Louisiana Travels for March 31

Quartet of homes is featured in Pointe Coupee Parish tour

“It’s an educational, entertaining experience. People want an interactive experience. Watching something is nice, but participating is a lot more fun.” Redell miller, Cajun chef

The Pointe Coupee Parish Historical Society is giving the general public a chance to tour four grand old houses.

The houses, all now operated as bed-and-breakfast inns in the parish, will be open for tours 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, April 13.

The Pointe Coupee Bed-and-Breakfast is in the Samson House on Richey Street in New Roads. Owner Sam McVea has been involved in local history and preservation for many years, and is a longtime member of the historical society. The Samson House, built in the 1830s, is a Creole house with an unusual and gracious wide center hall. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Southern plants and flowers fill McVea’s gardens and New Orleans style enclosed patios.

Dreyfus House Bed-and-Breakfast stands on the banks of Bayou Grosse Tete in Livonia, next door to Joe’s Dreyfus Store Restaurant. Manager Camile Persica said, “Guests tell me the Dreyfus House reminds them of their grandma’s home. Guess that’s why kids call me Grammie.” The house was built about 1850, and sits behind a small embankment that is a remnant of the Fordoche-Grosse Tete levee built in 1876 to protect the house from bayou floods.

Mon Reve, French for “my dream,” is a raised Creole cottage built about 1850 for Valerien and Marie St. Cyr Bergeron, parents of 14 children, many of whose descendants still live in Pointe Coupee Parish. Joe and Cathy Hinckley own the house today, and keep a lush Louisiana garden enclosed by a traditional pieux fence in the front yard.

The Pourciau House was built in the 1890s, and is a good example of a late Victorian Creole cottage ornamented in the Eastlake fashion. Owners Jimmy Duckworth and Shelley Ford call their B&B “A Wayfarer’s Retreat.” Their garden is enclosed by hedges of bamboo, holly, and Louisiana palmetto. Gardeners always want a peek inside their small greenhouse and potting shed located at the back of the wide, well-kept lawn.

Visitors will also be able to meet the owners or caretakers at each house.

Maps will be available at each of the four houses, and at the Poydras Center in New Roads and the Pointe Coupee Museum on False River Road near Parlange.

For more information, call the historical society at (225) 638-6575.

New tour business

A new business based in Scott, Acadiana Bayous and Byways will offer tour coordinating and step-on guide services, as well as cultural/educational entertainment, workshops and shows.

Redell Miller and her children, Tommy and Tammy, will offer their services to all areas within 100 miles with the mission to keep visitors longer in the state. Redell Miller has worked in tourism for more than 15 years. She and her children have more than 30 years combined experience with hotels, restaurants, charter buses, technology, step-on tour guiding, catering, entertainment, history, heritage, coordinating, music and dance.

Acadiana Bayous and Byways will hold interactive programs in restaurants and hotels, including Cajun and Creole music, dance and cooking workshops/shows. During the “Musique de Maison” workshop, Redell Miller will tell stories and invite local Cajun musicians to play for her audience, which is then invited to jam with them.

A rural Mardi Gras presentation will bring revelers in full costumes after the public hears “Courir de Mardi Gras” narratives and watches the Dance for a Chicken documentary. Tommy Miller, a dance instructor and step-on guide, leads the dance lessons, while his sister Tammy handles the company’s bookkeeping and website.

Redell Miller is also a Cajun chef and partners with restaurants for cooking demonstrations. She shows participants how to cook jambalaya, gumbo and corn maque choux, while the restaurant serves appetizers or salads. After tasting the dishes, attendees end their meal with bread pudding.

“It’s an educational, entertaining experience,” Redell Miller said. “People want an interactive experience. Watching something is nice, but participating is a lot more fun.” For more information, call (337) 258-5303.

Clean-up at refuges

The next “work/play day” organized by the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 6, at the Bayou Lacombe Center in Lacombe.

This is the seventh year of successfully running the “work/play day” model. Through this program hundreds of groups and individual volunteers have contributed to maintaining the grounds of the historic Bayou Lacombe Center. The “work” will focus on the maintenance of the camellia gardens and the trails around the property that feature an abundance of azaleas, all in full bloom. Volunteers will also remove unwanted growth and clear the gardens of debris.

Once the work is done the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges will provide all registered volunteers a light lunch. The “play” will consist of a one hour canoe outing on scenic Bayou Lacombe for those interested.

Volunteers should meet at the refuge headquarters, 61389 La. 434. In order to provide everyone lunch, volunteers are encouraged to RSVP by Thursday, April 4. Call David Stoughton at (985) 882-2025 or email him at david_stoughton@fws.gov.

Many other volunteer opportunities can be found on the refuges of the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges Complex throughout the year, including helping to staff the Visitor Center in Lacombe and assisting with special events, educational programs and canoe tours on the refuges.

ä ON THE INTERNET:

http://www.friendsoflouisianawildliferefuges.org

Water playground on way

Chicot State Park near Ville Platte will open a new water playground for the summer 2013 season.

The playground, designed by Ackal Architects of Lafayette and built by True Construction of Jennings, includes tumble buckets, water cannons, fountains, aqua domes, a pavilion and bathrooms.

The $695,000 project replaces the existing 40-plus-year-old swimming pool, which had been subject to water leaks that adversely impacted area water pressure. In addition to the pool’s increasing repair needs, new ADA requirements would demand upgrades that would be cost-prohibitive.

The water playground will be the newest feature at Chicot State Park which includes the Louisiana State Arboretum, vacation cabins, campsites, lodges, a group camp and more than 20 miles of nature trails. The park, located six miles north of Ville Platte on La. 3042, is situated on more than 6,000 acres of rolling hills and around a 2,000-acre reservoir. The park is open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. For more information, call (888) 677-2442.

äON THE INTERNET:

http://www.LaStateParks.com

Music on the river

A weekly live music series will be held 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. each Friday for nine weeks on Front Street between Everett and Freret streets in historic downtown Morgan City.

Don Rich, a Pierre Part native, will kick off this year’s “Rhythms on the River” with a performance on April 5. Rich has been playing music for more than 41 years and enjoys bringing authentic Cajun swamp pop to crowds all around Louisiana. For more information, call (985) 384-9291 or (985) 385-1770.

äON THE INTERNET:

http://www.donrichmusic.com

Quintet in Leesville

The Vernon Arts Council presents its last performance of the 2012-13 season, featuring Jeremy Davis and the Equinox Quintet, at 7 p.m. Monday, April 8, at Celebrations, 108 N. 3rd St., in downtown Leesville.

The group focuses on the Great American songbook, including songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, Mel Torme and Tony Bennett. They add a spicy dash of Louisiana soul and include songs from such artists as Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and Roger Miller.

Admission is adults, $15; students, $5; active duty military, free with ID; and under 12, free with adult.

For more information, call the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission at (337) 238-0783.

The Pointe Coupee Parish Office of Tourism, the Iberia Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, the Office of State Parks and the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission provided items for this column. Louisiana Travels is a biweekly column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to travel@theadvocate.com or jbergeron@theadvocate.com or mail to Judy Bergeron, News Features assistant editor, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810.