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March/April 2016 Issue

History comes alive at Little Rock museum

Arkansas is no longer on the cusp of the frontier, but in the heart of Little Rock, visitors can discover the state’s early beginnings in a museum that is on the leading edge of preserving the past. Founded in 1941, Historic Arkansas Museum is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year of documenting the state’s rich heritage. The site combines a modern museum with a collection of some of the state’s oldest buildings, including the Hinderliter Grog Shop, which is the oldest building in Little Rock.

Other historical buildings on site include two homes that date to the 1840s and the reconstructed 1824 Woodruff

Print Shop. The Plum Bayou Log House, which was moved to the site, serves as the centerpiece of the 1850s Farmstead that also features a barn, blacksmith shop, and more. On tours of the restored buildings, visitors meet living historians portraying original residents. In addition, the modern Museum Center has galleries with permanent and temporary historical exhibits, as well as a variety of artwork and an extensive collection of Arkansas-made objects.

Admission to the Museum Center, located at 200 E. Third St., is free, and admission to the grounds is $2.50 for adults, $1.50 for seniors, and $1 for children under 18.

For hours and more details, call (501) 324-9351 or visit


The Brownlee House at the museum dates to the 1840s. Historic Arkansas Museum


Savor Louisiana’s cultural gumbo at Lafayette’s Festival International

Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette is the quintessential cultural gumbo, representing south Louisiana’s diverse and colorful heritage but with a decidedly French accent.

Not just a celebration for Francophiles, the festival is a music and arts event celebrating the region’s French cultural heritage – primarily a combination of French, African, Caribbean, and Hispanic influences. In its 30th year, the festival will be held April 20–24.

More than 100 performers from all over the world will present live music on seven stages during the festival. The event also features food vendors, an international world market, a fine arts market, and children’s activities. Blankets and small collapsible chairs are allowed.

The festival is free, but purchased passes offer amenities like front-row concert access. Free parking with free shuttle service is available at Cajun Field next to the Cajundome (2351 W. Congress St.). Festival hours are: 6:30–9:30 p.m. on Wednesday; 5:45–11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 11:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m. on Saturday; and 11 a.m.–6:45 p.m. on Sunday.

For more details, click on


Musicians from around the world will perform. Denny Culbert Photography



To celebrate spring, hit the bricks in Natchitoches

Spring is most definitely in the air at the annual Bloomin’ on the Bricks garden festival in downtown Natchitoches, La.

In its 16th year, the annual springtime celebration will be held on Saturday, March 19, from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. The free outdoor event features a large assortment of exhibitors selling everything from lawn and garden equipment to home décor, plants, and shrubbery. Drawing an estimated 5,000 people, the event also features live musical entertainment, children’s activities, and a butterfly release sponsored by Les Amies Service Organization.

Held in conjunction with Bloomin’ on the Bricks, Art Along the Bricks is a free arts and crafts festival. Sponsored by the Natchitoches Art Guild and Gallery, the outdoor art show is held in the 500 block of Front Street and remains open until 4 p.m.

For additional details about either event, call (800) 259-1714 or visit


Bloomin’ on the Bricks will feature all sorts of garden items. Natchitoches Main Street


New GRAMMY Museum celebrates music in Mississippi

Music lovers in the Deep South have been eagerly anticipating the grand opening of a new museum that not only showcases Mississippi’s impact on American music, but also covers the history of all recorded music – a museum that Smithsonian magazine says is one of only a dozen must-visit new museums for 2016.

At long last, the wait is over.

The GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi in Cleveland, which will hold its grand opening on March 5, brings home the story of the GRAMMY Awards® to the birthplace of American music, as the state proclaims itself. It marks the first GRAMMY Museum to be opened outside of Los Angeles. Built and operated by the Cleveland Music Foundation, the museum is housed on the campus of Delta State University, home of the Delta Music Institute, whose Entertainment Industry Studies program features an amazing recording studio.

The museum features a 130-seat theater, films, interactive exhibits, artifacts highlighting past GRAMMY performances, a dance area where visitors learn various dance moves, and more. Approximately three-quarters of the exhibit space is dedicated to the celebration of all forms of music and the history of the GRAMMY Awards. The remaining space highlights Mississippi’s contribution to music and temporary exhibits, starting with an exhibit on The Beatles.

Borrowing a line from Ed Sullivan’s 1964 introduction of The Beatles to the American television audience, the exhibit, “Ladies and Gentleman…The Beatles,” will be on display from March 5–June 12. The exhibit focuses on the Fab Four’s origins in Liverpool, England, and their 1964 invasion of America.

Located at 800 W. Sunflower Road in Cleveland, the museum is open from 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and noon–5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for youth 6–18 and college students with ID, and free for children 5 and under.

For details about the museum or The Beatles exhibit, visit


Among the new museum’s many interactive exhibits is a history of dance area. GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi


Racing Festival of the South offers great odds on fun

Oaklawn’s live Thoroughbred racing season in Hot Springs, Ark., lasts from mid-January to mid-April, but the legendary track saves the best for last with its Racing Festival of the South, which culminates with the Arkansas Derby.

One of the richest weeks of racing in North America, the Racing Festival of the South will be held April 9–16 with exciting races every day starting with the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes on Saturday, April 9. On the festival’s final day, Saturday, April 16, the $1 million Arkansas Derby will attract more than 60,000 fans to enjoy the heart-pounding thrills of the last major race leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

To catch a glimpse of the Arkansas Derby contenders, attend Dawn at Oaklawn on Friday, April 15. Typically held on Saturdays during the season, the behind-the-scenes tour offers a chance to see the horses train and to mingle with owners and jockeys. The free experience is held from 7:30–9:30 a.m., and guided tours of the barn are part of the program. There will be no Dawn at Oaklawn on Derby Day.

Home to horse racing since 1905, Oaklawn has played host to some of the biggest names in the sport, including Cigar, Curlin, Smarty Jones, and the 2015 Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah.

Located at 2705 Central Ave., Oaklawn also features several restaurants and a gaming area that completed a $20-million expansion last year.

For more details, call (800) OAKLAWN (800-625-5296), or visit


Thoroughbreds racing down the track at Oaklawn. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

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