Thursday, January 22

Southwest Louisiana Festivals & Fun

From Mardi Gras revelry through Christmas parades, Southwest Louisiana offers a year of fun. Traditional Mardi Gras festivities in Vinton, Iowa and Jennings include chicken runs and gumbo suppers. The Black Heritage Festival and McNeese Banners Series highlight spring in Calcasieu Parish. Contraband Days, Red, White, Blue and You, Cajun Food and Music Festival and Celtic Nations Festival liven up Lake Charles. The Coushatta Pow Wow in Allen Parish is a ‘don’t miss’ event. In Beauregard Parish, catch the Hickory Creek Civil War battle reenactment, Merryville Heritage Days, Watermelon Festival, and Cherokee Nation’ Pow Wow. Jeff Davis Parish hosts a Mardi Gras Cajun Squeeze Box Shootout and annual Stearman Fly In. And each December, Sulphur welcomes the Christmas season with real snow! Visit the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau website at throughout the year for updates and details.


Allen Parish Mardi Gras. Traditional and contemporary parade and festivities begin the first weekend prior to Ash Wednesday and build to the grand finale on Fat Tuesday.
Feb. 4 – Soileau Mardi Gras Trail Ride - Soileau

April 10 - Kinder Chamber of Commerce 4th Annual Golf Tournament - Kinder
April 19 --Trottingbred Racing, Metro Soileau Downs, Soileau

May 2 - 4 - Spring Festival, Scared Heart Catholic Church, Oakdale
May 3 & 11 - Trottingbred Racing, Metro Soileau Downs, Soileau

June 14 & 28 - Trottingbred Racing, Metro Soileau Downs, Soileau

July 12 & 26 - Trottingbred Racing, Metro Soileau Downs, Soileau

Aug 4 & 23 - Trottingbred Racing, Metro Soileau Downs, Soileau
Aug. 31 – St. Joan of Arc Bazaar, Oberlin

Sept. 6 & 20 -- Trottingbred Racing, Metro Soileau Downs, Soileau
Sept. 13 – Miss Allen Parish Pageant
Sept. 17 - 20 - Allen Parish Fair, Music, rides, and food booths are highlighted with the stock show and rodeo. Family entertainment for parents and children alike. Oberlin
Sept. 27 - Grand Opening of Leatherwood Museum. 202 E. 7th Ave. Oakdale
Sept 26 - 27 -- Old Time Plow Days. Take a trip to the past! The event features Belgian plow horses, mules, food, and stagecoach rides. Bring the family and watch the past in action. Mittie
Sept 26 - 27 -- Allen Parish Airport Fly-In. Experimental airplanes, plane rides for the children, music and good food will be on hand for a real family, fun-filled event. Allen Parish Airport

Oct. 3- 4 -- Coushatta Pow Wow. Porcupine Head Roaches, Eagle Feathers, Native American songs, Women's Traditional and Men's Fancy are all ingredients of the Coushatta Pow-Wow. Come and enjoy the many flavors of the Coushatta culture. Kinder.
Oct. 4 & 18 -- Trottingbred Racing, Metro Soileau Downs, Soileau
Oct. 11- 12 – St. Philip Neri Catholic Church Fall Festival, Kinder
TBA -- King's Farm Fall Festival & Auction, Kinder

TBA -- Christmas In The Park, Reeves
TBA -- 4rd United Pentecostal Christmas Bazaar, Oakdale
Dec 1 - 31 -- King's Farm UPC Festival of Lights, Kinder
Dec 1 -- Lights In The Country, Elizabeth
Dec 6 -- Christmas In The Country Trail Ride & Parade, Elizabeth
Dec. 6 -- Kinder's Christmas In The Park, Kinder
Dec. 13 -- Christmas on Main Street with Sounds of the Season and Fireworks Display, Oakdale
Dec 13 -- Grant Christmas Tree Farm Events, Grant
TBA -- Hayride Under the Lights

For Allen Parish updates throughout the year, go to


Every Month
Pinehill Trade Days- Large indoor/outdoor market. A variety of old, new, collectibles and antique items. Pinehill Trade Days are held the last weekend before the first Monday of every month at the Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds.

TBA -- Battle of Hickory Creek. Civil War Re-enactment of battles and skirmishes between the Union and Confederate forces that opened the door to the 1864 Red River Campaign.
Feb. 28 -- First Black Heritage Festival. Time and location TBA.

March 27 – 28 -- Merryville Living Heritage Festival. This two-day festival is the area's only free community-wide cultural event. The festival features theater, folk life, music, dance and fine art, which demonstrates the unique cultural heritage of Louisiana's "No Man's Land” area

April 3-4 -- DeRidder Lions Club Pro Rodeo. Beauregard Parish Covered Arena Hwy 190 West
April 4 – 5 -- Louisiana Doll Festival. If you love dolls, the place to be on April 4-5 is in DeRidder, home of the Lois Loftin Doll Museum. The collection of over 3,000 dolls, donated to the Beauregard Tourist Commission in 1996, is located in the Beauregard Museum. The festival will include doll appraisers and a doll show, as well as live entertainment and activities for the kids. It will be held at
the Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds in DeRidder.
TBA -- The Four Winds Pow Wow-The Annual Pow-Wow of the Four Winds Tribe, Louisiana Cherokee Confederacy will take place at the Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds.

TBA -- Treasure Fest. A bargain hunters dream! Sponsored by the City of DeRidder and Beauregard Tourist Commission, Treasure Fest is a one-spot yard sale held under the tall pines along the one-mile walking trail in DeRidder's West Park. Trash or treasure? You decide at Treasure Fest.

TBA-- Juneteenth Celebration. This year will mark the 144th anniversary of the end of slavery. Each year, community organizations come together to commemorate the celebration with events throughout the month of June.
June 26 – 28 (tentative) -- Beauregard Parish Watermelon Festival, Home of the Sugartown Watermelon, Beauregard Parish will celebrate the taste of the season with the parish's annual Watermelon Festival at the Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds for watermelon games and events, as well as live music and entertainment. Taste some of the sweetest watermelons in Louisiana!

TBA -- Beauregard Museum Hispanic Day. Downtown DeRidder.

Beauregard Parish Fair-The 80th Beauregard Parish Fair will take place the first week in October at the Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds. One of the oldest agricultural fairs in the state, it includes a carnival, exhibits, food and live bands.
Oct. 17 - Ragley Heritage and Timber Festival. Presentations on pioneers of the area, history of the formation of the town and founding families. Includes arts and crafts, food booths and live music by gospel and bluegrass bands.
TBA -- The Four Winds PowWow. Louisiana Cherokee Confederacy at the Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds. A unique opportunity to experience the culture of Louisiana's American Indians.

TBA -- DeRidder Gem and Mineral Show. The DeRidder Gem and Mineral Show offers some of the best-hidden treasures in Louisiana. Minerals, gemstones, jewelry, Indian artifacts and florescent minerals will be displayed and available for purchase, including the elusive Louisiana opal.
Nov 28 (tentative date) -- Christmas in the Park. Each year West Park is turned into a Winter Wonderland with thousands of Christmas lights, snow village, Santa's Workshop and nativity scene. Visitors can enjoy a train ride, cup of hot chocolate, popcorn, and hotdogs, while waiting to see Santa Claus. Christmas in the Park is sponsored by the Beauregard Women's Organizations.

Dec 9-- Miracle on Washington Christmas Festival. Enjoy a dazzling Christmas Celebration with a downtown Christmas Festival, parades, the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Train, unique shopping and much more.

For Beauregard Parish updates throughout the year, go to .


Jan. 6 - Jan. 31 – Mardi Gras SWLA. From 12th Night to the last parade, highlights and schedules for Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana can be found at
Jan. 30 – 31 -- Western Heritage Days. Kicks off livestock show and rodeo! The trail ride begins south of Iowa at 8 a.m. on the 30th. On the 31st at the Brick House: Cook-off, trail riders, pony rides, Coushatta dancers, country western dance demonstration, petting zoo and much more! Rodeo parade begins at Ryan and Pine Sts. at 3 p.m.

Feb. 1 – 24 - Mardi Gras SWLA. From 12th Night to the last parade, highlights and schedules for Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana can be found at
Feb. 3 –7 - Annual Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo. Burton Coliseum, Lake Charles. Don’t miss "The greatest show on dirt," -- the Annual Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Feb. 14 –15 – SWLA Horse Expo at CalCam Arena. Meet speakers, vendors, clinicians and organizations that will inform, entertain and educate. Dressage by La Bocage Stables, Kids Korral, Horseman’s Challenge, Cowboy Church, and more!
TBA -- Kossa Indian Dancers. Kossa Plaza, 121 E. Napoleon St, Sulphur. A colorful pageant of Native American Dances. They perform in their own theatre, which resembles a pueblo, housing prints and artifacts crafted by Native Americans.

March 6 - 7 -- Black Heritage Festival. Lake Charles Civic Center/Downtown Lake Charles. If you’re hungry for mouthwatering food, terrific music and great family fun, then this is the place for you. Entertainers perform gospel, zydeco, blues, spoken word and more on the Kids and Main Stages. There are approximately 70 vendors displaying and selling a wide variety of goods and services. New for 2009: Car Show, 5K Walk, Parade, and Jazz on the Lake.
March 14, 23-28 – 2009 SWLA District Senior Games. Sports event for seniors 50 and older. Golf, pistol and rifle shooting, beanbag baseball, bowling, track and field and archery. Various locations; call 721-4020 for more information.
March 20-22 – Iowa Rabbit Festival. Hop on over to Lawrence Troups Memorial Park in Iowa for rabbit shows, a cook-off, live bands, the Miss Bunny Pageant, and so much more.
March 28 - 29, Southwest Louisiana Garden Festival. Sat. 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Burton Coliseum, McNeese State University, Lake Charles. A fabulous district flower show, plant health clinics and Garden Talk, along with plants and produce for sale.


April 9-11 - Louisiana Railroad Days Festival. DeQuincy Railroad Museum, DeQuincy.
April 17-19 - Spring Fest and Civil War Reenactment. Niblett’s Park, Vinton.
April 18 - Senior Games Archery Competition. SPAR Carlyss Park. Calcasieu Council on Aging.
April 24 25 -- Westlake Family Fun and Food Festival. St. John Bosco Church. Fri. 5 - 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Games, food booths and activities. Bingo, a live auction and entertainment.
April 29 - May 10 -- Contraband Days. Lake Charles Civic Center. It's Southwest Louisiana's biggest and longest festival. It’s also an extravaganza of lights, color, sound and people of every kind- from buccaneers to bikers to funnel cake makers. Come relax and enjoy while you watch the lighted boat parade on the lake. Other events include biker rallies, car show, helicopter rides, amusement rides, live bands, children's shows and fireworks displays. Watch the mayor walk the plank!


May 14-16 - Starks Mayhaw Festival, corner of Hwy. 109and 12, Starks
May 15 - June 5 --Downtown at Sundown. Downtown Lake Charles. Each show will feature a variety of music with different bands.
May 22-23 – Sulphur Heritage Festival, Henning Museum, Sulphur.

June 1-29 -- Catch - A – Concert. Lake Charles Community Band, 7-8:30 p.m. Mondays. Lake Charles Civic Center- Arcade Pavilion. Free outdoor concert in the park. Band performs a variety of music- Sousa marches, traditional and folk music, Broadway, movies, and TV show tunes.
June 19-20 – Juneteenth Celebration. Lake Charles Civic Center. Commemorating the end of slavery in the US, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the event in the country. There will be food, music and events for the whole family.

July 4 -- Red, White, Blue, and You. Lake Charles Civic Center Seawall. Celebrate everything that's great about being an American! Apple pie, parades, patriotism and especially fireworks! On the lake front, downtown Lake Charles.
July 4 -- Firecracker Futurity & Derby Night. Delta Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel. The road to the All-American goes through Vinton, Louisiana. Delta Downs hosts the Grade II Firecracker Futurity and the Grade II Firecracker Derby.
July 18-19 Cajun French Music Festival. Good food, good music and family fun are the highlights of this annual festival celebrating Cajun music.

Aug. 1-2 – Marshland Festival. Lake Charles Civic Center. Offering live entertainment, food, games, arts and crafts and more, this fundraiser for the community of Hackberry helps their youth to be able to participate in sporting events and youth organizations at local, state and national levels.

Sept. 12 – La Famillia Festival. Lake Charles Civic Center.
Sept. 18-20 - Cajun Bon Temps Festival, St. Theresa Catholic Church, Carlyss.
Sept. 27 -- Calca-Chew Food Festival. St. Margaret Family Center, Lake Charles. The music is really French, as is the food. Enjoy!


Oct. 10 – Vinton Heritage Festival. Horridge and Center Sts., Vinton.
Oct. 15 – Women’s Fall Conference. Lake Charles Civic Center.
Oct. 31-- Trunk or Treat. First Baptist Church, Lake Charles. A fun, safe environment for all ages with candy, games, pictures, hotdogs, Jolly Jump and more.

Nov TBA -- Mistletoe and Moss Holiday Market. Presented each year by the Junior League of Lake Charles. Civic Center.
Nov. 19-20. Moss Bluff Harvest Festival.

Dec. 4- 5 -- Sulphur's Holiday House. Henning Cultural Center, Sulphur. Glittering jewelry, mouth-watering treats, ornaments, home decorations, trendy fashions and more will be on hand to usher in the month of December.
Dec. 1– 31 -- Southwest Louisiana Christmas Lighting Festival. Enjoy Christmas parades, lights, and all the festivities that make December such a great time of year.


Jan. 10 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Jan. 31 ~ Freddie Pate’s Jamboree , Strand Theatre, 7 p.m. For advanced seat reservations call (337) 779-2343.

Feb. 7 - Relay For Life Mardi Gras Ball - Lake Arthur Community Center - 7 p.m. For more information call (337) 774-3675.
Feb. 13 - Grand Marais Mardi Gras Ball -Call (337) 616-8843 for more info.
Feb. 14 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park .7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Feb. 14 - Lake Arthur Mardi Gras Parade. Call (337) 774-3675 for more info.
Feb. 21 -- Cajun Squeeze Box Shootout. Strand Theatre. Fourth Annual World Cajun accordion championship during Jennings Mardi Gras. General Admission $5. For more info, call Polly Henry at (337) 821-5532.
Feb. 21 Jennings Mardi Gras Festival & Parade. The 17th Annual parade begins at 4:30 p.m. on north Main Street. Immediately following is live entertainment by T. Broussard & the Zydeco Steppers in Founders Park. For more information, call (337) 821-5532.

March 14 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

April 4 -- Jennings Lion's Club Poker Run. Call Kathy Broussard at (337) 616-8120 for more info.
April 5 -- The Thelma Richard Drama Showcase. Strand Theatre.
April 11 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

May 9 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
May 23 -- U.S. Open Clay Shoot Championship. Cajun Elite Shooting Club.

June 7-8 -- CHIPS Youth Theatre annual production.
June 14 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park at 7 a.m.

July 3 -- Stars & Stripes Celebration & Fireworks. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. Gates open at 4 p.m. Water fun for the kids, food, fireworks and live entertainment for all.
July 11 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park at 7 a.m.

August 8 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park at 7 a.m.

Sept. 6 - Roastin' w/Rosie Bar-b-que Festival Queen's Pageant. Strand Theatre. Call (337) 824-5636 for details.
Sept. 11–12 - Second annual Roastin’ with Rosie Bar-b-que Festival. Grand Marais Courtyard, N. Lake Arthur Ave. (formerly Stine Lumber). Live entertainment, good food & great fun for all ages. For more information, call (337) 821-5534 or .
Sept. 12 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park . 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Oct. 1–3 -- Jeff Davis Parish Fair. Fairgrounds, Hwy. 26 South.
Oct. 2-3 -- End of Season Stearman Fly-In. Jennings Airport grounds.
Oct. 10 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 -- Jennings Alive. Historic downtown Main Street. An open air market for tons of fun, shopping and great food for the entire family.
Oct. 29 --Main Street Trick or Treat. Downtown Main Street is closed off for local children up to 12 years old to safely trick or treat. Area businesses and local residents are invited to come to Main Street to hand out goodies to the little ghosts & goblins. Each year a costume contest takes place in Founders Park.

Nov. 14 – Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Nov. 20-21 - Girls’ Shopping Weekend. Early Christmas shopping comes to Jeff Davis Parish. This Girls Only Weekend includes lodging, pampering and more fun than you can imagine. Rise early and board the Party Bus Express & let the fun & shopping begin. Get your girlfriends, sisters & Moms together & sign up early. Limited accommodations. For more info, call (337) 821-5521.
Nov. 20-21 - The Jeff Davis Business Alliance annual shop early for Christmas promotion. Features Alliance members offering special sales promotions and refreshments for shoppers. Entertainment in Founders Park, includes Santa Paws and an assortment of local crafters. For more info, call (337)824-0933.
Nov. 20 - Dec 31 -- W.H. Tupper Museum Christmas Exhibit. 311 N. Main Street. Step back in time. See trees decorated with 1940’s Christmas ornaments from the Tupper family store. Also, see toys that were given as gifts to the children of that era. The Old Magnolia Room is converted to a Winter Wonderland with snow villages, dolls, bears, trains, trees and more.

Dec. 5 -- Christmas Parade & Festival. 5: 30 p.m. Main Street & Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. See Santa & Mrs. Clause arrive in Jennings on a City fire truck. Immediately following the parade, join the merriment at the Louisiana Oil & Gas Park for a huge bonfire, Christmas caroling, food and a gigantic fireworks display.
Dec. 5 -- 11th Annual Christmas Festival Gumbo Cook-Off. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. 4:30 p.m. Judging for cash prizes & trophies. Sample some of the best chicken & sausage gumbo made in the area. Then join the Christmas Festival. No admission fee.
Dec. 12 -- Second Saturday Flea Market. Louisiana Oil & Gas Park. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Dec. 12 -- Sounds of Christmas. Strand Theatre. 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. The annual community Christmas musical features live performances of traditional Christmas selections by local talent and special guests.

Wednesday, January 21

Autos in SWLA: Bargains are There as Dealers Struggle

As the country faces the worst economic crisis in decades, one of the hardest-hit industries is the motor vehicle industry. The figures are grim: The “Big Three” manufacturers predict that 40 percent of all dealers in the U.S. will be gone in five years.

According to the Motor Vehicle Registration service of Louisiana, 2008 vs. 2007 figures reflect a near 19 percent drop in vehicles sold in the Lake Area. While that’s not good, it’s a whole lot better than the national average of 30 percent.

The MVR is the source quoted with the fine print at the bottom of an advertisement when a dealer claims to be number one in sales for a particular period of time. Like the national dealers, Southwest Louisiana dealers were hit by the rise in gasoline prices during the summer months, as well at the downturn in the economy in the 4th quarter.

Folks weren’t too anxious to buy a car or truck when the Big Three were on the news every night hollering bankruptcy if they didn’t get their loans from Congress. Add two guys named Gustav and Ike to the aforementioned problems, and it’s a miracle any vehicles were sold in our market at all.

Car sales dropped by about 600. Truck sales--the bread and butter of most dealers in our area—crashed, with 2,200 less sold than last year.

The one bright spot in our area is imports.

A strong Lake Charles Toyota, and good Lake Charles Nissan numbers coupled with Navarre Honda moving 600+ Hondas made for a good year. Nissan of Lake Charles sold 1,159 units and Lake Charles Toyota signed 880 deals with their truck sales accounting for 500 of those.

Southwest Louisiana has always been truck country, and that helped soften the blow for dealers, since there usually is a higher margin in pickup trucks and SUVS. Still, with all the negatives in 2008 (which may go down as the worse economic year in our history), our area registered 1,945 cars, 643 imports and 7,616 trucks. 

Most dealers claim their used car business was good for 2008. According to CNBC, more and more auto buyers are looking at factory-authorized used cars that can often be purchased for thousands less than the price of a new car.

Navarre continues to lead

Navarre Chevrolet continues to lead in sales in our area, maintaining a 25+ percent share of the market for more than 10 years. The Silverado is a great truck, and the Honda car is about as good as an import gets. Nissan of Lake Charles has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years. John Stelly’s team sold 1,159 Nissan cars and trucks for 2008. Right behind in third place is Mark Dodge with 1,077. We understand Mark is looking to add an import line, which could put him in second place for 2009.

Since Radford sold its Buick franchise to Jack Hebert at All Star Pontiac in Sulphur, one would think that the Mazda franchise would be up for sale as well, leaving the dealership space wide open for a really nice used car lot if Radford does in fact sell Mazda to Mark or someone else.

Time to buy?

So, is this the ideal time to buy? According to the experts, it is., a valuable tool for car buyers, NADA (National Auto Dealers Association) and LADA (Louisiana Auto Dealers Association) are all telling car buyers that there are plenty of good deals and lots of money to be had.

Dealers have plenty of inventory, and very little time to move the merchandise under the factories’ new floor plan programs. But remember, just as in the real estate market, lenders have grown gun-shy of “No Money Down.” So make sure you have good credit and are able to put something down on top of your trade, and do your car-buying homework before leaving the house by surfing Web sites such as

As for the dealers, they will continue to fight for a bigger share of the market as they try to survive during these tough times. Automakers will throw designs in the air to see if something will fly as they listen to the angry taxpayers who say Congress should have let the Big Three take bankruptcy and operate under reorganization. One thing is certain: There’s plenty of guilt to go around regarding the automaker’s decisions in prior years.

And so it goes in the auto business.

Friday, January 9

At Home With Louisiana’s First Lady

By Sara Blackwell

I recently sat down with Supriya Jindal, the First Lady of Louisiana, in her husband’s spacious office at the governor’s mansion. A small red toddler’s riding toy in the hallway leading to the office is evidence of the first family’s young children. The hallway is lined with several oversized photographs of Supriya and Bobby Jindal at his inauguration. My favorite piece in the mansion is a painting of the first couple next to the Blue Dog, painted by George Rodrigue.

The governor’s wife kindly greets me, offering coffee and cookies. Stylishly understated in a black top and matching pants with a short, brown jacket; her black hair is simply styled and her make-up is subtle. 

Jindal is the eldest of two children; her younger brother is a lawyer in Virginia.  Her parents and her parents-in-law live nearby, enabling for close relationships between the families. She has lived in Baton Rouge and New Orleans virtually her whole life.

Not much in the four-story mansion has changed since it became the family’s home.

“The Governor’s Mansion Foundation was formed by Alice Foster when she was first lady,” Jindal said. “What they have done is raised private funds to maintain the mansion. So, all of the rooms you see that are so beautifully decorated have all been done mostly through her efforts and the foundation’s efforts. So, there is a board of the foundation that maintains them and they do a wonderful job. Everything looks so beautiful.”

However, there was one thing about the home that had to be amended. “The mansion traditionally has artwork from galleries and other art collectors,” Jindal said. “But one thing I noticed when I got here was that there was no place to salute our young children artists across the state. So, we dedicated one wall. When you walk out to the rotunda on your left, you will see two black frames.  Every month, we rotate out different children’s artwork from across the state.”

Jindal and her husband have a daughter Selia, 6, and two sons, Shaan, 4, and Slade, 2.  According to their mother, it took some time for the children to acclimate themselves to the mansion when they first arrived.

“It was hard for the kids at first to understand that there were parties going on . . . in the mansion that they were not invited to,” Jindal said.  “We had to explain to them that they had to stay in the back of the house or stay in their room.  So, it was a little challenging when we first got here, but I think they finally caught on.  The main thing is that they’re so young and they don’t fully understand the things that are happening around them.  I think that is a good thing.”

“When we first came, Bobby would have a meeting downstairs,” she said. “We would tell the children, ‘Look, Daddy has a meeting, be respectful of that.’ Lo and behold, they would go to the top of the rotunda and shout, ‘Daddy, it’s bedtime, read me a book,’ or ‘Daddy, so-and-so just hit me.’ Whatever the issue of the moment is. . .  But most of the people all had similar stories and could relate, so they got a chuckle out of it,” she laughed.

To help the children feel more a part of the events that take place on the first floor, Jindal described how she brought them outside on the courtyard of the mansion one summer afternoon with easels, canvases and paint.  After a fun day of painting, the children’s artwork was placed in a special place in the mansion. “Walk into the ladies’ bathroom and knock on the men’s’ bathroom and look in there. I allowed them to hang their artwork in there.  And, of course, their artwork is hanging in their bedroom upstairs.”

In a further attempt to create a feeling of home for the children, the Jindals have dedicated one room for their personal play. All three share a bedroom so that the extra quarters can be used as a place for their toys.  “We do not want them to feel like they live in a museum where they can’t touch anything or do anything,” Jindal said.

“We brought all of their toys from their old house and all of the old furniture and put it in that one room. We said, “Okay, this is your room. You can play in it,’” she said. “Bobby told them, “You can do whatever you want in this one room.”  The governor went up there one day and found that Shaan, who was three at the time, had written his name on the furniture he had brought from the house.

“Bobby said, ‘Shaan, why did you do that.  You would never do that at your old house.  Why would you do that here?’  He said, ‘Well, Daddy, you said I can do whatever I want in this room, so I put my name on everything.’  Bobby told him, ‘Don’t tell Mom I said that!’” she laughed.

The family tries to spend as much time together as possible, given the governor’s busy schedule. “What we try to do is bedtime rituals,” she said.  “After they brush their teeth and say their prayers, which is very important to us, he tries to work in a game of Hide-n-Seek or Simon Says, or just some type of little something before they read books.” 

The governor has made it to all of Shaan’s soccer games and he will be at Selia’s dance recital.  “The kids adore their dad and, of course, their dad adores his kids,” Jindal said.

Life in the mansion is exciting, Jindal said. “It’s been hectic; it’s been tiring; it’s been fun. There are always different events going on.”  There are constant tours throughout the day; several nonprofit groups meet at the mansion, and various events are scheduled throughout the year.

Jindal indicated that she has very little time for herself. She tries to stay up late and wake up early for some quiet time. She typically wakes before her children, using the time to exercise on the elliptical machine and with free weights. There is no need to leave the comfort of the mansion since the equipment is there for her use. In addition to working out, she uses her morning time to drink a cup of coffee with the newspaper.
When asked if she had any self-indulgences, Jindal didn’t hesitate: “Dessert—chocolate!” she laughed. She says her husband’s favorite is chocolate chip cookies, which he counteracts with exercise.  “[Bobby] exercises every day,” she said. “He makes sure he gets it in.  It is one of those things where I think it clears his mind and he feels good after doing it, and it gets him started for the day.” 

Jindal may not have ample opportunities to spend time alone, but in those rare occasions, she enjoys driving around the area.  “I used to enjoy quiet rides looking at the beautiful neighborhoods with good music on the radio and have some quiet peaceful time to collect my thoughts.  But that does not happen too much anymore,” she said.

Jindal enjoys jazz and classical music, but also listens to alternative music and tunes from the 70s and 80s. Her favorite artist of the moment is Josh Groban.  There is not much time for reading with her busy schedule, but she prefers legal and financial thrillers. 

When she’s not with her children, Jindal is busy carrying out her duties as First Lady of Louisiana. “I try to focus on things that affect children; that help children’s lives,” she said.  “I have gotten involved with the Pediatric Cardiology foundation. I have gotten involved with Special Olympics.  I try to do some things with Salvation Army, Red Cross and other charities as well,” she said.

“You will see me getting more involved with education going forward with our children, particularly science and math, given my background,” she said. “Hopefully, I will be able to talk to children a little bit about science and math and technology.” She is aware that many of the jobs of the future will require a lot of technical training. “We want to make sure our children are prepared for that.”

Jindal graduated from Tulane University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and went on to get her master’s degree from the same university. She worked at Monsanto Chemicals, and then went on to Albemarle Corporation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “The National Governor’s Foundation confirmed that I am the only engineer in the country who is [either] a governor or a first spouse,” she said proudly.

Although currently not in the work force, she plans to return in the future.  “It is one of those things where when you are working, you miss spending time with your children, and when you are with your children, you think of all those things that popped up on your desk,” she said.

At this point in her life, she indicated that it’s nice for her to be able to step out of the workplace. “I joke that I have my unpaid employment now,” she said.  “I can take on different issues and do things during the day while the kids are at school, and then when they come home, I am able to spend time with them doing their homework and all of their after-school activities.  I hope to go back to the work force one of these days. We will see when the time is right.”

At the end of our meeting, Jindal smiled for the photographer.  Several women touring the mansion seized her arm and showered her with praise.  Jindal never faltered in her role as hostess of the house as she graciously thanked the ladies for their kindness. Then, her Chief of Staff swept her away for the final photographs in the dining room, which was set for a pastor’s dinner with the governor. 

After the last picture was taken, the First Lady of Louisiana thanked me for the interview and disappeared through the back doors of the mansion.  Before we departed, my photographer and I invaded the bathrooms for a peek at the art created by the governor’s children.  Yes, I did spend some time in the men’s room at the governor’s mansion—but I had the first lady’s permission.

Local Legends: Entertaining Women of SWLA

By Lauren de Albuquerque

Zydeco Royalty: “Queen Ida” Lewis Guillory

“Queen Ida” is the first female accordion player to lead a zydeco band. Favoring a 31-button accordion, she is noted for her melodic playing, and for focusing on the treble side of her instrument.

Born in Lake Charles on Jan. 15, 1929, she was the daughter of a rice farmer. During harvests and other festivities, she often helped the womenfolk cook for 30 or 40 farmers. After dinner, accordions, rub boards, and harmonicas were brought out and music filled the night. Guillory came from a talented family—her father played the harmonica, and her uncles played the accordion and fiddle. Her mother also played the accordion, and it was her instrument that Guillory first learned to play, after taking piano lessons.

The family eventually moved to Beaumont, and then made their way to San Francisco with so many other Creole and Cajun people who were looking for better life at that time. But the family’s first language was French, and wherever they went, they took their culture and music with them. There were many friends and relatives in the Bay Area from Louisiana, so Guillory’s growing years were filled with the music and delicious food of her former home.

In 1947, she married a fellow Louisianan, Ray Guillory. Homesick for Louisiana, the couple began hosting gatherings for other displaced people from Louisiana, serving up both their native cuisine and their distinctive music.

But while Guillory loved her music, she spent her young adult years raising her family, and only pulled out the accordion for social occasions. When her three children were all school-aged, she became a part-time bus driver. As they grew older, Guillory's friends began encouraging her to perform publicly.

In the early 70s, she began performing with the Barbary Coast Band and also with the Playboys, immediately attracting a wide following. She got her stage name in 1975 during a Mardi Gras celebration in the Bay Area, where she was formally crowned "Queen of the Zydeco Accordion and Queen of Zydeco Music." The following year, she and her band played at the Monterey Jazz and Blues Festival. She also signed to GNP/Crescendo Records, a Los Angeles-based jazz label.

She soon got offers to tour in Europe, and her career took off. In 1982, Guillory won the Grammy for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording for her album Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band on Tour. She received her fourth Grammy nomination in 1986. She also won the WC Handy Female Blues Vocalist of the Year Award for 1989.

Guillory also co-authored a cookbook, Cookin' with Queen Ida in 1990, which featured Creole recipes. She continues to tour and perform, although she has not recorded any more albums.

All the World’s A Play: Rosa Hart

June 12, 1964) Born in Woodville, Mississippi, on Aug. 27 1900, Rosa Hart’s family moved to Lake Charles when she was 11. She graduated from Lake Charles High School in 1917, and from Sophie Newcomb College, a women’s college associated with Tulane University in New Orleans, in 1921.

A trailblazer from the start, Hart became the first female cheerleader in the nation during her years at Newcomb College and Tulane University. She claims to have been the first woman in America to be awarded the right to wear an athletic letter and was given a gold football.

She returned to Lake Charles after college, and taught at Lake Charles High School from 1921 through 1924, where she also directed the school’s plays.

In 1922, the Little Theatre Guild was formed in Lake Charles, comprised of a group of individuals interested in literature and the theater. Hart became a member of this group. Eventually, she and five others would become the founding members of the Lake Charles Little Theatre in 1927.

As with most fledgling little theaters, the group started out by offering evenings of one-act plays. On Feb. 24, 1927, the first production was announced. By the time the first plays were performed, there were 213 members and the theatre had $1,000 in its treasury—even though they were borrowing the facilities of St. James Episcopal Church to stage their productions.

Within a year, it appears that Hart assumed full directorial duties for the theatre. Since she had always been the driving force behind the organization, it seems only natural that she would take over full control. She was theatre director for 30 years, working diligently to make it all happen.
The final production of the 1947-48 season proved particularly interesting for the Little Theatre. Hart somehow managed to have Life magazine send a reporter, along with photographer Michael Rougier to Lake Charles to do a story. The group was doing The Great Big Doorstep, a play that depicted Cajun life.
As a result of the Life article, which ran in the June 28, 1948 issue, the Lake Charles Little Theatre helped to found the Sherman, Texas, Little Theatre; the New Iberia Little Theatre; the Central Louisiana Little Theatre (CENLA) in Alexandria; and re-organize the defunct Beaumont Little Theatre.
The Lake Charles Little Theatre had already helped start Little Theatres in Port Arthur, Opelousas, Crowley, Lake Arthur, DeRidder, and Lafayette. Members visited personally and helped direct plays, set up membership drives, and organize guidelines for the groups.
Hart formally retired before the 1957-58 season under the orders of her doctors due to a heart condition. But it was difficult for Hart to let go. As Director Emeritus, she still had a hand in the productions, but not enough to satisfy her ego and she ended up causing conflict among the new directors and actors. Eventually, she moved on, and opened the 3 R’s bookstore on Pujo St. until her death on June 12, 1964.

Nellie Lutcher’s Blues

Nellie Lutcher was an African-American R&B and jazz singer and pianist, who achieved prominence in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was most recognizable for her distinctive voice, and was credited as an influence by Nina Simone, among others. Her brother was the saxophonist Joe Woodman Lutcher and her nephew was Latin jazz percussionist Daryl "Munyungo" Jackson.

She was born in Lake Charles to Isaac and Suzie Lutcher on Oct, 15, 1912-- the eldest daughter of 15 children. Her father was a bass player, and her mother a church organist. She started playing piano at an early age, and her father soon formed a family band. At age 12, she had the honor of playing with Ma Rainey, when Rainey's regular pianist fell ill. Searching for a temporary replacement in Lake Charles, one of Lutcher’s neighbors told Rainey that there was a little girl who played in church who might be able to fill in.

When she was 14, Lutcher joined her father in Clarence Hart's Imperial Jazz Band. In her mid-teens, she married the band's trumpet player, but the marriage was short-lived. In 1933, she joined the Southern Rhythm Boys, writing their arrangements and touring with them.

In 1935, she moved to Los Angeles, where she married Leonel Lewis and had a son. She began to sing and play swing piano throughout the area, and developed her own distinctive style, influenced by Earl Hines, Duke Ellington and Nat "King" Cole, who was a good friend.

She was not widely known until 1947, when she performed at the March of Dimes talent show at Hollywood High School. Her performance came to the attention of Dave Dexter, a scout for Capitol Records, who immediately signed her to a contract.

Her first release, the R&B-styled “Hurry On Down,” became a US Top 20 hit that same year, and was followed by “He's A Real Gone Guy,” which went to No. 2 on the R&B chart and crossed over to the pop charts, where it reached No. 15.

In 1948, she had a string of further R&B chart hits, the most successful being "Fine Brown Frame," her third No. 2 R&B hit. She toured extensively and wrote many of her own songs. And unlike most African-American artists of the period, she retained the valuable publishing rights to them.

Eventually, her popularity faded, and during the late 60s and early 70s she took a staff job with the Hollywood Local Branch of the Musicians' Union, still occasionally playing clubs. Lutcher enjoyed a resurgence of popularity and continued to perform occasionally until the 1990s, in New York and elsewhere. She also invested successfully in property. She died in on June 8, 2007, at the age of 94.

Sources:MSU Archives, Artists

Seniors and the Computer

By Helen Pat Marcantel

If you ever wondered if older folks are using computers, this item from the CBS News website of July 21, 2008 should answer your wondering.

Kathryn Robinson, age 106, began using the Internet at age 98 when her nursing home in West Chester, PA made access available to her.

The world heard fairly recently that the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, does not know how to use the Internet. While we are now told that he quickly remedied that oversight, senior citizens in general are doing quite well with their computer use.

According to a report from the Pew Research Center dated July 24, 2008, 35 percent of seniors in this country use the net.  Out of this percentage, 75 percent are white, college-educated men.  What in the world are these people doing?  Playing games--a medley of Spider, Hearts, and Free Cell?  Copying recipes?  You may be surprised, you supple young people, ages from the very young to mid-life. Here's a sampling of what some "oldsters" are up to:

Ina Cowen, age 81, lives in Alexandria, Louisiana and has been using a computer since the early 1980's.

Q.  Where and when was the first time you used a computer, and what did you think of it?  Did you ever think it would be useful to you?

A. How did I first hear about computers?  That's a sort of dumb question if you don't mind me saying so. You would have to be living under a bucket not to know what the entire world was talking about, even in the early 80s.  I remember visiting my sister Jean in Harlingen, Texas.  She was using a computer, doing some work for her son, and I became intrigued.

The thought passed through my mind that maybe I could find some type of job using a computer at home.  My husband had died, I had four young children at home, and a job that took up eight hours of my day.  Well, that didn't pan out, but the computer bug definitely bit me.  I began college in 1983 at age 55 and remember buying a computer and using it for my college work.  Can't remember what brand it was or what the features were.

In 1997, I bought a Packard Bell to replace the original computer.  I still have this PB and use it mainly to check my bank account.  I don't bank on line though.  I am still one of those "Nervous Nellies" about putting my finances out for all the world to peek at.

In 2002, I bought a Dell computer with all the bells and whistles I wanted...mainly lots and lots of memory.  I've been very satisfied with it even though it's much smarter than I am.  How do I use it today?  E-mail takes up much of my time...too much.  I use the word processing to compile the mailing lists and labels for mailing invitations to our yearly art group show. I belong to another art group called “ArtQuest,” and I do the same for this group.  Also, I occasionally write letters.

I have an ongoing project that is way behind at this point.  I am scanning my photos and/or slides of my paintings to put them on a CD.  I have all of 1990 and part of 1991 done.  Since I've been painting in all of the ensuing years, you can tell that I'm way, way, way behind."

Q. How do you use the Internet?

A. As for the Internet, once in a while I'll order books, and I check around for various items of interest on eBay.  When my grandson Andrew is visiting, he uses the net frequently, playing games and visiting his chat room.

Q.  Could you do without a computer today?

A. Could I do without my computer today?  I would rather not.  I find it a great link to the outside world and to my good friends!

Q.  What would you like to see for seniors on the Internet, if anything?

A. Is there a dating service exclusively for seniors?  Just kidding.  There are lots of gadgets, and I'm sure, even more bells and whistles than I'll ever be able to master. I'm pretty satisfied with it just the way it is.

Jim Owen, Dallas, Age 70

Q. Where and when did you first learn of computers?  What did you think of them?  Did you think one would ever be useful to you?

 A.  I first saw a computer while I was attending college at Ole Miss in the early 60s.  It was an old-fashioned mainframe large computer, as large as a refrigerator. While taking a class in accounting, the professor introduced us to the computer.  It required using key punch cards.  I was about 20 years old and couldn't see how I would ever be able to use it.

 Q.  What prompted you to take the leap to using the computer?

A.  When personal computers came out in the 80s, then I became interested.  I used one at work, but just for e-mails.

Q.  How do you use your computer now?

A.  Once I retired, my use significantly increased because I was involved in several small businesses. I do cash flow charts, taxes, I keep all-important documents, such as birth and death certificates.  On the Internet, I do banking, keep up with organizations I belong to such as the PGA organization and the LSU Alumni Association.  I make purchases and also sell sports memorabilia, I research sports (mainly LSU), and also play various games such as bridge and Suduko.  I also e-mail.

Q.  Could you do without a computer today?

A.  I could, but it would make my life a lot harder.

Helen Carroll, Lake Charles, Age 75

Q.  Where and when was the first time you used a computer, and what did you think of it?  Did you ever think it would be useful to you?

A.  The late 80s was when I heard a buzz about computers.  I was not the least bit interested; my trusty typewriter was just fine.  Then in the 90s, I was seriously thinking about writing a book to help celebrate our small town's centennial. One of my sons told me I had to do this task on a computer, not my old typewriter.  "So much easier."  I felt intimidated by such cutting edge technology.  "I'm too old.  I can't learn how to do it, I'm sure of it."  He insisted that I could do it and brought a Compaq computer to my home and showed me how to operate it.

What did I think of it?  I was scared to death as I started on the book and saved every chapter about 100 times.  I progressed as I went along (especially when I learned about the "delete" key) and realized that computers were the way to go, although I had only scratched the surface of their use with word processing.

Q.  How do you use the Internet?

A.  I make purchases such as books, shoes, presents for family, etc.
I've even bid on eBay, winning the bidding on a doll for a granddaughter.  Information about any subject in the world is available by using the search engines.  I download road maps before I take any road trips.  I like Google and Yahoo.  I store photographs in the computer, I maintain two blogs (on-line journals), and of course, keep up with friends and family via e-mail.
I also play games when I have time.

Q.  Could you do without a computer today?

A.  Of course I could, but I would miss it terribly. Just thinking about going back to a typewriter makes me cringe.  Drudgery!

Q.  What would you like to see for seniors on the Internet, if anything?

A.  All websites should have great contrast so that print is easier to read.

Sue Guillory, Lake Charles, Age 60

Q. Where and when was the first time you used a computer, and what did you think of it?  Did you ever think it would be useful to you?

 A.  Sometime in the mid-80s, I had to operate a word processor on the job.  I thought it was an electronic typewriter. But then I learned that I could save whole pages, cut and paste paragraphs, delete, undo, etc. This was the greatest thing since the microwave, I thought.  Poof!  Procedures, documents, hundreds of pages, forms could just be replicated or adjusted.  No mo' liquid paper or carbons. Almost magic.
My first experience with an actual computer started in the early 90s at work.  I limped through different programs with huge databases and Excel spreadsheets, to name a few. Every time you caught on, they replaced it with a new system.  I hated it. But then I found what every red-blooded worker worth their salt finds and should thoroughly enjoy on the job:  E-mail!

Maybe in the late 90s, I bought my own PC, thinking hey, piece of cake, I know how to do it at work. Maybe it was apples and oranges, but no, it was AOL. and a Compaq.  Nothing nearly as smooth and fast as on the job. A friend decided to get a PC.  I told her to get ready for the most aggravating and frustrating time of her new life and to keep hammers and bricks away.  Later, my next computer was unfortunately a Gateway, but Rita took care of that for me. I now have a Dell.  I can set up a computer for myself and help deep-cyberspace-challenged friends.      

Q.  How do you use the Internet?

 A. Thru high-speed cable, of course. I use Outlook Express e-mail, and climb into my Mozilla Firefox to search. Wondering about something - anything?  Google it. Spelling? Hit tools. Find recipes, place a hold on a book at the library, read reviews, and there's so much more. Go ahead, surf the high-speed fiber-optic highway, then the day is gone and house was never cleaned.
Q.  Could you do without a computer today?

A.   If China or Iran ever launches a neutron bomb over America, we'll all be doing without a computer.   

Q.  What would you like to see for seniors on the Internet, if anything?

A.   Just like on the highway, their own s-l-o-w lanes.  You know, hit this key for seniors and get all the automatic help a human could need. Forget all that tech support hype, you've forgotten what your question was by the time or if they get back to you. What are you scared of, porn sites? Someone stealing your paltry checking account?  Lighten up and use common sense--that's what your Internet provider, anti-Spam and spyware are for. Your IP can set your security settings up.  Stay away from pop up ads.