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November/December 2014 Issue

Experience the romance and adventure of the Renaissance in south Louisiana

Travel about 4,600 miles–and 500 years back in time–without a plane ticket or time machine at the annual Louisiana Renaissance Festival in Hammond, La.

Open for six consecutive Saturdays and Sundays starting Nov. 1, including the Friday after Thanksgiving, the festival brings to life 16th-century England with more than 600 artisans, entertainers, and educational demonstrations. The 16-acre entertainment area exudes an atmosphere of adventure, excitement, and romance with a different theme every weekend, during which visitors are encouraged to interact with the re-enactors.

Equal parts theater and theme park, the festival offers an array of entertainment, including more than 50 shows on a dozen stages and along the streets. There will be sword fighting, birds of prey, fire eating, knighting ceremonies, jugglers, animal acts, live music, archery demonstrations, and more. Among the many highlights are the jousting demonstrations featuring fully armored knights racing toward each other on horseback.

Visitors also will enjoy the demonstrations of old-world skills, including glass blowing, blacksmithing, weaving, candle making, and coopersmithing.

There will be more than 100 places to shop at the festival for handmade art, crafts, and many items similar to those you would find in an English town during the Renaissance.

The festival grounds are located about three miles east of Hammond on Louisiana Highway 1064. The operating hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. One-day tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for children 6–12.

Call (985) 429-9992 for details or click on

sword fighting

Above: Sword fights and jousting are among the many shows. James Byron photo

Below: Dozens of costumed entertainers bring 16th-century England to life during the festival. Cloud M Photography photo



Anchors aweigh: Maritime Museum reopens in Biloxi

Sunk more than nine years ago by Hurricane Katrina, the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi, Miss., has been resurrected and re-launched as a three-story beauty at Point Cadet, the Gateway to Biloxi.

Originally established in 1986 to interpret the maritime history and heritage of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the new 20,000-square-foot museum carries on the mission with an array of galleries, exhibits, and artifacts. One of the main features of the new $8.98 million museum is the NYDIA, a gaff-rigged cabin sloop built in Biloxi in 1898, displayed in the Grand Hall. Also included is a timeline that ranges from the first Indian settlements through current maritime history, telling the tale of more than 300 years.

Other exhibits feature wooden boat building, schooners, shrimping, oystering, recreational fishing, art, wetlands, charter boats, the barrier islands, and a priceless collection of historical photographs.

In addition, walk-on or charter schooner sailing is open to the public from the museum’s Schooner Pier Complex. Maritime history comes to life aboard the museum’s two authentic replicas of Biloxi oyster schooners that plied the Gulf Coast in the late 1800s and early 1900s–the Glenn L. Swetman and the Mike Sekul.

The museum is open 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon–4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for AAA members and seniors, and $6 for students 5–15. Schooner excursions are priced separately.

For more details, visit or call (228) 435-6320.


Above: Museum visitors will admire the NYDIA, built in 1898. Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum photo



Sink your teeth into refreshed food museum

In a one-of-a-kind museum you can expect to find only in New Orleans, haute cuisine meets comfort food and the American cocktail at the relocated Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

The museum, known as SoFAB, is the award-winning museum of culinary culture and history. Originally opened in 2008 at the Riverwalk Marketplace, SoFAB recently celebrated a grand opening at its new location in the former Dryades Market, which was once one of the city’s largest markets.

The complex includes the Museum of the American Cocktail, La Galerie d’Absinthe, and the Gallery of the South, which features exhibits that transport visitors on a culinary journey to the other states of the South. And the Leah Chase Louisiana Gallery focuses on the culinary history of Louisiana and New Orleans, featuring many iconic foods like red beans and rice, calas, and king cakes.

The project also includes a demonstration kitchen and a full-service restaurant.

Located at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Blvd., the museum is open 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors; accompanied children 12 and under are admitted for free.

For more information, visit online at or call (504) 569-0405.



Fun lessons bloom in Jackson Literacy Garden

A new, innovative garden at the Mississippi Children’s Museum in Jackson, Miss., promises a bumper crop of imagination, creativity, fun, and language skills for young children.

The recently unveiled outdoor exhibit called the Literacy Garden features nine interactive areas that promote learning while playing, including a 30-foot tree house in which kids can read, giant story-telling mushrooms, an amphitheater, and even a garden where children can grow fruits and vegetables. Combining literacy, arts, health, and nature, the exhibit engages kids in a fun way.

The garden utilizes the power of fiction, fantasy, and fables to engage even the youngest visitors, from toddler to 8 years old, in the development of early literacy and learning skills. Following the Topsy Turvy Pathway, children will make their way through the garden discovering a whimsical world of tall tales and larger-than-life fantasies.

Located at 2145 Highland Drive, the museum is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1–6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10; infants under 1 year are admitted for free.

For more details, visit or call (877) 793-5437.


The garden features interactive learning areas. Mississippi Children’s Museum photo


Road trip leads to ambitious art show

To say that curators went to great lengths to create a compelling and unforgettable new show at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., would be a colossal understatement.

The curators–museum President Don Bacigalupi and curator Chad Alligood–logged more than 100,000 miles over the course of a year, crisscrossing the nation to visit nearly 1,000 artists. In an unprecedented attempt to capture a snapshot of what’s happening in American art today, they conducted hundreds of hours of conversations with the artists and selected 102 for “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now.”

On display now through Jan. 19, the exhibition draws from every region of the country, offering a diverse and nuanced look at American art. The artists selected range in age from 24 to 87, including 54 male and 48 female artists. The collection’s 227 works include paintings, photography, video, sculpture, ceramics, and more in a range of styles and voices that reflect what’s happening in art right now.

Located at 600 Museum Way, the museum is open 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday and Thursday; 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; and 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.

Call (479) 418-5700 for more details or click on


Pam Longobardi’s Ghosts of Consumption (for Piet M.) features found ocean plastic from Italy, Hawaii, Alaska, and more. Crystal Bridges Museum photo

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