the holiday spirit, carolers young and old are invited to stroll through the forest on Dec. 15 and sing their favorite holiday songs.

Singers will meet at 7 p.m. on the park’s Kingfisher Trail, a paved half-mile loop that winds through the floodplain of the Little Maumelle River and under a forest canopy. For the free, family-friendly event, singers are encouraged to bring a flashlight and dress for the weather.

Afterwards, singers will be rewarded for filling the forest with song with a roaring campfire and hot chocolate at the Pinnacle Pavilion.

Located just west of Little Rock at 11901 Pinnacle Valley Road, this 2,356-acre preserve became Arkansas’s first state park adjoining a metropolitan area in 1977. The park features trails, picnic sites, interpretive canoe and boat tours, and a 71-acre arboretum.

For more information, call (501) 868-5806 or visit online at

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