Rougarou Fest Unleashed Howls of Fun, Hot Air Balloons, and Trick-or-Treating

Houma, Louisiana recently witnessed a howling good time as the 12th annual Rougarou Fest took center stage, offering a captivating blend of tricks, treats, and high-flying adventure. The festival spanned an entire weekend, captivating attendees from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. This enchanting event unfolded in the vicinity of the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, The Courtyard Marriot, and the Terrebonne Parish Library Main Branch. According to this article from Houma Today, Rougarou Fest is a unique celebration that has become a hallmark of the Houma community and a key fundraiser for the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center.

The notion of a howl-off, a contest where participants unleash their most spine-tingling howls, was sparked by the festival’s poster art, according to Jonathan Foret, the festival’s founder. He revealed, “The Rougarou howling is sort of the inspiration of, ‘Let’s do a howling contest.’ I can’t believe it took me 12 years to come to that one.” The howl-off took place on Friday evening at 8 p.m., with participants vying for the coveted first, second, and third-place titles in both the adult and children’s categories, each receiving a prestigious medal.

Adding to the festive ambiance, trick-or-treating was scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, offering kids a chance to don their spookiest costumes and collect delectable goodies. But that’s not all. The event also promised an exhilarating adventure with hot air balloon rides available on both Friday and Saturday, running from 5 to 9 p.m. on both days. The festival’s diverse array of events and their respective timings can be found in detail on the official Rougarou Fest website, offering visitors a comprehensive schedule to plan their visit accordingly.

Rougarou Fest began its journey in 2012, serving as the primary annual fundraiser for the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center in Houma. Named after the legendary bayou werewolf, the festival is an ode to the rich folklore that thrives along the bayous of Southeast Louisiana. Over the years, it has evolved into a grand celebration, featuring a mesmerizing parade, a highly competitive costume contest, Cajun culinary delights, and enlightening discussions on local folklore, all accompanied by fascinating exhibits.

The South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, the beneficiary of the festival’s proceeds, is a non-profit organization dedicated to revolutionizing how we perceive, educate, and learn about the disappearing coastal regions of Louisiana. It stands as a testament to the collective efforts of the community to conserve and protect these precious wetlands.

Rougarou Fest’s outstanding contributions to the local culture and its commitment to environmental awareness have earned it recognition on various platforms. In 2014, USA Today ranked it as one of the Top 10 Costume Parties in the United States. In 2015 and 2019, the Southeast Tourism Society acknowledged it as one of the Top 20 Events among 11 states for the month of October. Further, the festival received the title of Best New Event in the state of Louisiana in 2015, as awarded by the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals. And most recently, in 2020 and 2023, the Louisiana Travel Association bestowed upon it the esteemed honor of being the Festival of the Year.

In summary, Rougarou Fest is an enchanting celebration that brings the vibrant folklore of Louisiana’s bayous to life. With thrilling howl-offs, hot air balloon rides, and delightful trick-or-treating, this event is a true testament to the region’s cultural richness and its dedication to preserving the invaluable wetlands. It’s no wonder that Rougarou Fest has garnered accolades and has become a beloved tradition in the hearts of the Houma community.

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Interstate 14: A Ray of Hope for Louisiana’s Small Towns

A recent development is generating significant interest in Louisiana, particularly in its small towns facing economic challenges. As per this informative article from The Advocate, this development is the proposed construction of a new interstate highway, known as Interstate 14, which could have far-reaching implications for the state, its economy, and its struggling communities.

Interstate 14, also referred to as the “Forts and Ports Highway” by its proponents, has gained momentum largely driven by Texas officials. The plan is to establish a new east-west interstate highway that traverses the Gulf South, including central Louisiana. It won a crucial Congressional approval in 2021 as part of a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The designated corridor for Interstate 14 stretches from Midland, Texas, to Augusta, Georgia, effectively bridging the gap between the heavily traveled east-west arteries of I-10 in the south and I-20 in the north. The route is strategically significant as it provides better connections between various military installations, including the Fort Cavazos Army base, Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas, Fort Johnson Army Base in Louisiana, and Forts Moore and Eisenhower in Georgia. In addition, it could enhance access to several key Gulf Coast ports, furthering its appeal.

However, it’s essential to clarify that while the Congressional approval was a significant milestone, no funding was allocated for the project. This means that the responsibility of identifying the precise route and securing funding falls on state governments and local communities. For Louisiana, a state that already grapples with financial constraints, this presents a formidable challenge. Although the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has included I-14 in the state’s transportation plan, there is currently no dedicated funding for the estimated $7 billion project.

The proponents of Interstate 14 emphasize the urgent need for such an infrastructure project. As the years pass, the capacity of existing east-west interstates, such as I-10 and I-20, will become increasingly insufficient to accommodate a growing population and its transportation needs. Thus, Interstate 14 is seen as a crucial addition to the national transportation system, capable of safely moving both people and freight.

While Texas has already made progress with a 25-mile stretch of I-14 operational near Killeen in central Texas, Louisiana has an opportunity to catch up. A critical step in this process is the replacement of the Burr Ferry bridge,which will begin next year. The new bridge, built to interstate-highway standards, will eventually accommodate two lanes of I-14, representing a significant milestone in the project’s development.

The proposed route for I-14 in Louisiana would follow Louisiana 8 from Burr Ferry to Leesville, likely tracing along Louisiana 28 to Alexandria, a prospect that has garnered considerable enthusiasm. Deborah Randolph, President of the Central Louisiana Regional Chamber of Commerce, is among the project’s ardent supporters. She believes that Interstate 14 could invigorate the region’s clean energy sector and diversify the local economy by attracting manufacturers and other job-creating entities. For Central Louisiana, this project could be a genuine “game changer.” Despite its broad support, it’s important to note that Interstate 14 remains a project of the future, likely taking a decade or more to become a reality. A realistic expectation is a construction timeline of approximately 20 years.

In conclusion, the proposed construction of Interstate 14 offers a glimmer of hope for Louisiana’s small townsgrappling with economic challenges. While its full impact remains to be seen, the potential benefits, including economic growth, improved transportation infrastructure, and revitalization of struggling communities, make it a promising prospect. Small towns like Jonesville look forward to the promise of Interstate 14, hoping that it will bring renewed vitality and opportunities to their communities.

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Immerse Yourself in Louisiana’s Story: A Day at the State Museum

Nestled in the heart of the captivating state of Louisiana lies a treasure trove of history, culture, and art waiting to be explored—the Louisiana State Museum. Situated within the enchanting city of New Orleans, this museum stands as a testament to the vibrant heritage of the Bayou State, offering an immersive experience that beckons visitors to delve into its captivating exhibits. In this blog post, which is inspired by this webpage, you are invited to embark on a journey through the Louisiana State Museum, showcasing why it’s a must-visit destination for all.

Immersive Exhibits

One of the most compelling reasons to visit the Louisiana State Museum is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Louisiana’s history. The museum boasts a diverse collection of exhibits that span centuries, each telling a unique story of the state’s past. From the early Native American tribes that called Louisiana home to the colonial era, the Civil War, and the Jazz Age, the museum offers an extensive timeline of the state’s evolution. Through carefully curated artifacts, documents, and interactive displays, visitors can gain a profound understanding of Louisiana’s complex and fascinating history.

A Cultural Odyssey

For those with a passion for culture, the Louisiana State Museum is a true haven. It celebrates the state’s distinctive cultural heritage, which is deeply rooted in the blend of French, Spanish, African, and Creole influences. Whether you’re intrigued by Mardi Gras traditions, Cajun and Creole cuisine, or the vibrant music scene, you’ll find it all beautifully showcased here.

The Cabildo: A Historic Gem

One of the crown jewels of the Louisiana State Museum is the Cabildo, a historic building that played a pivotal role in the state’s history. This architectural marvel was the site of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and later served as the seat of the New Orleans city government. A visit to the Cabildo allows you to step back in time and witness firsthand the events that shaped Louisiana and the nation.

A Glimpse into the Voodoo Culture

Delve into the mystique of Louisiana’s Voodoo culture at the museum’s exhibit dedicated to this unique spiritual tradition. Learn about the rituals, practices, and the influential priestess Marie Laveau, who is an enduring figure in New Orleans folklore. This exhibit provides a fascinating insight into the spiritual fabric of the state.

Awe-Inspiring Art and Sculpture

Art enthusiasts will find the Louisiana State Museum’s art collection to be a true revelation. From classic Southern art to contemporary masterpieces, the museum houses a wide array of works that celebrate the talent and creativity of Louisiana artists. You can explore paintings, sculptures, and crafts that capture the essence of the state’s beauty and diversity.

Interactive Learning for All Ages

The Louisiana State Museum is not just a place of passive observation; it’s an interactive learning experience suitable for visitors of all ages. Young explorers can engage with hands-on activities, while adults can delve into in-depth narratives and historical accounts. This ensures that every visitor can tailor their experience to their interests and preferences.

A Culinary Adventure

Louisiana is renowned for its delectable cuisine, and the museum takes you on a culinary adventure through its dedicated exhibits. Learn about the history of Creole and Cajun cooking, explore the flavors and aromas of the bayou, and gain a deeper appreciation for the gastronomic delights that define Louisiana’s culinary landscape.

In conclusion, the Louisiana State Museum offers a multifaceted experience that encapsulates the essence of the Bayou State. It’s a place where history comes alive, where culture is celebrated, and where art and artifacts weave together a compelling narrative. Whether you’re a history buff, a culture enthusiast, an art lover, or simply someone curious about the diverse heritage of Louisiana, this museum has something to offer everyone.

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UL Lafayette’s Recently Released Their Newest Strategic Plan

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has embarked on a transformative journey with the launch of its 2023-2028 Strategic Plan – aptly named “Vision. Louisiana.” This comprehensive plan, unveiled by Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette’s esteemed president, serves as a guiding light, directing the institution’s path, aligning its efforts, and instilling a commitment to excellence in all endeavors, according to this news release.

In his announcement to the campus community, President Savoie emphasized the plan’s significance, stating that it builds upon the university’s existing strengths in teaching, learning, research, and service. It harnesses the momentum of several fruitful years and identifies opportunities for further accomplishments. Notably, the plan is a testament to collaboration, incorporating the valuable input of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members who actively participated in its creation. Like a well-constructed roadmap, it urges the entire university communitytoward a promising destination.

“Vision. Louisiana.” is not merely a collection of aspirations; it represents a tangible commitment to five strategic priorities that will steer the university’s course in the years to come. These priorities include a focus on Academic Excellence, ensuring an Exceptional Student Experience, practicing Intentional Stewardship, conducting impactful Public Impact Research, and engaging in Transformational Community Engagement.

These priorities are not isolated but intricately woven into the university’s core values. Collaboration, collegiality, honesty, integrity, respect, and transparency are the guiding principles that will underpin every action taken under the plan. Furthermore, the plan upholds enduring commitments to access, opportunity, success, innovation, organizational culture, service, and sustainability, ensuring that UL Lafayette continues to be an institution that fosters growth, inclusion, and progress.

“Vision. Louisiana.” is the result of a meticulous, multi-year process that sought the input of a vast array of stakeholders. With over 5,500 unique responses received and analyzed, it stands as a testament to the collective aspirations and dreams for the university’s future. Now that the plan is in motion, every major academic and administrative unit within the university will develop and implement their own strategic plans, aligning with the overarching vision. President Savoie emphasizes that this plan is not static but a living document, with its effects rippling throughout the campus and reaching far into the wider community.

Notably, UL Lafayette’s unveiling of this new Strategic Plan coincides with the celebration of its 125th anniversary, marking a monumental moment in the university’s history. President Savoie expressed his strong belief that the institution’s most remarkable days are still ahead. This Strategic Plan is more than a roadmap; it’s a declaration of commitment to addressing the evolving needs of the local community, the state, the nation, and the world.

As UL Lafayette embarks on this exciting journey outlined in the Strategic Plan, it remains unapologetically bold in its vision and steadfast in its commitment to the flourishing of its students and the broader community. The past 25 years have witnessed remarkable growth, and “Vision. Louisiana.” ensures that this momentum not only continues but accelerates, propelling the university to new heights of achievement and influence.

In conclusion, UL Lafayette’s “Vision. Louisiana.” Strategic Plan is not just a mere document; it’s a visionary blueprint that will shape the university’s trajectory for years to come. Rooted in the institution’s core values and fueled by the collective aspirations of its diverse stakeholders, this plan embodies a commitment to excellence in education, research, and community engagement. In the coming years, as UL Lafayette executes the strategies outlined in “Vision. Louisiana.,” it will be a testament to the university’s unwavering commitment to its students, its community, and its enduring pursuit of excellence. It is a roadmap, a compass, and a pledge to ensure that UL Lafayette’s brightest days lie ahead, illuminating the path to a brighter future for all it serves.

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Protecting Louisiana with the Old River Control Complex

Nestled north of New Roads and Morganza stands an engineering marvel known as the Old River Control Complex.  This formidable structure, with a history spanning nearly six decades, comprises an intricate network of dams, channels, locks, and guide levees. Its primary mission: to maintain the Mississippi River on its current course and prevent it from diverting down the Atchafalaya River, a steeper and more direct route, according to this article from The Advocate.. The importance of this complex cannot be overstated, as it safeguards not only the local region but also the entire nation’s interests.

As the specter of climate change looms larger, the Old River Control Complex faces unprecedented challenges. To ensure its continued effectiveness, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has decided to conduct a comprehensive inspection and, if necessary, undertake critical repairs. The focus of these repairs will be the Low Sill Control Structure, a vital component of the complex that suffered severe damage during the historic flooding of 1973.

McMillen Inc., a construction firm based in Boise, Idaho, has been awarded a substantial $34.2 million contract for the construction of a steel dam. This dam will serve the crucial purpose of sealing off the Low Sill Control Structure, allowing it to be dewatered for the first time since 1987 in preparation for the planned repairs scheduled for the upcoming year.

Colonel Cullen Jones, the commander of the Corps’ New Orleans District, emphasizes the significance of this undertaking. He remarks, “By keeping the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers on their current courses, the Old River Control Complex infrastructure is critical to both the region and the nation. This effort to inspect and repair the Low Sill structure will help ensure the integrity and successful operation of the complex for years to come.”

Without the Old River Control Complex, the Mississippi River would likely have succumbed to the relentless forces of nature and redirected itself down the Atchafalaya River. Such a scenario would have left Baton Rouge and New Orleans bereft of sufficient river water for commerce and, further south of Baton Rouge, deprived 1.2 million people of the freshwater they depend on. Recent weather patterns have intensified the need for these repairs. A scorching summer and an extended period of drought have caused the water levels in the Mississippi to plummet. This dry spell follows more than a decade of recurring and prolonged high-water episodes along the lower river.

To safeguard New Orleans, the Bonnet Carré Spillway has been opened upstream on 15 occasions, with six of those instances occurring since 2011 and four between 2018 and 2020, including two openings in 2019. Further upstream, near Morganza, the river reached an all-time record height in 2011, necessitating the activation of the Morganza Floodway for only the second time in its history. While this measure protects Baton Rouge and New Orleans, it inundated 25,000 acres of farmland as it flows toward the Atchafalaya River, eventually passing Morgan City.

The Old River Control Complex, strategically located at the confluence of the Mississippi, Red, and Atchafalaya rivers, has been performing its critical function since the 1950s. Comprising three major features—the Low Sill, Overbank, and Auxiliary structures—the complex effectively maintains a 70/30 downstream split between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, derived from the combined upstream waters of the Mississippi and the Red River.

In conclusion, the Old River Control Complex stands as a testament to human engineering prowess, tirelessly safeguarding the Mississippi River’s course. As it undergoes much-needed repairs and enhancements, the nation can rest assured that this critical infrastructure will continue to serve as a bulwark against the unpredictable forces of nature.

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Nurturing the Growth of Nursery Crops in Louisiana: A Tale of Passion, Diversification, and Local Support

In the heart of Baton Rouge, Mark Mese, a retired attorney turned dedicated nursery owner, tends to his lush greenhouses, nurturing a stunning variety of plants that thrive under his careful watch, according to this article from Within the sprawling 3,000 square feet of greenery, Mese dedicates himself to the cultivation of bromeliads, rare ferns, begonias, succulents, and a treasure trove of botanical wonders. His story is a testament to the thriving nursery crops industry in Louisiana, where a vibrant community of growers and nursery owners passionately tends to their plants, embraces diversification, and lends a helping hand to fellow enthusiasts.

Mese, like many others, finds immense joy in the world of plants, a passion he’s been able to explore more extensively thanks to the internet. He shares, “one of the things I enjoy the most is that there are so many different kinds of plants you can work with. The internet has opened up so many avenues because you see plants you want and you can do trades with other nursery owners.” His connections stretch far and wide, including a plant enthusiast in Portland who shares his desire for rare Southeastern plants and grows elusive mosses. This collaboration allows both of them to enrich their crop varieties, introducing unique botanical specimens to their respective regions.

Mark Mese is just one of the nearly 600 certified nursery crop operators in Louisiana. These nurseries are mandated to obtain licenses from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), an agency that collaborates closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address critical issues such as disease control and the management of invasive species. Mike Strain, the Commissioner of LDAF, proudly states that Louisiana’s nursery crop industry generates over $200 million annually, positioning the state at the 16th spot nationally for nursery crop production.

In the fertile landscape of Louisiana, nursery operations come in all shapes and sizes. Some nurture only a few dozen plants, while others oversee vast operations with thousands flourishing at any given moment. Most nursery owners specialize in a handful of crops, although the range of plants suited to Louisiana’s climate is astonishing. Azaleas, camellias, magnolia trees, grasses, Hibiscus, citruses, fig trees, and a kaleidoscope of other species grace the nurseries across the state.

Apart from trading and selling plants amongst themselves, nursery owners like Mese occasionally cater to local gardening societies and extend a helping hand to budding nursery operators by providing small cuttings or plants. While their operations may not be open to the general public, they actively participate in plant societies, creating connections and fostering a sense of community among plant enthusiasts.

For those who aspire to embark on a journey in nursery crop cultivation, Mark Mese offers some sage advice. He suggests starting small, focusing on one or two types of plants initially, and gradually expanding as one gains experience. His emphasis is on the intrinsic satisfaction that comes from nurturing plants, rather than solely seeking financial rewards. One exciting opportunity for nursery crops in Louisiana is participation in the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. This initiative funds various projects related to promotion, research development, advertising, education, and more, offering a valuable resource to nurture the growth of this unique sector.

In conclusion, the world of nursery crops in Louisiana is a flourishing tapestry of diverse plants, passionate growers, and an unwavering commitment to nurturing the local ecosystem. As each nursery owner tends to their green haven, they not only cultivate beautiful plants but also sow the seeds of economic prosperity and community bonds. In therich soils of Louisiana, the nursery crop industry continues to thrive, embodying the spirit of growth, diversity, and support.

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