Travel, tourism, family and fireworks

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Photo by Brad Ferguson

All come together at the “Crossroads” of Louisiana

Natchitoches

By Carolyn Roy

carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

Natchitoches Parish continues to receive recognition from the La. Office of Tourism and hopefully will enjoy more tourists as a result. Arlene Gould, executive director of the Natchitoches Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that the Parish has been designated “Destination for Louisiana,” in December. The office will feature an area each month and will begin the spotlight with Natchitoches Parish. According to a letter from Rosie Lawler in the Tourism Marketing department of the La. Office of Tourism, each month, one destination in Louisiana will be chosen to receive multi-platform to encourage in-state travel by citizens of Louisiana.

The destinations will rotate between north, southwest and southeast regions of the state.   Each month, the destination will be featured on digital billboards in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Monroe, Lafayette and Lake Charles.  Each destination will receive 1,000 radio commercials running across the Louisiana Radio Network.  Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser will record a spot for each destination encouraging Louisiana citizens to visit the “Destination of the Month.”  The area will receive a full-page advertisement in Louisiana Life or Acadian Life as both of these publications are only produced every other month.  They will receive a full-page ad in SB Magazine.  Each destination will receive coverage in the Louisiana Life Newsletter.  Louisiana Travel will promote the “Destination Louisiana” highlighted area in the monthly E-News, on the Louisiana Travel website and across Louisiana Travel social media platforms.

Gould also talked about another marketing program, “La. Cultural Shopping Trails,” that will be announced at the Holiday Trail of Lights media event Natchitoches Nov. 18 at the La. Sports Hall of Fame. Sites in Natchitoches and the Parish will be listed on a new website that will be unveiled at the Nov. 18 meeting. The website will highlight businesses that want to be included on the site, at no cost to merchants. It will include sites in the parish, other than the City, such as pecan producers. The website will include an interactive map of participating businesses. Gould said Nungesser is encouraging Louisiana residents to take “staycations” in which they spend vacations within the State.

Turn on the Holidays

photo by Brad Ferguson

City of Natchitoches

We deem all of our Christmas Festival events as extraordinary, but this one is really special to the Christmas Festival Committee, the City of Natchitoches and local residents. That’s because for almost a year, construction actually began Jan. 9, the downtown riverbank has been off limits while undergoing a multi-million dollar makeover. Funded by the Cane River Waterway Commission and the City of Natchitoches, the new riverbank area features a state of the art Riverbank Stage and lawn terraced amphitheater seating across from the stage on the riverbank.

There are handicapped ramps constructed on the north end for access from Front Street and the steps on the south end have been reconstructed. New restrooms and a boat-docking pier are located at the south end. A new Santa Clause House, still under construction, is located next to the restrooms, also under construction, and a promenade runs along the river edge. Turn on the Holidays Saturday, Nov. 18, officially kicks off the holiday season in Natchitoches. All activities associated with Turn on the Holidays program are free to the public. From 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Natchitoches will be abuzz with activities ushering in the Christmas season. Kids Fest will be on the south end of the riverbank along with food vendors. The day opens with the Les Amies Christmas Treasures Arts and Crafts Sale from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Natchitoches Events Center.

The Historic District Business Association will host a Holiday Open House from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. The Mike McKenzie Band will kick off the three hours of musical entertainment on the riverbank stage at 4:30 p.m. The first night of fireworks displays will light up the downtown area over Cane River at 7 p.m. Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs will be on stage at 7:30 p.m. for a two hour-set and warming up the crowd for the headline entertainer of the evening, Joe Stampley. Stampley, a Louisiana Music Hall of Famer, as a solo artist, as a member of a group, and as a songwriter, is a favorite of the Natchitoches crowd.

State Parks

By Leigh Guidry

Lafayette Daily Advertiser

USA TODAY NETWORK

Editor’s Note: Guidry is a former Natchitoches Times reporter and NSU graduate. She will be attending Turn on the Holidays and visiting a local state park this month. Twenty-one state parks.

Avery Guidry, 3, looks for tadpoles, frogs and fish at Sam Houston Jones State Park. Photo by Leigh Guidry/USA Today Network

Four Guidrys.  That’s how I sum up this adventure my little family of four is embarking on to see and explore our state. We are hitting the road every Sunday afternoon to see all of Louisiana’s state parks. In case you haven’t gotten it yet, there are 21.

While it won’t be the first time for my husband and me at some of the parks, it will be our first time as a family. It’s something special to see the world through little kids’ eyes. I’m looking forward to that and the time spent together outdoors. We started Sunday by taking our girls, ages 3 and 10 months, to Sam Houston Jones State Park in Moss Bluff (near Lake Charles). Find our takeaways here. Next we will visit the other state parks within an hour or so of Lafayette, our home base. And then we’ll branch out even further.

That’s the plan, anyway. We hope you’ll join us on this journey, give us tips about what to see or avoid, and learn from our experiences with us. You can follow along on Instagram at @thedailyadvertiser or at theadvertiser.com, where you’ll find lots of great content about what these parks offer as well as super cute baby photos (I’m biased) in the beautiful scenery of Louisiana.

I will connect all my coverage of this journey with links here, so you can come back to this link to find everything in one place. * Our first trip: 7 things you need to do at Sam Houston Jones State Park Plus, I’ll be sharing everything with the hashtags #advertiseradventures, #stateparkselfie, #stateparksunday and #theGuidrysgeaux. A search of any of those should pull it right up. Let’s geaux!

Travel and tourism reporter Leigh Guidry and her family are embarking on an adventure to explore their own state. They’re visiting all 21 Louisiana state parks. They started at Sam Houston Jones State Park in Moss Bluff. Follow the journey on Instagram (@thedailyadvertisesr) and at theadvertiser.com.  Leigh Guidry/USA Today Network