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September/October 2014 Issue

Restored plantation recalls antebellum life in Louisiana

Known as “The Most Opulent Plantation House in North America,” visitors to the San Francisco Plantation in Garyville, La., take a step back in time to the 1860s as they tour the historical home, and now that step will be even more impressive.

Established in 1856 as a major Louisiana sugar plantation, the home was closed for a $1.3 million restoration project this summer that focused on repairing the exterior of the house and the grand galleries on the second floor. The last time the San Francisco Plantation saw a major restoration was in 1973. During that three-year project, archaeologists were called upon to ensure accurate reproduction of the home’s appearance before the Civil War.

From the striking colors of the home’s exterior to the lavish hand-painted ceilings and furniture inside, every element of the San Francisco Plantation is an authentic testament to the antebellum period. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the house draws visitors from all over the world.

The plantation was scheduled to reopen Sept. 1. Tours begin every day at 9:40 a.m. Every 20 minutes, a guide dressed in period clothing will escort visitors through all 14 rooms of the plantation and its surrounding grounds. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for students. AAA members save $1.

The Frisco Fall Festival also will showcase the home’s upgrades Oct. 25–26. Held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the festival will feature more than 100 artists, crafters, and chefs. Visitors will enjoy a petting zoo, pony rides, and more. Festival admission is $5 for adults, and children 12 and under are admitted for free. House tours are $10 during the festival.

The San Francisco Plantation is located west of New Orleans at 2646 Highway 44 in Garyville, La.

For additional information, call (985) 535-2341, or click on


The colorful plantation underwent a $1.3-million restoration this summer. Neworleans photo


Arkansas celebrating its 75th annual State Fair this fall

Along with dozens of pigs, poultry, cattle, and goats, the entire state of Arkansas will be celebrated at the 75th annual Arkansas State Fair held in Little Rock, Ark.

This 10-day family-oriented event, which will run from Oct. 10–19 this year, serves up entertainment and educational opportunities that emphasize livestock, agriculture, the arts, and technology. Throughout the fairgrounds, visitors can enjoy a variety of shows and activities designed for all ages.

At the New York Daredevil High Dive Show, spectators can see performers plunge from dizzying heights into pools of water. Visitors also can watch swine go snout to snout in a series of competitive pig races. During the Swamp Masters Gator Show, viewers can witness a man wrangle an 8-foot, 200-pound alligator.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary, an act unlike any other to ever appear at the Arkansas State Fair will entertain guests. Rock-It The Robot is a 9-foot-tall robot that will ramble around the fairgrounds awing crowds with its built-in sound system, light show, and dance moves.

In addition, the fair always features livestock shows, an exotic petting zoo, arts and crafts, and carnival rides. Competitive pageants and rodeo events round out the activities.

The fairgrounds are located at 2600 Howard St. in Little Rock. Tickets will be available beginning Sept. 2.

Call (501) 372-8341 for more details, or visit


Above: A high dive show will thrill visitors. Arkansas State Fair photo

Below: Carnival rides are a big part of the fair. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism photo



School is still in session at Historic Jefferson College

More than 200 years after first opening its doors as a preparatory school, Historic Jefferson College in Natchez, Miss., still serves a vital role in educating people of all ages on a variety of topics including history, nature, music, and more.

With a new school year starting, it’s a good time to visit the site, named in honor of Thomas Jefferson. The school was incorporated by the first General Assembly of the Mississippi Territory in 1802, but it wasn’t until 1811 that it opened as a prep school. During its rich history, it also served as a college and a military school before closing in 1964. Restored in 1984 and operated by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the site welcomes visitors to tour the West Wing, kitchen buildings, and Prospere Hall–where interpretive exhibits are located. There’s also a nature trail on the campus. The buildings are open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. The grounds are open daily sunup to sundown.

Fall events include Black and Blue Civil War Living History on Oct. 24–25, and the Wirt Adams Raid into Natchez Civil War Re-enactment on Nov. 8. Ghost Tales around the Campfire will be on Oct. 30 followed by a children’s flashlight hunt for 1,000 rubber ducks. Admission to the site, located at 16 Old North St., is free.

Call (601) 442-2901 for details or visit



There’s a hot time at the tamale fest

While scholars debate who introduced the tamale to the Mississippi Delta, most folks are more interested in eating them, and there’s no better place to do that than the Delta Hot Tamale Festival in Greenville, Miss.

A trail dedicated to the tamale spans the entire Delta, but the Delta Hot Tamale Festival held Oct. 16–18 promises a one-stop affair to sample a variety of tamale flavors and styles. Set in Greenville, the self-proclaimed Hot Tamale Capital of the World®, the festival draws more than 10,000 people.

On Thursday, there will be a fund-raising event at the historical J.C. Burrus House featuring celebrity chefs, and on Friday chefs and food writers will gather for a symposium before a street party that night that launches the festival. Saturday’s events include a parade, hot tamale cooking and eating contests, a pageant, music on three stages, and children’s activities.

Tickets are $150 for the fund-raiser, $50 for the symposium, and $40 for the street party. Admission to the festival is free.

For tickets or more details, call (662) 378-3121, or click on


Hot tamale cooking and eating contests are part of the festival. Delta Hot Tamale Festival photo


Living history event recalls Civil War fort construction

Rather than tales of battles, it’s engineering that will take center stage at Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site when the central Louisiana Civil War landmark celebrates the 150th anniversary of its construction this fall.

Built of earthen ramparts in 1864 along the Red River near Pineville, Forts Randolph and Buhlow were designed to deter Union excursions up the river. A massive undertaking overseen by Capt. Christopher M. Randolph and military engineer Lt. Alphonse Buhlow, for whom the forts are named, the garrisons were built by Confederate soldiers and plantation labor.

The forts, however, were never attacked and were eventually abandoned after the war.

In honor of the sesquicentennial of the forts, the site will host a living history event on Saturday, Sept. 27. Re-enactors will showcase how the defenses were assembled and discuss the life of Civil War soldiers and the obstacles they confronted during the building of the forts.

The event will take place from about 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

The park features a visitor center with exhibits on the Red River Campaign and an elevated boardwalk in the fort area. Located at 135 Riverfront St., the site also overlooks the remains of a Civil War-era dam.

Call (318) 484-2390 for details, or visit


Re-enactors will explain how the forts were built. Forts Randolph and Buhlow SHS photo

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