Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Quail Hunts and Quality of Life

Quail Hunts and Quality of Life as St. Francisville Adapts to Change
By Anne Butler
Mississippi ZevThe March 12, 1964, issue of the True Democrat, back in the days when St. Francisville had a truly local newspaper, contained a column by that wonderful writer and social commentator Ben Garris that was all about a funeral. A funeral for a dog, in fact, and the article was highly entertaining, given that the mourners, respectable grown men all, were known to take a drink and have a good time. The wake was particularly high spirited, with many a Big Orange quaffed to assuage their grief.
The deceased was not just any dog. He was the last of the line of the famous Mississippi Zev, all-time great English setter, winner of the National Field Trials, and as a good hunting companion and shooting dog he certainly deserved a proper send-off.
But the column wasn’t just about a dog’s funeral. It was about change. It was about not only the end of the line for the Mississippi Zev family, but also about the end of an era in the Felicianas.

Historic courthouse“Once this was known as the best quail hunting area in the state, but this is gone now,” the columnist opined. “Now potatoes and cattle are king and queen, and quail don’t exist on improved pasture and bare potato middles. Gone is the share-cropper with his garden patch farming. Gone are the little bushy headlands that gave shelter to the quail. Gone are the corn and pea patches that fed and fattened the greatest game bird in the world. Gone are the row-crop rows left heavy with weed cover after fall harvest, where the quail could fill his little gizzard with prime seed on a cold winter evening. And of course, gone are the quail: gone to the pine hills, the pin oak flats and the honeysuckle draws where they have adapted to these changes in drastically reduced numbers.”

Ch-ch-ch-changes. Now sweet potatoes and cattle have mostly been fazed out as well, replaced in area economics by tourism, paper mills, nuclear facilities, state institutions, and Feliciana residents must be as adaptable to changes as the quail. Just as the paper mill and other industries ushered in a new diversity and progressiveness to this historic area, so St. Francisville enters the 21st century with great resilience and the promise that preservation can go hand-in-hand with progress.

WF HospitalThe area has welcomed such facilities and services as a brand new hospital with greatly expanded capabilities, wonderful new library offering much more than books in this digital age, new restaurants dishing up diverse global cuisine, shops and businesses filling unique niches with one-of-a-kind wares, new (and newly refurbished) overnight accommodations and tours, fabulous new sports park with ballfields and courts and arenas and lots of programs for all ages. St. Francisville has also become a mecca for creative souls---musicians, writers, designers, artists, woodworkers, crafters, quilters, chefs---who have inspired a number of fun festivals celebrating the arts, music, books, and yes, even the history for which this area is universally recognized and deservedly so.

The recreational opportunities in the Tunica Hills provide a constant draw for residents and visitors alike, the hilly terrain ideal for bicycle racing as well as birding, hunting, hiking, nature photography. And the steamboats cruising the Mississippi River provide hop on-hop off bus trips for appreciative passengers throughout St. Francisville’s downtown area, listed in its entirety as a National Register Historic District in recognition of the importance of its preserved structures, which are obliged to follow certain carefully detailed directives. Even homeless or abused animals have been blessed with one of the best-run rescue shelters in the state with an outstanding record of adoptions and lost-pet returns to owners.

WF LibraryOf course there are continual infrastructure needs and budgetary shortages among the constants that must be contended with, but all in all, St. Francisville has done a remarkable job in maintaining its historic sense of place while adapting resiliently to requisite change, as more and more new residents arrive seeking the peace and tranquility of country living without sacrificing the availability of necessary services and facilities.
The quail may be gone, but residents and visitors wholeheartedly endorse the town logo that boasts “We love it here.” Even when change is inevitable. Even when sometimes it’s an improvement.

Located on US Highway 61 on the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, LA, and Natchez, MS, the St. Francisville area is a year-round tourist destination. A number of splendidly restored plantation homes are open for tours: The Cottage Plantation (weekends), Myrtles Plantation, Greenwood Plantation, plus Catalpa Plantation by reservation; Afton Villa Gardens is open in season and is spectacular. Particularly important to tourism in the area are its two significant state historic sites, Rosedown Plantation (a National Historic Landmark) and Oakley Plantation in the Audubon state site, which offer periodic living-history demonstrations to allow visitors to experience 19th-century plantation life and customs.

Historic museumThe nearby Tunica Hills region offers unmatched recreational activities in its unspoiled wilderness areas—hiking, biking and especially bicycle racing due to the challenging terrain, birding, photography, hunting. There are unique art galleries plus specialty and antiques shops, many in restored historic structures, and some nice restaurants throughout the St. Francisville area serving everything from ethnic cuisine to seafood and classic Louisiana favorites. For overnight stays, the area offers some of the state’s most popular Bed & Breakfasts, including historic plantations, lakeside clubhouses and beautiful townhouses right in the middle of St. Francisville’s extensive National Register-listed historic district, and there are also modern motel accommodations for large bus groups.

For visitor information, call West Feliciana Tourist Commission and West Feliciana Historical Society at 225-6330 or 225-635-4224, or St. Francisville Main Street at 225-635-3873; online www.stfrancisvillefestivals.com, www.stfrancisville.net or www.stfrancisville.us (the events calendar gives dates and information on special activities).

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Music at the Mag
Friday-March 30th – The Delta Drifters
Saturday-March 31st – Jake Gunter
Imahara’s Botanical Garden
Open on Saturdays from 10am-3pm and Sundays from 1pm -3pm beginning February 17th until April 29th, the garden will close to the public thereafter for more information please call 225-635-6001.
On Saturday March 31st, check out Home by Spring movie on the Hallmark Channel, this was our latest movie shoot in St. Francisville. 
COMMUNITY EGGSTRAVAGANZA -  Saturday March 31, 2018 9am-12pm
Come one, come all! West Feliciana High School Interact Club is hosting a community Easter Eggstravaganza on March 31, 2018 at Parker Park. There will be games for kids of all ages including an Easter egg hunt for kids up to 10 years old. More details and information to follow on community social media sites.

30th Annual Hemingbough’s Easter Sunrise Service – Sunday-April 1
10101 Hwy 965 W in St. Francisville.
Interdenominational Service
Free to the public
Held in the Greek Amphitheater overlooking the lake  (Held indoors in case of rain)
Rev. Chris Andrews
Casual Dress

Audubon Under the Oaks – Sunday-April 8
An afternoon of living history at Oakley Plantation with John J Audubon & the Strong Women of Oakley
This new event is from 4p-6pm at Oakley Plantation Audubon State Historic Site 11788 Highway 965
Louisiana State Fiddle Champion James Linden Hogg with perform, hors d’oeuvres & Open Bar. Tickets are $50.00 in advance and $55.00 at the door.
Tickets may be purchased at www.bontempstix.com

Angola Museum’s Milestones of Memories- Sunday-April 8
The Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum Foundation invites you to join us for the 20thAnniversary Museum’s Milestones of Memories Celebration at the Museum from 1-4pm.  The event will feature a panel of Angola’s museum directors.  Past and present board members will also attend.  A new exhibit documenting the museum’s history will be on display in the Receiving Center annex.   Tours of the museum will be available and light refreshments will be served.  All activities will take place in the Receiving Center.  The event is free and open to the public.    
Angola Rodeo and Crafts – April 21 and 22
Tunica Hills Music Fest & Jam – Saturday - April 21

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Happenings for Feb. 2018

Music at the Mag
Friday-February 16th-United We Jam
Saturday-February 17th-Frankie Boots
Friday-February 23rd-The Delta Drifters
Imahara’s Botanical Garden
Open on Saturdays from 10am-3pm and Sundays from 1pm -3pm beginning February 17th until April 29th, the garden will close to the public thereafter for more information please call 225-635-6001.
Create your own experience in living history during The World of Jane Austen at Audubon State Historic Site on Saturday February 17th from 10AM until 4 PM.
The popular English writer Jane Austen lived in a time of much upheaval. It was a time of the Napoleon and war covered every part of the globe. In the United States the capital was burned and New Orleans saved in a famous battle. Austen’s world was a world of gentility set against the backdrop of violence of war which reflected the early 1800’s in Louisiana.
In Oakley House instead of tours there will be hands on demonstrations of period dancing, etiquette, bath salts, use of the fan, clothing, and more. On the grounds volunteers in reproduction uniforms and clothing of the War of 1812 will host activities that include cannon firing drills, black powder musket drills, and camp life talks.
Audubon State Historic Site is the setting for the 200-year-old Oakley House, temporary home and inspiration to John James Audubon in the 1800s. The park includes a museum, picnic area, pavilion and nature trail. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the park is open daily Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Admission for Oakley House Tours and Grounds $10.00 Adults, $8.00 Seniors, $6.00 Student, and for Grounds-Only Admission is $5 per person (ages 4 and over) and free for children (age 3 and under). Audubon SHS is located 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge near St. Francisville on La. 965 in West Feliciana Parish. For more information, call 888.677.2838 toll free or 635.3739 in the St. Francisville area.

Writers & Readers Symposium will be held at Hemingbough on Saturday-February 17th between
8:30am-3:00pm.  Featured Speakers are Catharine Savage Brosman, John R. Kemp, Michael Rubin, Genaro Ky Ly Smith and M.O. Walsh.
Writers Workshop on Sunday-February 18th between 9am-4pm.
For more information please visit www.stfrancisvillefestivals.com
Vendors, Art, Food and Music
Check out their facebook event or stfrancisvillefestivals.com
Annual Bike race through the Parish and finishing downtown at the Courthouse.
This annual event showcases John James Audubon while he was in the Felicianas.
Four private homes open for touring, Gardens, Churches, Cemetery Tours, 1820’s Costumes
For complete event information and tickets please visit www.westfelicianahistory.org or call
225 635 6330.