October 20, 2010

I Like Home The Best

by Angela Couch

It's rivers flow with a rhythm as they journey south. It's Magnolia blossoms, so striking in their beauty, give one a sense of strength wrapped in sleek satin. The sweet aroma of honeysuckle on the vine along it's country lanes soothe the soul. It's a place where people enjoy life in all of it's colorful hues and blends. A place where unique music, delectable food, or nature's bounty are reason enough to have a festival or throw a party. I'm talking about Louisiana. Even the name is a lovely melody.

Say it again, Louisiana.

We have such a wonderful country, filled with breathtaking vistas, endless fun, excitement and interesting people. After traveling in every state in America, except one, I have decided I like home the best. My goal, through a series of stories, is to give you a word picture of my area of Louisiana: its fun, its history, its attractions, its people.

I will be promoting events, highlighting history, supporting the arts, encouraging participation, and reporting on each event I attend or take a part in. Each month, my Facebook page, lists coming events and historical points of interest, highlighted by the crow as he flies 100 miles across north central Louisiana. Louisiana Trekker has graciously asked me to share with her readers some of the interesting places and people we see in this area.

Coming soon, two events we recently attended, the 55th Annual Louisiana Art and Folk Festival in Columbia, LA and Fall Fest & Antique Show sponsored by LaSalle Antique and Tractor Club based in Jena, LA.

Here are a couple of shots from those two events.

Louisiana, a lovely melody.

Photos and article copyright Angela Couch. All rights reserved. My not be copied or reproduced in any manner.

Can you smell it???? Cotton Candy, Corn Dogs, Sausage, Peppers and Onions...

Must be time for the Louisiana State Fair!!!

Alright, if you have read any of my past blog posts you know how much I love Louisiana. This time of year is one of my favorite times because I get to make memories with my family by visiting the State Fair of Louisiana. That's right, one of the highlights of the year is a trip to the state fair for a fun-filled day of eating, playing, riding, and having fun.

Trips to the fair bring back childhood memories of days gone by. Some things have not changed; the food, the smells, the carnies, and the rides.

This year's State Fair of Louisiana begins October 21 and runs through November 7. For a complete listing of all that the fair has to offer, visit their website State Fair of Louisiana. There are a series of concerts, rodeo, football classic, livestock shows, exhibits, rides and more. To view the special entertainment click here.

One event of interest is the World Championship Blacksmiths on October 22, 23, 24, 2010 at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum; visitors can watch a competition of blacksmiths creating a horseshoe.

An insider's tip: if you are able take off from school or work and get there between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and it is free to park and get into the fair; this will give you extra money to buy food or ride more rides!

Don't forget to visit the livestock barn and exhibit building while you are there. Many people have worked hard on different items to show at the fair from canned goods to arts and crafts.

Ticket Prices
    * $8.00 Gate Admission
    * $28.00 Pay-One-Price *Includes Gate Admission and Ride Armband

FunPass - $75.00
    * Gate admission and armband for each of the 14 days the State Fair is open.
    * Once through the gate, redeem at Lowery Carnival office for FunPass ID.
    * Good for one person only. Non-transferrable.

Special Discount Tickets can be purchased at Brookshire's and Super One Foods.
Parking: $5.00
Hours of Operation : 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Opening Day Special - Dollar Day
Official Opening Day: Thursday, Oct. 21
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.: Free Parking & Admission
3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.: $1 Parking/Admission/Rides*
Even Many Food Items will be sold for $1!

October 15, 2010

Shhhhh Central Louisiana has a Secret

My mission when I travel is to find new and unique places to eat and visit. One of my favorite shows on television is Diner's, Drive Inns, and Dives. I just love seeing these real restaurants with real people who have a passion for what they do. I love smelling the food and taking in the local flavor. What really makes traveling fun and exciting is experiencing different cultures and people. One thing that I've noticed is that when you step off the beaten track and give local restaurants and businesses a chance you can find some GREAT people and places.

I'm going to let you in on a secret in Alexandria...you may already know about it...but in case you don't then you need to know about it...okay...I'm going to whisper it to you now...Atwood's Bakery on MacArthur Drive. There. Now you know. Whew, I feel better because I don't like keeping secrets.

When I find a great place I just want to share it with everyone. I'm sure if you are from Alexandria or Central Louisiana then you already knew about Atwood's Bakery. It has now made it to my list of must visit places on my trips to Alexandria. To be honest I love baked goods so I try to stay away from them and if I lived in Alexandria then I would have to take up extreme exercising because I would want to visit here often.

Our first few trips to Atwood's consisted of doughnuts or pastries and they were delicious! On our last trip we decided to take our little ones with us and actually go inside. The plan was to pick out some goodies and hit the road. When you walk into Atwood's you are immediately greeted with the smells you would expect from a bakery the overwhelming smell of buttercream frosting and assorted confections hit you like a ton of bricks. The variety is overwhelming (at least to those indecisive types as myself; I absolutely hate to go to cafeterias because there are too many choices and I start having a panic attack!). There are pastries, cookies, pies, cupcakes, Gelato, tea, coffee, cakes, candy and oh so much more.

Once everyone decided upon what they wanted to try, we decided to sit and eat our goodies. Below you will see what the little ones picked out...two monster cupcakes please. Only our son would not eat his; he liked it too much. He sat there at the table while everyone else ate their delicious treats and he would not eat it. It was not until we got home and took a picture of it would the boy eat it. Now, I don't know what planet he is from because I too had a cupcake (chocolate with buttercream frosting) and I had no problem gobbling mine right up.
Monster Cupcake from Atwood's Bakery in Alexandria
(The cupcake suffered some damage on the way home.)

I wanted to sample one of everything...that's how good everything looked and smelled. What I noticed while sitting there with my family and enjoying our break from the world was the friendliness of the staff and people who worked there. The atmosphere was relaxed and it felt like a place that you just wanted to stay and hang out for a while. Not many places these days give off that vibe. (I found myself singing the Cheers theme song in my head..."you wanna go where everybody knows your name...)

While we were waiting for our order we were drooling over the gelatos (which are fresh made right there at Atwood's Bakery). They offered us a sample; not just one flavor but I believe that if we had wanted to sample every flavor they would have let us. (oh and it was delicious!!!) They were friendly and nice. I felt special. Yes, in this day and age of fast food and rude workers; I actually felt like they had pride in their product and wanted to share it with me. What a great feeling!

Now, I have a quest. Now, I am going to have to try everything they have and find a favorite. That may take me years as their menu is quite extensive. The list is small right now....one cupcake, check; one eclair, check; one cannoli; check; one cream puff; check... It will be a while before my next trip to Alexandria but until then I'm dreaming about Atwood's Bakery and what to sample next.

I think in my zeal to share my secret I forgot to tell you that Atwood's Bakery also has a deli where they serve soups, sandwiches, salads, and breakfast. (Deli Menu) There is an extensive sandwich list including a build your own sandwich.

So, the next time you are in Alexandria, make it a point to drop by Atwood's Bakery. There's something for everyone. Prepare to be blown away! One other item of interest is that Atwood's Bakery was on TLC's Ultimate Cake Off. Wow! That's really cool. Louisiana has some really cool people!!

In my quest to promote Louisiana and our businesses, I must ask you that if you live in the Cenla area, please give this local business your money. We need to keep our dollars locally and spend them with the hard working and great entrepreneurs who make our state so great. For that next family gathering, Sunday dinner, special occasion, baby shower, birthday, wedding or other celebration, go to Atwood's Bakery and give them a try. I'm already trying to figure out how to move closer...so I can complete my quest!

Visit Atwood's Bakery at 1125 MacArthur Drive, Alexandria, Louisiana. Call 318-445-5134 or toll-free 800-374-8236

Rejoicing in the Roses at the Gardens of the American Rose Center

Rejoicing in the Roses, a celebration of contemporary praise music is set for Sunday, October 17, 2010, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Gardens of the American Rose Center. Three outstanding local praise groups will be performing live in the Gardens at the Windsounds Carillon Tower. Refreshments will be sold.

Performances are as follows:
• 2:00 p.m.: Gospel Quartet, Heaven’s Echoes
• 3:30 p.m.: St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Combined Adult and Children Choirs
• 5:00 p.m.: Silent Singers of Waller Baptist Church

Individual Admission:
• $5.50 per person
• Free: Ages 5-younger and ARS/ARC members

Group Admission:
• $3.50 per person for groups of 10 or more
• $35: Mini-bus
• $75: Bus

Gardens of the American Rose Center
Home of the American Rose Society, the Gardens of the American Rose Center was created in 1974 through the contributions of rose lovers around the world. The 118-acre park contains more than 65 individual gardens with each bed and planting specially designed to demonstrate ways roses can be grown in the average home garden. It is conveniently located just off of I-20, Exit 5, in Shreveport, LA.

By: Maria Scott, Director of Communications