When I’m out of state and mention Louisiana the conversation goes to New Orleans and Mardi Gras. That’s because over the years those are the stories that have repeatedly been told. Other areas of the state have stories too. The oldest city is Natchitoches not New Orleans. The third city was Opelousas. In exploring the Bayou State I’m amazed how much of our history is hidden or forgotten. It’s time to re-tell the stories.
The Tourism Week barnstorming trip around the state in May 2013, my eyes were opened to Concordia Parish. Until visiting Frogmore with the group my exposure to this area was limited to getting through it as fast as possible while watching for speed traps. After that short visit I realized I really needed to slow down and smell the magnolias.
Concordia Parish (Latin for “harmony”) has a unique and colorful past. Frontiersman Jim Bowie with his Bowie Knife fought what came to be known as the Sandbar Fight following a duel in 1827. He lived in central Louisiana before moving to Texas and fighting at the Alamo. The Sandbar fight is reenacted each fall in Vidalia during the Jim Bowie Festival. On our way to Frogmore we can go by and see the site by the river.
Frogmore near Jonesville is an 1800 acre working plantation. When there is cotton in the field to be picked, visitors can try their hand picking cotton – hands on history. The house was built by Daniel Morris in 1818. It was one of 18 plantations owned by John Gillespie in the 1800’s. Now this property is a one of a kind illustration of a historical and current cotton plantation. The restored buildings include slave quarters, the plantation store and church. Different tours feature various events acted out in period costumes.
After enjoying the plantation grounds and tours we’ll drive into Jonesville for lunch at Jackie’s Riverside Steak and Seafood. The Little River into the Ouchita and then becomes the Black River before joining the Red River. This restaurant is highly rated for food and friendly service.
Rest and regroup on the way. It’s time to head for a glimpse of Louisiana’s musical past in Ferriday, the home of the Delta Music Museum. Famous musicians and cousins Micky Gilly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggert all called this area home. Talented musicians and popular in different music genres, all three are internationally know. Exhibits representing Blues, Rock, Gospel and Bluegrass show the variety of musical styles represented in our state.
While in town we can also visit The Jerry Lee Lewis Museum. Run by a cousin this site preserves more personal memorabilia. In addition his cousin gives her first hand account of this flamboyant performer’s youth. Also featured is Jerry Lee’s sister, Linda Gale Lewis who is also popular to international audiences.
For supper we’ll head to Duck’s Nest II on beautiful Lake St. John. This ox bow lake is a popular spot to catch blue catfish. But we’re going to let someone else catch the fish. Instead we’ll relax at the outdoor tables and watch the sun go down over the lake. For an appetizer we can share their seafood platter then follow it up with individual entrees. Bon appetit’.
The next morning we’ll explore the Sicily Island area of Catahoula Parish. After a good nights sleep and our morning coffee we’ll head for the Skillet Cafe for breakfast.
Prior to the state tour all I knew about Sicily Island was they were a 1A high school. There is a lot more to know about this area. DeSoto explored this area. A Jewish farming colony was attempted here. The Catahoula Cur has it’s roots here. And the flood of 1927 covered all but the highest points of this parish. In Catahoula Parish History it is noted that in 1835, 243 bear skins were shipped on keel or flatboat. Settled early in Louisiana’s historic past this is the heart of “Sportman’s Paradise”
Our destination after breakfast is Sicily Island Hills WMA. This is an extremely rugged part of the state. It supports a very diverse selection of plants and animals including some endangered species such as the Cooper’s Hawk and the Louisiana Slimy Salamander.
This area is close enough to Baton Rouge to make a day trip and there are things to see that will fill several days. In our 24 Passenger Mini-Bus the whole family or a group of friends can travel together. Refreshments can be brought on board and supplies for a base camp stored in the luggage closet.
Remember, “We drive … You have fun!”