Louisiana Destinations: Celebrate fall with an In-State Trip

In the fall, as temperatures cool, why not emerge from the air-conditioning and take a trip to one of Louisiana’s great destinations? With locations all within a day’s drive, exploring Louisiana is an economical way to take in history, enjoy sports, dig in to great cuisine, or wile away a weekend. Plus, throughout the fall, many of Louisiana’s Parishes host fantastic festivals that make for family-friendly outings. Here, find some favorite destinations.
Just 90 minutes from New Orleans, step into another world on the Cajun Coast. Encompassing Morgan City, Berwick, Patterson and Franklin, the Cajun Coast celebrates the best in Louisiana food, culture, and natural beauty. The Atchafalaya Basin Swamp is especially vibrant in the fall –– the colors of the swamp change, the sounds come alive and the wildlife is bountiful. Fall is also a great time to drive the Atchafalaya Trace Heritage Area along the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway. Or visitors can play a round of gold at the Atchafalaya Golf Course at Idlewild, named as one of the best new courses in Louisiana by Golf Digest. The Cajun Coast offers historic downtown streets and plantation homes, shopping, and sites like the historic Seawall in Morgan City. Families can visit the Louisiana State Museum in Patterson and learn from the hands-on Wedell Williams Aviation exhibit. This fall, festivals keep everyone entertained. The Atchafalaya Culinary and Arts Festival will include a trade show of Louisiana food products, cooking contests, music, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, cookbook signings, an art walk and a 5K Run, and the Harvest Moon Fest will have arts and crafts, children’s activities, 5K run, Car Show, shopping promotions, music and more.
    Find out more at www.cajuncoast.com.     West Feliciana Parish and St. Francisville offer southern hospitality, fantastic shopping, breathtaking scenery, and more. Visitors can spend the day exploring private gardens and antebellum homes, or biking, hiking, fishing and birding at one of the area’s wildlife preserves and refuges. West Feliciana Parish’s museums include the Angola-Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum, and the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum.
    Oct. 17-18, visit St. Francisville for the 20th Annual Southern Garden Symposium and Workshops. World-renowned garden experts share their knowledge and expertise with southern garden enthusiasts. This year’s program features Mr. Fergus Garrett from The Great Dixter, home and garden of the late Christopher Lloyd located in Northiam East Sussex, England. Mr. Garrett is just one of several outstanding speakers who will offer workshops and programs on floral design, easy-care in roses, perennials, heirloom bulbs, bamboos, and garden design.
    Also in October, watch feats of daring and skill at the Angola Prison Rodeo. The rodeo features bull riding, bareback riding, the wild horse race, barrel racing, bull-dogging, wild cow milking, rodeo clowns and more, in a recently expanded arena.
    Events take place throughout the fall. For more information about a trip to West Feliciana Parish, visit www.stfrancisville.us or call (800) 715-0574.
    It’s all fun and games this fall at L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort. Just a few hours from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, L’Auberge offers all of the amenities of a Las Vegas resort casino conveniently located in Louisiana. Sixty-two table games, over 1,600 slot machines, a championship Tom Fazio golf course, the full service Spa du Lac, resort pools and lazy river, and unique retail shopping ensure that there’s always something to do. The staff at L’Auberge offers unparalleled customer service to provide unforgettable memories to guests. Families, couples or friends can tailor their trip to suit their needs. L’Auberge offers eight innovative dining options including the 400-seat Le Beaucoup Buffet, fine dining at Snake River Grill, Le Café, Asia, Desserts and more. Guests can stay at the 26-story casually elegant hotel with 1,000 rooms, suites and villas featuring big name entertainment. This fall, L’Auberge brings Chicago to its stage in September; country crooner Lee Ann Rimes will perform in October.  
    Visit www.ldlcasino.com for a full schedule of events, entertainment and ticket information. L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort is located at I-210 at Nelson Road/Exit # 4. For more information, call (866) 580-7444.

    For some fun on fall weekends, look no further than Houma, where festivals and events keep visitors eating, dancing, singing, and shopping. Jump aboard a swamp tour for an educational view of Louisiana’s wetlands. Tour the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum or come face to face with 12-foot alligators, snapping turtles, wild deer, peacocks, and exotic birds at the one-of-a-kind Wildlife Gardens. Take the family out for a day of fishing on bountiful waters. Or go back in time with a visit to Southdown Plantation House. Once a working sugarcane plantation and home of the Terrebonne Museum, the house, built in 1859, features displays of the local Native American culture, Mardi Gras, the sugarcane industry and area history. Visit Southdown on Nov. 1 for its biannual arts and crafts festival with more than 300 local and national vendors. Or check out Live After 5. Held through November on the last Friday of every month, the event features local bands, artisans, and crafters at Houma’s Historic Downtown Courthouse Square. There’s also Art After Dark, Grand Bois Intertribal Pow Wow, SLECA Farmer’s Market and Arts and Crafts Festival, Voice of the Wetlands Festival, Grand Bois Cajun/Swamp Pop/Zydeco Music Festival, and many more. In other words, something for everyone! For more information, visit www.houmatravel.com.
    Come to St. Landry Parish for fun, friendly people, and an abundance of history, including antebellum homes, historic churches and architecture included on the National Historic Register. Visitors can drive the Zydeco Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway and visit the Main Street communities of Eunice and Opelousas. St. Landry’s fall festival season kicks off with the 26th Original Southwest LA Zydeco Music Festival in Plaisance on Aug. 30. The Annual Atchafalaya Catfish Festival takes place in Melville, Sept. 6-9. In October, find the Opelousas Fall Music & Market Series, the 63rd Annual Louisiana Yambilee Festival and the 16th Annual Holy Ghost Creole Bazaar & Festival all in Opelousas. Also enjoy the 9th Annual St. Hubert Benevolent Society’s Squirrel Cook-off and the 17th Annual Washington Old Schoolhouse Antique Fair & Yard Sale Visitors can also check in on horse racing, culinary adventures at La Table Francàise, or the Rendez-vous des Cajuns Live Radio and TV show at the Liberty Theater. In November, “pig out” at the 23rd Annual Cracklin Festival in Port Barre or visit the “Icons by Sylvia Inzerella” Exhibit at the Opelousas Museum & Interpretive Center. No matter when you go, there’s always plenty to do in St. Landry.
 To plan a trip or find out more visit www.cajuntravel.com.
    Experience the charm of the original French colony in Louisiana. Established in 1714, Natchitoches offers authentic southern charm and natural beauty. Stroll beneath 300-year-old live oaks at one of the area’s Creole plantations. Relive history at the Cane River Creole National Historical Park at Oakland and Magnolia Plantations. Don’t miss your opportunity to visit the Landmark Historic District for its shopping, dining, and attractions. Take a horse and carriage tour and experience the Old Courthouse State Museum. Try a famous meat pie at the Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival, Sept. 12-13 or attend the Marthaville Good Ole Days Festival Sept. 19-20. October brings the Robeline Heritage Festival, the 54th Annual Historic Pilgrimage and the Adai Indian Pow Wow. In November, get ready to Turn on the Holidays with the premiere of Festival of Lights on Nov. 22 with a Holiday Open House, entertainment, fireworks and more! The 82nd Christmas Festival is Saturday, Dec. 6. There’s always a reason to celebrate in Louisiana oldest community.
    The Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call (800) 259-1714 or visit www.natchitoches.net.
    In the heart of downtown historic Natchitoches, the Church Street Inn offers the charm and personality of a bed and breakfast with the amenities of a fine hotel. Located within easy walking distance of fine dining, shopping, museums, Northwestern State University, and the beautiful Cane River Lake, the Church Street Inn is the first hotel of its kind in Natchitoches. The Inn has 20 elegant rooms from which to choose. Each room has its own unique view and personality, decorated with hand-carved mahogany furniture and furnished with themes taken from the history and unique culture of Natchitoches. The Inn also offers banquet and meeting facilities for parties up to 50 people. Recent renovations reflect the historic architecture of Natchitoches while keeping up-to-date with 21st century facilities. Take time out to enjoy the beautiful courtyard, balcony and lobby of the Inn. Let the accommodating staff take care, and enjoy a stay that combines the best of the old and new. For more information about the Inn visit www.churchstinn.com or call (800) 668-9298.

    Thousands annually flock to be awed and excited along the Holiday Trail of Lights. The trail of lights is the only holiday tour of its kind, spanning six cities across two states. Along the trail, visitors can expect millions of lights, as well as a variety of events held throughout the months of November and December, including fireworks, parades and live music.
    Shreveport-Bossier City’s December on the Red celebration (www.DecemberOnTheRed.com) is the center of the Holiday Trail of Lights with lights, holiday displays, and parades, along with festivals, live performances, tours and shopping. Kick off the season in a flash with the Rockets Over the Red fireworks display, the largest in the state. Or stop by the Country Christmas Festival or Christmas in Roseland. Deck the halls at The Louisiana Boardwalk, a nearly half-mile outdoor shopping center that erects a three-story Christmas tree each year, or watch a performance of the Nutcracker.
    In Natchitoches, The Christmas Festival draws in excess of 100,000 visitors each year for a parade, live entertainment, food fair, arts and crafts show, and spectacular fireworks. Mini-festivals are held every weekend in December with a Holiday Tour of Homes. More than 500,000 visitors annually trek to Natchitoches during the holiday season.
    For more information visit www.holidaytrailoflights.com.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection offers both residents and tourists in-depth and entertaining ways to explore Louisiana’s history. Changing exhibitions, permanent tours, and special events explore the history of New Orleans through art, architecture, historical objects and documents, live music, cocktails, and more! On Oct. 1. THNOC will open the exhibition A Closer Look: The Antebellum Photographs of Jay Dearborn Edwards, 1858–1861, which will feature some of the earliest-known paper photographs of New Orleans. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be on view in the Williams Gallery at 533 Royal Street. This fall, enjoy the monthly Concerts in the Courtyard series. September offers the Treme Brass Band and cocktails by Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon. October features Ingrid Lucia and cocktails by Sazerac Rye Whiskey, and November will bring Theresa Anderson to the historic setting.
    Guided tours of the Williams Residence, Louisiana History Galleries, and architecture of The Collection are available Tuesday–Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Admission for the tours is $5 per person.
     The Historic New Orleans Collection is located at 533 Royal Street. Its hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
     The Williams Research Center is located at 410 Chartres Street. Its hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.hnoc.org.

     Natural Louisiana beauty and rich cultural traditions come together in Lafourche Parish. The parish offers camping, fishing, picnicking, and lots more to see and do. Visitors to Lafourche Parish can tour The Jean Lafitte National Park Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center to learn about how the area was settled, or they can visit one of the areas historical sites, like the E.D. White Historic Site, the Bayou Lafourche Folklife and Heritage Museum, the Golden Meadow Historical Center, and more. Visitors can explore Native American culture at The United Houma Nation Tribal Center. There is also a free narrated Walking Tour of Thibodaux offered daily, which begins at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. There are also boat tours and live Cajun jam sessions. This fall, Lafourche Parish offers a number of festivals, including the Cajun Heritage Festival, the 37th Annual Louisiana Gumbo Festival, the 35th Annual French Food Festival, the Cut Off Youth Center Fair and the Thibodeauxville Fall Festival. Each of the festivals feature authentic Cajun food and also have designated areas with local artisans and cultural and heritage demonstrations.
    Visit www.visitlafourche.com to find out more information.

Tucked between the swamps of the Atchafalaya and the state capital of Baton Rouge, Iberville Parish is renowned for its historic and natural beauty. Families can make a day of touring the Plaquemine Lock facility, which played a critical role in Mississippi River transportation; the Iberville Museum, Veterans Memorial and historic downtown Plaquemine with its beautiful buildings, Waterfront Park, and shopping at the historic train depot. In October, the largest plantation home in the south, Nottoway Plantation will re-open after extensive renovations. Visitors can also while away an afternoon in nature, taking advantage of the parish’s beautiful swamps and scenic byways, or get a taste for the area at its great Cajun restaurants. The International Acadian Festival on Oct. 17-19, features rides, games, great food, bull-riding, bands, and a parade on Sunday morning. Visitors to Iberville Parish in November can also witness the Veterans Day dedication of Iberville Parish’s new Veteran’s Memorial. The Nov. 11 event will include a parade, display of military equipment, a dedication with military guard, bands and a fly-over. It’s guaranteed to be an impressive show!
    To find out more about Iberville Parish go to www.ibervilleparish.com.     With diverse culture, history, museums, shopping, and fine dining, Baton Rouge offers visitors plenty to see and do. Louisiana’s capital city, Baton Rouge blends Cajun, Creole and Southern influences with city amenities and celebrates everyday in Louisiana style. This fall, visit Baton Rouge to root for LSU’s football team as they try for victory. Not to be missed and definitely worth traveling for, the LSU campus welcomes more than 125,000 tailgaters each home game. Friday evenings, enjoy Live After Five’s live musical performances by various artists in downtown Baton Rouge. Explore new cultures at the International Festival in November, or get a read on new talent at October’s Louisiana Book Festival, a world-class celebration of readers, writers and books. The annual Louisiana Book Festival, for children and adults, features over 100 outstanding authors, storytellers and book professionals in an exciting program of book talks, demonstrations, performances, and activities. There’s lots for families to do in Baton Rouge, including Alligator Bayou, the Baton Rouge Zoo, the Shaw Center for the Arts, the Red Stick Farmer’s Market on Main Street, and historical sites like the Old State Capitol Building. For more information about Louisiana ’s capital city, call (800) LA-ROUGE or visit www.visitbatonrouge.com.  
    It’s almost football season, and that means rooting for LSU. When going to the game, stay at the Hilton Capitol Center, a beautifully appointed luxury hotel in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge. A shuttle is offered that runs to the stadium and back on game days so that guests won’t miss a tackle, a touchdown, or any of Third Street’s entertainment before and after the game. But even if there’s no game, there’s still plenty to see and do. The hotel is within walking distance of the Old State Capitol, LSU Museum of Art and the Manship Theatre and more. Or just stay in and enjoy the atmosphere inside. Originally built in 1927 and currently listed on the National Register of Historical Places, the hotel offers history alongside modern amenities. Guests can take advantage of the third floor pool and garden deck or follow a walking map that points out all of the historical architectural features throughout the hotel including The Tunnel, which is rumored to have been used by Huey P. Long to evade the press. Special packages are always available at the Hilton that include breakfast and other dining and spa options.
    For more information, call (225) 344-5866 or visit www.hiltoncapitolcenter.com for more information.

    Travel to central Louisiana to find a gumbo of friendly people, good food, history, and culture in Avoyelles Parish. Home to the “Pearl of Louisiana” – Paragon Casino Resort, guests can play and experience great golf, movies, concerts, fun and food at Louisiana’s first land-based casino. Avoyelles Parish is rich in wildlife and fishing opportunities with five state and national wildlife refugees. Native American culture runs deep in Avoyelles, where visitors can check out the Marksville State Historic Site with a museum based on prehistoric Indian culture. While in Avoyelles, stay in the historic Bailey Hotel in Bunkie to get a taste of the local hospitality. With 25 listings on the National Register of Historical Places including a Commercial Historical District around Courthouse Square, Yellow Bayou Civil War Site, T&P Railroad Depot., Marksville State Historic Site, and more. Everyday’s a celebration in Avoyelles Parish, and festivals throughout the Fall celebrate food and culture.
    For additional information visit www.travelavoyelles.com, call (800) 833-4195 or write to Avoyelles Commission of Tourism at 8592 Hwy 1, Suite 3, Mansura, LA 71350.

    Located on opposite banks of the Red River, Alexandria and Pineville, encompass everything that is Louisiana. Thriving agriculture, historic landmarks, rich culture steeped in heritage, and cozy bed and breakfasts are just some of the many unique characteristics of central Louisiana. Families can visit The Alexandria Museum of Art or the T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum. The Alexandria Zoo, noted as being one of the best small zoos in the south, includes over 600 animals. Bringhurst Field, a historic ballpark, offers baseball and special events. There’s also lots of nature to explore, with world-class golfing and hiking. Tour plantation homes, and historical and cultural venues, like the Arna Bontemps African American Museum, the Louisiana History Museum, and the Southern Forest Heritage Museum. Annual fall events in Alexandria and Pineville include Kent House Sugar Day, Brown Bag Outdoor Concerts, Junior League’s A Very Merry Market, Alexandria Zoo Boo, Downtown Rocks Concerts, Lecompte Pie Festival, Rapides Symphony Orchestra Pops on the River, LA Pecan Festival, Rapides Parish Fair, and so much more. Come discover the “Heart of Louisiana.”
    For additional information on the Alexandria/Pineville area, visit the Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.theheartoflouisiana.com or call (800) 551-9546.

    While in the Alexandria area, stay at the Best Western for comfortable accommodations and reasonable prices. Best Western offers 190 guest rooms, a beautiful indoor atrium with a heated pool and hot tub, outdoor swimming pool and children’s wading pool. Dine in their award-winning Cajun Landing Restaurant & Lounge. Or simply sit back and take advantage of their Southern Hospitality. The Best Western has a conference complex with meeting room facilities to accommodate 10-850 people and full catering services. Great for family reunions, meetings and weddings. Located close enough to see all the best that central Louisiana towns like Pineville and Alexandria have to offer. Come for the LeCompte Pie Festival or the Rapides Parish Fair. Visit sites from the Ya-Ya Sisterhood or take to the green at one of the areas many golf courses. Best Western offers a number of packages to plan a great vacation.
 Visit www.bestwestern.com to find out more.

    Located just 20 minutes south of Alexandria, Loyd Hall is convenient to city attractions yet far enough to feel a world away. This historic Bed and Breakfast property was built by William Loyd, a rebellious member of the famed Lloyds of London family, around 1820, and is known for both its Civil War history and ghostly folklore. The family-oriented bed and breakfast offers five cottages as well as two luxury suites located in the plantation home. All of the cottages are located behind Loyd Hall and include a kitchenette area and private bath with views of the pasture and swimming pool. The Loyd Hall Suites, located on the second floor of the historic home, are 1000 square feet of luxury living including a parlor room, bedroom, and master bath with two-person, clawfoot, air jet jacuzzi tubs. Guests of Loyd Hall can enjoy swimming in the pool, fishing in the bayou, feeding the property’s miniature horses and donkeys, or relaxing on the grounds of the historic property. Perfect for corporate retreats/functions, luncheons, family reunions, weddings, and other special events. Loyd Hall is a glance into the old Antebellum south.
    For more information visit www.loydhall.com or call (888) 602-LOYD.

    With lots to do and friendly people, Webster Parish is a perfect getaway for fall. Located outside of Shreveport in Northern Louisiana, Webster Parish features scenic vistas, history, and culture and small town living near big city conveniences. Webster Parish has a rural, country-like atmosphere that provides plenty of opportunities to pursue outdoor activities like fishing and golfing. Visitors can stay in and cozy up at a romantic bed and breakfast or explore historic downtown Minden, historic downtown Springhill, or the Germantown Colony Museum. Grab a bite at local eateries or dine in style at area fine dining restaurants. While in Webster Parish, guests can take part in Louisiana culture and attend a rodeo or Native American Pow Wow, or celebrate at one of the many festivals throughout fall, like the Bluegrass Festival, the Monster Ball at the Farm, Moon over Minden, the Lumberjack Festival and more. From car shows to art colonies, Webster Parish provides something for everyone.
    Go to www.visitwebster.com to find out more about all that Webster Parish has to offer.

    This fall, experience the beautiful scenery, culture, and community events parish-wide in Pointe Coupee. Surrounded by rivers and basins, dotted with lakes and ponds both large and small, Pointe Coupee Parish is a Sportsman’s Paradise. There, you’ll find the city of New Roads, the “Chemin Neuf,” created in 1822 after early Louisiana settlers carved out a shortcut from False River to the Mississippi. The city sits along False River, a 22-mile long oxbow shaped lake that offers skiing, fishing, boating and party barges, jet skis, and cabin rentals that are great for a family getaway. New Roads also offers activities for families. Visit old plantation homes or see horse shows with barrel racing at The Multi-Use Center. Enjoy free outdoor movies on Fridays, or dance to Live Music on Main Street during the first Friday of every month. Festivals abound throughout Pointe Coupee Parish in fall. Celebrate the 1950s and ’60s at the Oldies But Goodies Fest, Oct. 11-12, or see Arts, Artists, Authors in November. There’s plenty to do for the whole family, and it’s all “Right Out Back.”
    For more information about Pointe Coupee Parish visit www.pctourism.org or www.pcchamber.org. And to learn more about New Roads visit www.newroads.net.

    Relax by the rolling Mississippi on the new riverwalk or spend the day exploring in Concordia Parish, one of Louisiana’s great getaways. While in Concordia, dine in one of the specialty, chef-owned restaurants like The Duck’s Nest on Lake St. John and Slough Daddy’s on the Mississippi, or visit one of the area’s homage to the past. The State of Louisiana Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame offers a closer view of the lives of famous Delta musicians and this fall presents the Smithsonian exhibit, New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music. Or tour Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins, the only site in the South which offers tours of both historical cotton plantation life and slave culture along with the only completely computerized gin in the U.S. where visitors can tour the gin and view the cotton harvest in action. In fact, festivals and events will be happening all fall in Concordia. September brings the Jim Bowie Festival and State of Louisiana BBQ Contest. Picking and Ginning at Frogmore and the Natchez Fall Pilgrimage with tours of private antebellum homes and theatrical specials continue into October. Mid-October, get carried away at the Balloon Fest, with a weekend of hot air balloons and live music.
    For more information about the great towns and events in Concordia Parish visit www.SeeVidalia.com or www.ferridaychamber.com.

    Deep in the heart of Cajun country, discover the rich history of French, Spanish, and Caribbean ancestry in a place that celebrates the spirit of joie de vivre. Lafayette offers a host of activities for visitors, along with delicious local cuisine, stunning architecture, and the beauty of bayous, cypress forests, and greenery. Families can spend the day at the Children’s Museum of Acadiana or take a walk on the wild side with a swamp tour or a trip to the Zoo of Acadiana. Enjoy the architectural majesty of Vermilionville, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, and Shadows-on-the-Teche plantation. Or simply sit back and relax at a local café. An easy weekend trip from Slidell, Baton Rouge or New Orleans, Lafayette is an accessible vacation getaway. This fall, Lafayette offers festivals galore. Dance the night away at Downtown Alive, every Friday from Sept. 5-Nov. 21 or spend a lunch hour at Bach Lunch, a noon-time concert series with lunches available for purchase at the Lafayette Natural History Museum. Oct. 10-12, discover new cultural traditions at the Festivals Acadiens et Creoles with music, food, and children’s activities.
    For information about what to see and do visit www.Lafayette.travel.com.     Everyone loves to eat. So why not go on a culinary adventure? While in Lafayette, get a taste of the real Louisiana at Prejean’s Restaurant. Offering award winning Cajun cuisine in a fun and family-oriented environment, Prejean’s creates daily specials using fresh seasonal ingredients. As the weather cools, Prejean’s serves up hearty Louisiana dishes like duck and andouille gumbo and Crawfish Enchiladas, just to name a few. Prejean’s combines local ambiance with traditional cuisine in their eclectic dining room. “Big Al,” a 14-foot alligator sits center stage, and the turtle tank is certain to keep the kids enthralled. Visitors can get in step with live Cajun music every night and during Saturday and Sunday breakfast, and a gift shop let’s guests take home a piece of Acadiana with cookbooks, Cajun music CD’s and Prejean’s products for sale.
    Prejean’s is open seven days a week from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Complete menus and private dining information can be found at www.prejeans.com.     Visit Vermilion Parish, the “most Cajun place on earth,” with nearly 50 percent of residents claiming Cajun ancestry for excellent, locally owned restaurants featuring Cajun and Creole recipes, history, and fun. Visit the Acadian Museum of Erath, the Abbeville Cultural and Historical Museum, Le Musee de la Ville de Kaplan and the Gueydan Museum to learn about the culture and history of Vermilion’s towns. Or check out the traveling Smithsonian exhibit, New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music Exhibit. At Stansel Rice in Gueydan, tour a working rice mill and see how they raise, harvest, dry mill and package their own labels of rice, flour and fish fry. Vermilion Parish has many outdoor activities available. Drive the American’s Wetlands Birding Trail, or visit one of Vermilion’s piers to fish, crab, or look for alligators. Vermilion celebrates in autumn with the Louisiana Cattle Festival in Abbeville, Oct. 9-12, which will feature parades, carnival rides, pageants and more. In November, see Abbeville’s Giant Omelette Celebration, an international festival that ends with the cooking of a 5,000 egg omelet. “If Headstones Could Talk…” at St. Mary Magdalen Cemetery provides a guided tour of the cemetery where “residents” recount stories of what life was like in Abbeville at the turn of the 20th century.
    For more information visit www.MostCajun.com.     Visit Ruston and Lincoln Parish this fall season to enjoy the performing arts and one of Louisiana’s most unique festivals. Just north of Ruston, the annual Louisiana Chicken Festival Sept. 26-27 takes place in the heart of downtown Dubach. Travel the short distance and enjoy one of Louisiana ’s most unique festival experiences geared towards family and fun. This year’s festival includes, music, arts and craft show, hot air balloon rides, parade and quilt show. While in Dubach, visitors can learn about rural frontier life with a visit to the Autrey House. Built in 1849, it is the oldest surviving structure in Lincoln Parish. For a complete run down of festival events, visit www.dubachla.com.     Ruston and Lincoln Parish is also bustling with theatre excitement. As part of the 2008-2009 season, the Dixie Center for the Arts will present Whirled News Tonight on Oct. 20. A part of Chicago’s famous improv comedy iO Theater, audiences members will decide the show by picking out the stories from various local and national publications. They will cut out the articles and place them on a board. Then the cast will randomly select articles on which to base their improvisations. Over two years, Whirled News Tonight has been selling out theatres around the country. To find out more about all of the Dixie Center for the Arts upcoming events, visit www.dixiecenter.org.
    For more exciting Lincoln Parish events, go to www.experienceruston.com.     For a unique experience, come watch tomorrow’s horse racing champions as they come of age and come to auction at the Breeders Sales Company of Louisiana Annual Yearling Sale, Sept. 29. Held at the Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe, buyers and sellers will gather to auction off over 300 year-old horses during the day-long event. Many of the yearling horses sold at the auction will go on to horse racing careers. Visitors and buyers can watch the process of buying or make a bid. Horses are expected to sell at prices from a few thousand dollars up to $100,000 or more. The event is open to the public. Doors open at 10 a.m. and the sale will last until evening.
    For more information about the sale or the Breeder’s Association visit www.louisianabred.com.     Rich in music, art, dance, foods, and storytelling The Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival attracts world class artists and tourists from throughout the region. This year the festival will be held at the climate-controlled Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe on October 25-26. The heart of the festival is music, but around every corner there will be something new to discover. The Highland Games feature events celebrating Scottish and Celtic culture and heritage. The games are centered on competitions in piping and drumming, dancing, and Scottish heavy athletics, such as the caber (pole) toss. A children’s area will have games, crafts, storytellers, dancers and entertainers. Food and beverage offerings will include authentic Celtic tastes including Scottish eggs and Guinness beer. Over 27 bands and artists are scheduled to play everything from traditional Irish folk songs to a foot-stomping mix of all original high energy modern rock and traditional Scottish and Irish music – from bluegrass to a tribute to John Lennon.  
    The Festival runs from 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 per day. Active military, senior citizens and college student $5 with ID. Children under 12 free. For more information visit www.nelacelticfest.net.

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