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Travel Treasures departments

March/April 2017 Issue


Big River Crossing leads hikers, bikers to scenic trail

Trails don’t really have a beginning or an end because you typically can start at any place on the route, but the spectacular new Big River Crossing certainly could be considered a grand entrance to the Big River Trail.

Linking Memphis, Tenn., with West Memphis, Ark., the bicycle and pedestrian crossing opened last fall on a cantilevered deck of the 100-year-old Harahan Bridge, which is still used by railroads. At about 4,800 feet long, nearly a mile, it is the longest public cycling and walking bridge over the Mississippi River. The crossing is part of the $43 million Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector project linking the two downtowns with pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets, pathways, and trails.

Parks flank both ends of the bridge, including Tom Lee Park on the Memphis side. On the Arkansas bank, Delta Regional River Park is expected to be developed this year with places to enjoy close-up views of the river and about seven miles of trails. The bridge also features more than 80,000 LED lights that can produce hundreds of different light configurations and dynamic color shows to commemorate special events, holidays, and civic causes.

With its sweeping views of the river and wooded bluffs below, the Big River Crossing is a great place to begin a trek on the Big River Trail, which stretches from Memphis about 73 miles southwest to Marianna, Ark. In development for the last five years, the trail runs atop Mississippi River levees.

Users are rewarded with scenic views of the Mississippi Delta and might see deer, waterfowl, and grazing cows and horses. There are about 20 entry points along the trail.

For more information, click on and


Since the Big River Crossing opened last fall, seen above at sunset, more than 75,000 pedestrians and bicyclists have used it. Big River Strategic Initiative



Welcome spring at Gulf Coast home and garden tour

Some of the finest homes and gardens are opening their doors and gates to visitors in the 65th annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Council of Garden Clubs Spring Pilgrimage from April 9–12.

The highly anticipated event features morning and afternoon tours of homes, gardens, and historical landmarks in Ocean Springs, Gulfport, Biloxi, Gautier, Long Beach, Moss Point, and Pass Christian. All of the tours are complimentary, and an itinerary for them will be available about one month before the pilgrimage.

In addition to the tours, the event will begin with an exhibit by the Gulf Coast Orchid Society on Sunday, April 9, at the Moss Point Welcome Center from 1–4 p.m. On Monday, the Ocean Springs Community Center will present “Walter Anderson through Flowers” from 9 a.m.–noon. A nationally renowned artist, Anderson painted murals in the center in 1951, and members of the Dogwood Garden Club will design arrangements depicting those murals. And from 1–4 p.m., visitors can tour the Heritage Cottage farm in Ocean Springs with Gary Bachman, Ph.D., a horticulturalist with the Mississippi State University Extension.

Biloxi’s historical Seal Avenue neighborhood will take center stage on Tuesday from 9 a.m.–noon with tours of beautifully restored homes. And on Wednesday, the Diamondhead Garden Club’s Small Standard Flower Show will take place from 9 a.m.–noon.

For more information, visit


One of the beautiful homes in Biloxi, Miss. Michael W. Moses


Step into the Civil War in central Louisiana

History comes alive on the first weekend of March in the annual Blue and Gray on the Red, a Civil War-era re-enactment and educational event in Pineville and Alexandria in central Louisiana.

The Blue and Gray on the Red consists of four days of events from March 2–5, with most of the activities taking place at Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site in Pineville.

At the historic site, Union and Confederate camps will showcase how soldiers lived. Among the re-enactors, Union doctors will discuss their surgical techniques, which are not for the faint of heart.

The battle re-enactments will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Other activities will include an author’s row and a free sampling of food from 19th-century recipes. Also, a baseball game will be played at the same spot where Union regiments once played. And in Alexandria, there will be lectures and a dinner theater.

Admission to the historic site is $4 for visitors 13–61, and dinner theater tickets are $25 per person.

Call (800) 551-9546 for details, or click on


Re-enactors will invite visitors to explore their camp. Alexandria/Pineville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau


Arkansas saluting WWI centennial

With “civilization itself seeming to be in the balance,” President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a Declaration of War against Germany on April 2, 1917, calling on Americans to help “make the world itself at last free.”

As the nation recalls the 100th anniversary of its entry into World War I this year, Arkansas is honoring its many contributions to freedom and the war effort with a yearlong commemoration. The state has formed a World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee to shine a light on an important chapter in the history of Arkansas, which was home to two Army training camps, active Red Cross chapters, an aviation training facility, and more.

To help people find World War I exhibits, activities, museums, and memorials, the committee created a website,, that serves as a clearinghouse of information. Among the exhibits listed is “The Great War: Arkansas in World War I,” which examines Arkansas’s role in the war. After appearing at the Randolph County Heritage Museum in Pocahontas on April 20–22, it will visit museums in several other cities.

For more information, click on


Soldiers on a march in Little Rock at Cape Pike, which later became Camp Robinson. Arkansas State Archives


Crescent City chefs tackle the taco

In a city known for exquisite cuisine, top chefs from across New Orleans, La., will turn their culinary expertise to the humble taco for the inaugural Top Taco Festival.

To be held on March 23 at Riverwalk’s Spanish Plaza on Canal Street, the event will feature dozens of chefs and mixologists competing in four categories: Top Creative Taco, Top Traditional Taco, Top

Creative Cocktail, and Top Margarita. Judges will pick the champions, and visitors will get to vote on People’s Choice awards.

General admission is $65 per person (age 21 and older), which includes unlimited “Grand Taco” tastings and samplings of handcrafted tequila. Additional packages and tickets are available on the festival’s website, including a VIP experience aboard the Creole Queen paddlewheeler. A portion of the proceeds will benefit One Heart NOLA, an organization that raises funds and awareness for New Orleans’ foster children.

As guests savor the vibrant flavors on their plates and in their glasses, they’ll sway to the rhythms of live performances by the Latin ensemble Los Po-Boy-Citos and the Afro-Cuban jazz and groove band Otra. The festivities will take place from 6:30–9:30 p.m.

For details and to purchase tickets, visit

taco taco



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