Grab your festival chair and bring an appetite. Postponed from January 6, Bywater Bakery’s Annual King Cake Block Party, this year benefiting the New Orleans Musicians Clinic’s Making Groceries initiative, will take place this Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. There will be live performances, food, drinks, and loads of king cakes. Here’s the incredible music line-up for this amazing FREE festival: 11 a.m. Secret Six jazz sextet; 12 p.m. Buko Do Churo Rosalynn De Roo Brasilian Trio; 1 p.m. Duo Louisianne Glenn Hartman & Washboard Chaz; 2 p.m. Aurora Nealand & Sunpie Barnes; 3 p.m. Soul Brass Band; 3:30 p.m. Deacon John & Super Group –  Herlin Riley, David Torkanowski, Wendell Brunious, Corey Henry, Detroit Brooks, Chris Severin, Glen David Andrews, Aaron Fletcher, Matt Perrine; 4 p.m. John Boutte; 4:30 p.m. Al “Carnival Time” Johnson; 5 p.m. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux Mardi Gras Indian Threuxdown.

Since the pandemic began, Bywater Bakery has generously donated fresh baked bread weekly and seasonal treats for the New Orleans Musician’s Clinic’s Makin’ Groceries program. Launched in 2020, Makin’ Groceries provides weekly, home-delivered care packages of nutritious groceries, prepared meals, community health education materials, and lagniappe to over one hundred elderly and medically vulnerable NOMC patients and their families.

In support of community wellness, the block party will also serve as a Covid testing site, vaccinations and booster shots will be available, and a blood drive will be held. Then there’s king cake: Nine sweet varieties and three savory varieties will be available.

Thinking about a Valentine’s weekend getaway? Consider charming Downtown Ponchatoula, home of the recently opened Twin Steeples Creative Arts Center, currently exhibiting paintings by Kalle Siekkinen and photography by Erin Rode-Fiorello. On February 11, at 6 p.m. Rode-Fiorello, also a woodworker, will give a talk regarding her experiences in this male-dominated field. On February 25, vocalist and musician Miriam Brown will perform at 6 p.m.

Twin Steeples Creative Arts Center
Twin Steeples Creative Arts Center

The center was founded by the late Harry Gabriel to serve the small city’s over-sized population of visual and performing artists and musicians. The spectacular arts center is comprised of two historic churches, both with soaring steeples, which were laboriously relocated to face one another across a courtyard. Light pours through brilliant stained glass in one gallery, while the other affords exceptional acoustics. Twin Steeples hosts a year-round performing arts series, juried art exhibits, writing and philosophy contests, musical gatherings, theatrical performances, and film screenings. The vast majority of programming is FREE.

The downtown area is highly walkable with a variety of Air BnB accommodations, restaurants, bars, music clubs, locally owned clothing, collectible, and antique shops, and small museums. Paul’s Café specializes in Southern breakfast spreads. Roux and Brew serves up sizzling steaks and seafood for dinner as well as Saturday brunch. There is a large, covered patio with an abundance of heaters, live music, creative specialty drinks, and funky bar. Nearby Kane’s Deli has a devoted following for outstanding daily plate lunches at thrifty prices: Think two pieces of baked chicken with rice and gravy for $4.

Double Cut Pork Chop At Roux And Brew
Double Cut Pork Chop at Roux and Brew

Axe throwing is the latest national obsession for everything from date nights to company team building events and tiny Ponchatoula is in front of the trend. Louisiana Axes is the most popular spot in town with seven sports themed bays where you can pitch axes and a giant court where every guest can play the field and brag about their winning scores.

The Collinswood Museum explores the elements of Ponchatoula’s history through exhibits focused on its celebrated strawberry farms, the Cypress Forest industry, the railroad, Native American artifacts, early settlers, and military history including The U.S.S. Ponchatoula. Several events are planned for the coming weeks:

February 9 -13- Find your Heart in Downtown Ponchatoula – Scavenger Hunt with chances to win items from participating downtown shops; February 19- Krewe of Nizhoni Mardi Gras Parade and Tangipahoa Black Business Appreciation Expo (11 a.m. – 5 p.m.); February 26- Mystic Cruise Car Show; and March 4-6- Antique Trade Days. For more information on these events visit downtownponchatoula.com