Students discover historic Natchitoches locations

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By Hannah Richardson

Students had the opportunity to learn about the parish’s historic locations during the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches’ (APHN) Third Grade Children’s Historical Tour Sept. 20-24. The annual tours were not able to take place last year due to Covid-19, but the APHN was glad to bring them back for 2021.

Natchitoches Wood

Third grade groups from M.R Weaver, Natchitoches Magnet, NSU E-Lab, Fairview Alpha, Goldonna Elementary, Marthaville Elementary, St. Mary’s School, Oasis of Love Academy and Provencal Elementary had orderly tours for the Lemee House, Prud-homme Rouquier House, Trinity Episcopal Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and Roque House/Beau Jardin.

Students also toured the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, made Play-Dough meat pies at First United Methodist Church and enjoyed music by Ed Huey on the Fleur de Lis Stage while having refreshments including cookies and lemonade made by Natchitoches Regional Medical Center employees and handed out by Lions Club members. The tours are also made possible by the Cane River Creole Heritage Area and volunteers from the APHN, Les Amies Club and Hall of Fame Museum staff.

The children’s tours are also special as, alongside APHN members, local eighth grade interpreters from St. Mary’s, Magnet and Middle Lab take on the lives of the historical figures and former residents to make the experience as authentic as possible.

While, unfortunately, the APHN will not host a Fall Tour of Homes for 2021, they are excited to bring a new, and hopefully annual, event in October- the Folk Art Festival at Melrose Plantation, 3533 Hwy 119, in Melrose..

The festival will feature dozens of folk artists from Louisiana and around the South displaying and selling their handcrafted, original arts from booths set up across the beautiful grounds. Folk artists use traditional methods, materials and/or designs. They may draw upon artistic legacies passed down from previous generations or reflect their specific cultural heritage within their work.

Works for display and sale at the festival will include paintings and drawings, glasswork, textiles, metalwork, basketry and woodworking. Admissions will be sold at the gate. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for children aged 6-11. The hours of the festival are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday.

The first Melrose Folk Art Festival has announced their Featured Artist: Kathy Tate Davis. Natchitoches artist Kathy Tate Davis has been an Okra Pod Artist since 1993. She makes original hand-made sculptures from dried okra pods and other products of nature. Pine cones and gourds are added for larger pieces. Davis will have a booth at the festival, displaying and selling her distinctive folk art pieces. Davis will be featured in the upcoming fall 2022 issue of “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.” She is a current member of the Natchitoches Art Guild and Gallery. Over the past 28 years, her art has been published in “Southern Living,” “The Farm Market Bulletin,” “Teddy Bear Scene” and various newspaper articles.

Among the dozens of artists to be featured, there will be NSU Art Demons, folk dancers, food trucks and more. Tours of the Big House and African House will be available for an additional charge.

This event is inspired by Clementine Hunter, the famous folk artist who lived and worked at Melrose, and whose works are available for viewing at African House on site. Oct. 1 has been designated “Clementine Hunter Day” by the State of Louisiana. Funds raised from this event will support the ongoing preservation of Melrose Plantation, a National Historic Site. In case of inclement weather, a rain date has been set for the following weekend.

The organizers will follow all federal, state and local mandates relating to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Any changes to the festival will be announced through social media and the website.

For more information, visit www.melroseplantation.org/festivals or “Melrose Plantation” on Facebook.