Fall Fest has record number of visitors


Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc. (CRNHA) and the Cane River Creole National Historical Park hosted the inaugural Cane River Fall Fest Saturday, Oct. 27 at Oakland Plantation. Attendance swelled to over 525 people, the highest single day visitation recorded at the park since 2014.

Activities included blacksmith and living history demonstrations, harvest crafts, pumpkin decorating, historical games, face painting, music and guided tours. “We are thrilled that so many of our neighbors came out to their national park to celebrate the season with us,” remarked Barbara Justice, Chief of Interpretation at Cane River Creole NHP.  “Local children of all ages and 90 eighth graders from the Donnie Bickham Middle School in Shreveport explored life on a plantation and experienced the wonder of harvest season on the Cane River,” continued Justice.

The Cane River Fall Fest is one half of a two-part festival series designed to “encourage our children and youth to get outside and explore our public lands, and discover the stories that define who we are and what we value,” said Rebecca Blankenbaker, CRNHA Executive Director. “In recent years, we have focused on building local awareness of our National Park and the National Heritage Area by creating kid-friendly events that will inspire a new generation of leaders to serve as stewards for our national wonders and hallowed places,” Blankenbaker said.

From left, Meghan Bailey, Emery Wenninger, Hattie Bailey, and Hannah Wenninger weave their own baskets under the oak trees at Oakland Plantation.

The event was sponsored by a grant from Eastern National, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit cooperating association, that promotes the public’s understanding and support of America’s national parks and other public trust partners by providing quality educational experiences, products and services.

Planning is underway for the third annual Find Your Park Festival, the second part of this festival series, which is in the spring during National Park Week. Other seasonal events include the Cane River Creole National Historical Park Two Wheels Towards History program, a guided bike ride scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17.

This free ride begins at Oakland Plantation at 9 a.m. Riders will cruise from Oakland Plantation to Cherokee Plantation, a 6-mile round trip. Once at Cherokee, participants will receive a behind the scenes tour of the site.

The park provides bicycles, helmets and water or bring your own. Reservations are required. Call Ranger Tim at 318-352-0383, ext. 201. Oakland Plantation is located at 4386 Highway 494, Natchez, LA 71456.