Saturday, December 11, 2010
Mardi Gras in Lake Charles is in swing starting Twelfth Night, January 6. But the bulk of the activities crank up for Mardi Gras weekend, March 4-8. Not many people realize this, but outside New Orleans, Lake Charles has the largest Mardi Gras concerning number of krewes. The area has almost 60 krewes. Lake Charles is also the only place in the state to see all royal kings, queens and courts promenade in their exquisite costumes in one place - at the Royal Gala, March 7, the night before Mardi Gras!

For a full listing of Mardi Gras events, including parades, children's activities, canine costumes, gumbo cookoffs and more, visit www.swlamardigras.com.

FOR MARDI GRAS HOTEL PACKAGES:
www.visitlakecharles.org/visitors/mardigraspackages
Monday, October 11, 2010
Ringing in a Cajun Christmas in Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana
The spirit of Christmas and the holiday cheer start early in Southwest Louisiana. There are some great art pieces, fine homemade jewelry and unique creations, perfect for gifts at several upcoming events. Mark your calendars for these great shopping excursions:

Kiwanis Christmas at Jackson Square West:
Fine Art & Authentic Handmade Crafts
November 5–7
The first weekend in November marks the time for hundreds of expert artisans and crafters to display and sell their products to many eager shoppers at the largest art and handicraft fair in Southwest Louisiana. Sponsored by the Kiwanis of South Lake Charles since 1972, this event offers one-of-a-kind art that will enhance any space. The featured artist this year is Dianne Christopher with the Picasseaux Art Studio from New Roads, LA. Check out the sneak preview, gumbo and silent auction Friday from 6–9 p.m. Get a head start on holiday shopping. Weekend hours are Saturday from 10 a.m.– 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, call (337) 532-3839. www.visitlakecharles.org/jacksonsquare

Mistletoe and Moss
November 17–20
The Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc. celebrates the 18th Annual Mistletoe & Moss Holiday Market Wednesday–Saturday, Nov. 17–20. A holiday tradition, this year’s market is sure to be spectacular! With over 80 merchants, the event will be held in the Exhibition Hall and Coliseum of the Lake Charles Civic Center, and shoppers will catch the holiday spirit as they experience the sights and sounds of festive holiday decorations and entertainment while shopping for Christmas goodies!

Be the first to shop the 2010 Holiday Market Merchants during the Plantation & Pearls Preview Party Gala featuring cuisine from the finest area restaurants plus cocktails, auction items and live entertainment on Wednesday, Nov. 17, from 7–10 p.m. Admission is $40. Enjoy a complimentary mimosa or Bloody Mary while local celebrity chefs whip up delicious recipes for the crowd during the Southern Sassy Brunch on Thursday, Nov. 18 from 10 a.m.–noon. Admission is $25 per person.

Grab your girlfriends for Belles and Bordeaux Ladies Night starting at 5:30 p.m. This exciting and fun-filled night will include wine tasting by The Wine Store and delicious appetizers by local caterers. Buy your tickets early for a chance at fun door prizes!

Beignets with Santa will be on Saturday, Nov. 20, with three seatings at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Don't miss your chance to tell Santa what's on your list! Photographer Jennifer Kilpatrick will be on hand to take each child's picture with Santa in his sleigh. Beignets will be served and local author Tommie Townsley will entertain children with her latest book.

General Marketplace hours are Thursday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.¬–9 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission is $7 per person and children eight and younger get in free. On Thursday, Nov. 18, there will be no stroller fee. For more information on event availability or admission contact the Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc. office at (337) 436-4025 or visit www.jllc.net.

Sulphur’s Christmas Under the Oaks’ Holiday House
December 2–4
Let it snow! Snow will definitely be glistening in Sulphur for the 9th Annual Christmas Under the Oaks celebration with all activities centering around the Henning Cultural Center at 923 Ruth Street Dec. 2–4.

The Holiday House at Christmas Under the Oaks will be preceded by a special “Preview Gala” on Thursday, Dec. 2, from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. which will allow guests to enjoy great food and music and find those perfect gifts before the festival actually begins. The exclusive event is $35 and benefits the Brimstone Historical Society. Tickets must be purchased in advance from the Henning Cultural Center.

The Holiday House will be open Dec. 3–4 from 10 a.m.–8 p.m. and will have over twenty-five different shops with a multitude of fabulous Christmas items. The Brimstone Historical Society will also be unveiling its seventh ornament in the Sulphur Ornament Series. It will be available for purchase at the Henning Cultural Center desk for $15. Ornaments from previous years are available as well, though on a limited basis. They will be on sale for $13 each.

Saturday, Dec. 4, opens with the “Breakfast with Santa” event. Tickets for this event will be available starting the month before. Tickets are $5, and include a pancake breakfast courtesy of Pitt Grill in Sulphur, and a photo with Santa! Other festivities include performances by local school choir and dance teams, music from The Bayou Jazz Kings and a tea room hosted by the Sulphur High School “ProStart” program.

The sky will be a kaleidoscope of color with the Sulphur Kiwanis Balloons on Parade on Saturday at 3 p.m. The parade will start at W.W. Lewis Middle School and come down Cypress Street. Grab a comfortable spot later that evening and enjoy the 9th annual Spectacle of Lights at 6 p.m., where there is always a 100 percent chance of snow in the forecast along with Sulphur’s biggest fireworks display.

For more information, call the Henning Cultural Center at (337) 527-0357, the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau at (337) 436-9588, or check out www.holidayhousesulphur.com.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Black and white photos tell part of the story, and the people tell the rest. It's not every day that a town turns 100. Everyone is invited to the Vinton Heritage Festival to celebrate the roots of a town that has turned out quite a bit of talent over the years such as Marcia Ball, legendary pianist and songwriter as well as Bobby Kimball from the hit band Toto! The actual festival will be October 9, 2010 from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. at Downtown Vinton's City Park.

Headlining this year’s festival will be Marcia Ball, one of the many “Vintonites” whose musical roots are native to the town of Vinton. Other Vinton native performers include Ivy Dugas, Ed Jardell, Raymond T & French Bred. A special vendor booth will be on hand selling Vinton inspired items such as ornaments and Afghans.

Additional crafts, door prizes and food vendors will be in abundance. No festival would be complete without exciting activities, rides and games for spry youngsters and of course, Gumbeaux Gator. The festivities will be held from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. at the corners of Center and Horridge Streets.

Lawn chairs are welcomed; however, coolers and alcohol are not permitted. For festival information, contact Vinton City Hall at (337) 589-7453 or webmaster@cityofvinton.com.
Friday, August 6, 2010
August is a great time to squeeze in some last hoorah entertainment before the summer comes to an official close. There is no shortage of entertainment this August at the casino complexes in the Lake Charles area. It’s the perfect time to catch headliners, relax in a pool, enjoy dining options, hit a round of golf or soak in some spa treatments!

Here’s a glimpse of the line-up:

Delta Downs Racetrack, Casino & Hotel

Zydecajun with Wayne Toups (Aug. 28, 8 p.m.)
Dance the night away to Wayne's distinctive fusion. He draws on French-language traditional material of his Cajun ancestors, but adds the unmistakable R&B textures of Zydeco music. Add to that his undeniable charisma as a rocker and you begin to understand why he's been dubbed "The Cajun Springsteen" or "Le Boss."

Grand Funk Railroad (Sept. 4, 8 p.m.)
Enjoy a Rockin' Night with The American Band, Grand Funk Railroad as they perform their greatest hits, including "We're an American Band" and "Locomotion."

www.deltadowns.com for more info.

Isle of Capri Casino Hotel
38 Special, (Aug. 14, 7 p.m.)
38 Special is an American rock band that was formed by neighborhood friends Don Barnes and Donnie Van Zant in 1975 in Jacksonville, Florida. The band's first two albums had a strong southern rock vibe. By the early 1980s, 38 Special shifted to a more accessible arena rock style without abandoning its southern rock roots. This shift helped to usher in a string of successful albums and singles. The band has an exciting stage presence, sure to get everyone on their feet.
www.isleofcapricasinos.com for more info.

L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort
Grammy Award Winner Travis Tritt, (Aug. 14, 8:30 p.m.)
Country music star Travis Tritt will take to the stage at L’Auberge and dazzle audiences. Starting with the debut single release of "Country Club" in 1989, Travis Tritt has charted more than thirty singles on the U.S. Billboard charts, including five Number Ones. His first and third albums—1989's Country Club and T-R-O-U-B-L-E—have each achieved platinum certification by the RIAA, while his albums It's All About to Change (1991), Greatest Hits: From the Beginning (1995) have each achieved gold status. His most recent album, The Storm, was released in 2007 on Category 5 Records.

Grammy Award Winner Michael Bolton (Aug. 28, 8:30 p.m.)
If you made a list of performers who have sold more than 53 million records, won multiple Grammys for Best Male Vocalist and countless other honors, earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and sold out arenas worldwide, Michael Bolton would be on that list! A world class performance is in store for anyone in the Lake Charles area.
www.ldlcasino.com for more info.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
iiieeeee! Well, Sauce Piquant, do we have Festivals for you to Experience!


Usually, the older we get, the more we realize that everything has a delicate balance. Authentic culture is no exception. It’s something that has to be preserved and appreciated to survive over time. Cajun culture is the epitome fun - mixed in with hard work of living off the land. So, work hard/play hard! Most older Cajuns have lots of laugh lines, twinkling eyes and can’t wait to take a visitor into the fold to treat them like family.

Through it all, everything ties back to the land, Louisiana’s natural resources, and of course, food and music. Louisianans are proud of their French Canadian heritage and have built traditions, recipes, songs and a way of life over hundreds of years that revolve around family, food friends and doing what it takes to make guests smile and dance the night away. You can experience it for yourself at the Cajun French Music & Food Festival or the Marshland Festival this July in Lake Charles, LA. And, you’re sure to hear the Cajun expression of having a good time: “iiieeeeeee!” (Yeah, it just comes out!)

Mark your calendars for the Cajun French Music & Food Festival, July 17-18! The spice of Cajun food will linger in the air around Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles as the sounds of accordions, guitars and intriguing Cajun French lyrics entice your feet to shuffle into a Cajun two-step. Get your fill of gumbo, jambalaya, étouffée and other Cajun specialties that have been spiced to perfection over the years. Dare you to try some cracklin’s? Check www.cfmalakecharles.org for the schedule.

Or, head out to the music showcase known as the Marshland Festival, July 30–31. In addition to hot bands, there will be arts and crafts, a business expo, activities for the kids and more, oh yeah, and food! Southwest Louisiana is known for flavorful fare and hot music, and this festival will give you a taste of both. Check www.marshlandfestival.com for the schedule.

Come by and have a cup of delicious Louisiana coffee with us! To plan, check out the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.visitlakecharles.org or call 800-456-7952.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Whenever you've had enough - whatever you do - don't just sit there and take it! The therapeutic thing to do is hop in your car, speed dial your buddies and let them know you are on your way to take them to Lake Charles. Oh, and make sure you throw in - "no excuses!"

What's great about Lake Charles is it's a budget friendly destination. In fact, Lake Charles was featured on MSNBC as a great place to visit for the value. In addition to casino resorts, fine dining and entertainment, you can also have some unique hands-on experiences such as Painting with a Twist where you can bring in a bottle of wine, pay a small fee, and voila, you have an art trainer, all the supplies, and you get to walk out the door with your very own original piece of art! Other artistic experiences are also available with the Art Sanctuary, or theatrical and performing arts found in the thriving arts & culture of Southwest Louisiana.

May 14 - June 4, you can start off the weekend right with great entertainment by local and regional bands every Friday from 6-9 p.m. It's the Downtown at Sundown Concert Series, complete with food, beverages and art booths where shoppers can pick up unique gift ideas. Or, now through August 12, you can experience the popular Party by the Pool series every Thursday night at L'Auberge du Lac Casino Resort. Or, try your luck at Delta Downs Racetrack, Casino & Hotel or the Isle of Capri.

Fun times await you and the gang in Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana. For itinerary planning and checking out the scene, visit www.visitlakecharles.org.
Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sometimes, it’s easy to feel pressure. Not necessarily pressure caused by stress, but just the pressure that people, cars, the general noise of the city can cause. Bringing about that enclosed feeling, like being boxed in your house, in your neighborhood, in the city type of feeling. When I get that way, it's time to take a breather in a calmer place in the great outdoors. Everyone has “things” that we have to take care of, and every now and then, it’s good to let those “things” wait a sec. They can wait, right?

On a sunny day, it’s good to just grab a few snacks, find a wide brimmed hat, dig out the old sun block and sport a huge pair of sunglasses in hopes of discovering something beautiful and natural along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. Spring and summer are stunning in Louisiana’s Outback. Butterflies, flora and fauna are at their peak, and alligators love sunning themselves along the banks.

So, once you get your car gassed up and supplies/snacks in the ice chest, you can hit the road. Take Exit 20 off Interstate 10 and follow Hwy. 27 south toward the Gulf of Mexico. If you want to do a little crabbing, now is your big chance! It’s loads of fun, and kids can really get into it too. What blue crabs lack in good looks and temperament, they make up for in taste. Nothing can compare to fresh blue crab! They’re easy to catch, and the whole family can join in the fun. May to September is prime *crabbing time.

Stop at any one of the bridges crossing the canals or make a beeline to one of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge locations: Northline Recreation Area, Hog Island Gully Recreation Area, Blue Crab Recreation Area (formerly 1A/1B), or the West Cove Recreation Area. Bring your own or stop at any of the local stores to purchase some thick string and good crab bait — turkey or chicken necks, cut fish, or meat chunks are the best — a dip net and a pail or ice chest. Tie your bait to the end of the string, toss it in the water and wait for a slight pull. Slowly pull the line in and have your net at the ready to scoop up your crab before he gets wise and lets go!

Hitting the trail, you can see several wildlife refuges and attractions, including the Wetland Walkway at the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge or the newly refurbished Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. Along the Wetland Walkway, you can actually walk out onto a raised platform walking trail that takes you right into the marsh where you can see alligators and other wildlife. Cameron Prairie has interactive exhibits including two shows where animated characters give a brief and interesting history of the Cajun/Creole people and the importance of preserving the wetlands. The Pintail Wildlife Drive is perfect for taking in the view of nature’s beauty right from your car window!

The Creole Nature Trail’s 26 miles of natural beaches are easily accessible offering a wide range of water activities. You can swim, tube, surf fish, observe shore birds, sunbathe and go shelling. They are particularly excellent for shelling. Some of the most complete and perfect shells can be found along Gulf beaches in Louisiana’s Outback, and parts of the beaches are even made of tiny wee shells. Located west of the Mississippi Delta, they are constantly replenished by the "muddy river's" southeast tidal flow which carries rich deposits of driftwood and a wide variety of shells including welks, cockles, angelwings, cateyes, olives, wentletraps, coquinas and periwinkles.

For more information on the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, visit http://www.creolenaturetrail.org/. For accommodations, other attractions and restaurants near the Creole Nature Trail, visit http://www.visitlakecharles.org/.

*Crabbing:
Individual crabbing for recreational purposes are not required to possess a basic recreational fishing license. However, persons using crab nets or crab lines on wildlife management areas or refuges must possess a basic and saltwater recreational fishing license or a Wild Louisiana Stamp. Please visit the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries website.
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