What an October it has been, we have had a visitor every weekend this month. Our family and friends have spoiled us with love in their willingness to try anything like Cajun daiquiris, fried alligator, and my cooking (kidding, I think I’m pretty good.)
Our first visitor of the month was my sister, Rachael, and she immersed herself in Louisiana culture for a whole ten days. The afternoon prior to her arrival, Clayton and I headed downtown for the Stan “The Record Man” Lewis music festival – an all-day tribute to a local icon in the music industry. Stan Lewis cowrote, produced and distributed more records than anyone in Louisiana and all of the bands playing at the event owed some of their success to him. That, and it was his birthday. Or so I thought.
I waited in line to get a record from a local band signed and as he was finishing up his signature, I leaned over and said, “Happy Birthday by the way!” He is in his mid-80’s and it was loud, so I wasn’t sure if he heard me. He just stared at me blankly for a second, then turned back to the record and wrote “Happy Birthday!”
After Rach arrived, we took her to one of our favorite restaurants: Frank’s Pizza. Located less than a mile from our apartment and home to one of my newest obsessions (ahem, Alonna this one is for you) the Fern Avenue Fizz: basil vodka, fresh lime juice, muddled basil, simple syrup and soda.
The next day we decided to show Rach the real beauty of Louisiana by going paddle boarding on Lake Bistineau. Per usual, Tex used it as an opportunity to jump off my board, swim over to Rach to check on her and swim back, whining until I helped him back on – keeping me from gaining any distance.
The week was spent exploring our favorite spots around town: a Heels and Reels movie night at Robinson Film Center where they played Legally Blonde, dog-friendly social at Great Raft Brewery, and of course – Cajun cuisine at Shane’s Seafood. We sampled fried alligator, a Natchitoches meat pie, shrimp po’boy and seafood gumbo.
To close out the visit, we spent the weekend enjoying the Louisiana Film Prize. The LA Film Prize is a short-film (5-15 minutes) competition that attracts talent from all over the world who are desperate to win the grand prize — $50,000 cash. The only catch: they have to shoot the film in the Shreveport-Bossier City area.
Over 150 films were entered and a panel of judges narrowed it down to 20 finalists. These were divided into two slates of 10 that played continuously over a 2-day period at six different venues. We caught the first slate on Friday night at the historic Capri Theater.
The local community decides the winner but you have to see all 20 films to be eligible for voting so the next morning we caught the early slate at 9:00 am at the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. Even during the early showing, the energy was contagious. The festival takes over downtown Shreveport – most of the venues are within walking distance and in the center of it all is Festival Central. Home to the VIP area, a stage where they host film-maker interviews, sell festival swag, manage the voting and allow each film-maker and their crew to set up a tent and advocate for their film via whatever bribery seems necessary.
The film that won the festival was unanimously our favorite but what I liked best about the weekend was how it engrossed the entire city – every where you went people were talking about the films, what they liked and didn’t like, plot lines, actors, etc. It was definitely my favorite weekend in Shreveport, to-date. Best of all: Rach was in-town to enjoy it (plus it made Shreveport seem a little cooler than everyday life).