Clayton and I will be moving to Louisiana’s Other Side — the Shreveport-Bossier City area. Because of the fishing, hunting, hiking trails and other outdoor recreation, it’s commonly called a “sportsman’s paradise,” although I’m a little apprehensive being from Alaska – the ultimate outdoor destination. However, the population in the area is 350,000+ and has average temperatures ranging from the high-90’s in the summer to the low-50’s in the winter months. YES, PLEASE.
What’s big there you ask? Well healthcare, hospitality and gaming – I plan to visit all six riverboat casinos and win big at the Louisiana Downs horse racing track, military/government, and their newest but flourishing film and entertainment industry — as evident by the famous movies filmed there, including The Guardian, Factory Girl, Mr. Brooks, and the forever classic Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
With over 50 festivals and community events a year in the Shreveport-Bossier City area alone, we’ll never be bored. Below are my top picks:
Red River Revel Arts Festival
Held in October
The largest outdoor arts festival in North Louisiana is held on the riverfront of downtown Shreveport. Over the course of eight days, over 100 artists and 20+ food vendors display and sell their creations while live music plays morning and afternoons on three outdoor stages. Art, food and music – just a few of my favorite things.
Battle of Pleasant Hill Re-enactment
Held in April
I’m not going to lie – ever since I saw the movie Sweet Home Alabama, I have been dying to see a Civil War reenactment. While compiling my Louisiana Bucket List, I found zero references to reenactments held in the area… then I stumbled across The Battle of Pleasant Hill. My dreams will come true as the soldiers reenact the largest battle fought west of the Mississippi River.
State Fair of Louisiana
Held in October and November
is nothing are few things I love more than a fall day at the fair. My family has continuously spent one, open-to-close day a year eating and drinking our way through the Alaska State Fair, despite the fact that the food vendors and performers (and their jokes) remain the same.
Held in October
An afternoon of beer tasting overlooking the Red River in downtown Shreveport. Oktoberfest, Louisiana-style — with over 100 beers to sample, food vendors, live music and college football playing on big-screen TVs, I think it’s safe to say we’ve found heaven on earth. There is also a wine tasting version of this in March called CORK. We wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to educate ourselves on 80+ wines from around the world, so I guess we’ll have to attend.
Highland Jazz and Blues Festival
Held in November
Taking music in the park to the next level, the Highland Jazz and Blues Festival has grown from a couple bands and 500+ fans to 10 bands playing on two stages for over 10,000 fans during an afternoon filled with good music, great food and local artisans. Best of all, it’s free.
Holiday in Dixie
Held in April
An annual event celebrating the Louisiana Purchase – which occurred in 1803 for those of us who haven’t taken a history class since high school. Originally named the “Salute to the Southland,” the Holiday in Dixie festival hosts a treasure hunt, parade, carnival rides and BBQ Cook-Off.
Dixie Maze and Pumpkin Patch
Held September / October
The oldest corn maze in Louisiana covers eight acres of land with over four miles of pathways and has a new design each year. Their website says skilled maze goers can complete the course in 30 minutes but “directionally challenged” (AKA me) will take much longer. Think Google Maps will help?
Sunflower Trail and Festival
Held in June
Local farmers grow a variety of crops including cotton, corn, soybeans, and sweet potatoes but their sunflowers attracted the masses. So naturally the town decided to create a festival honoring the sunflowers with local food vendors and artisans selling their crafts. I’m beginning to see a trend – there are festivals for everything. And I like it.
Caddo Lake Draw Bridge Centennial
Celebrated through December 2014
This one is for Clayton, the man loves bridges. This Louisiana landmark was built in 1914 during the booming oil days and was saved from destruction in the 1980s. Closed to vehicle traffic, the bridge has now become a National Landmark and they are celebrating the 100th anniversary until December. Clayton loves bridges and I love any reason to party.
Held Memorial Day weekend
One of Louisiana’s largest and most popular Cajun festivals; this four-day even features music from Cajun, Zydeco, Blues and Jazz artists and food from some of the best Cajun cooks around. I think I’m beginning to understand the local culture – I’ll be a crawfish eating, Blues singing, Louisiana local in no time.
Most images on this page are from the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau Flickr – check it out for more amazing snaps. Seriously.