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November 2014

November 2014

2014 Sounds of the Trail: Live Music Gets the Party Started

On the Trail, we like a good party with great music and it would make sense that most of our events feature some good ol’ Louisiana talent for Trail-goers to enjoy. Here are a few of the events at which I am excited about listening to some sweet music.

This weekend, prepare to have your socks rocked off by two very talented Louisiana-born musicians right in historic downtown Natchitoches. Performing at “Turn on the Holidays” on November 22, Amanda Shaw and the Matthew Davidson Band are prepared to bring some Cajun flair to the holidays. Also this weekend, Minden will be bringing its German heritage to the Trail with the “Fasching Fifth Season” Celebration starting at 10 a.m. Enjoy live music all day long on three stages in historic downtown. Visitors can expect music ranging from bluegrass and pop to rock and Cajun.

Shreveport gets in the mix with the youth of its community. “Christmas in Roseland”, located at the Gardens of the American Rose Center, will be showcasing Shreveport’s own talent throughout November and December. Visitors will see performances from Summerfield Elementary Guitars, Red River Ringers, Country Diamonds and the Waller Baptist Silent Singers.

Publications Director Beth Smiley is excited for the return of one group this year, “If you have not seen the Waller Baptist Silent Singers, they are the ones to see. They perform sign language to traditional Christmas tunes we all love.”

On December 6,Monroe-West Monroe brings “Red River Son” to the Downtown River Jam for the holiday edition of this popular local music series. Lead guitarist, Jake Hall loves playing around the holidays. “Shows during the holidays bring people together more than any other time of the year. It makes shows more special because we get to really connect with our fans as we play.”

For more information on all of these events and other events on the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights, visit each city’s page on our website.

Deck the Halls with help from the Trail

We at the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights love Pinterest because of the ways that we can find how to decorate our homes for the holidays. For me personally, I love to find interesting crafts that will make my home look professionally decorated but not break my budget.


One of the easy crafts I made via our Pinterest page was a snowflake made from popsicle sticks. These reminded me of the lit up snowflakes along the banks of the Cane River during the Christmas festival in Natchitoches. Here are a few of the crafts from our page that I want to try for the holidays.

Card Tree

Card Tree: No mantle? No problem! This card tree is an easy way that you can show off all of your holiday cards without taking up your entire table. All you need is washi tape, string, tinsel or garland, star to top and clips to hold the cards.

Table top tree

Ornament Tabletop Tree: Looking for a decoration for the table that is not the norm? Try this decorative tree made with beads from Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is a tradition in Louisiana where festive parades throw beads and other items that are highly collected. The beads can be bought from a local craft store if you haven’t made the trip to Mardi Gras yet.  All you need to make this tree is a Styrofoam cone, glass ornaments, Mardi Gras beads and hot glue.


Footprint Deer: If you have a child, this holiday craft will allow you to remember the holidays in a special way. All you need is canvas or white paper, paint in brown/gold, red, blue, black and a black marker. Just put your child’s bare foot into the paint and press them gently on the paper then let it dry. Once they are dry, you can add antlers, eyes, mouths, noses, and more that makes each print special to your child.

sock snow

Mismatched Sock Snowmen: If you have a lot of socks lying around with no match, this may be the perfect way to use some of them. All you need is a few socks, a cup, rice, rubber bands, and cute decor. Fill the sock with the rice by placing the sock over the cup full of rice. Rubber band the end and use additional rubber bands to shape the snowman. Decorate the snowman to your liking with buttons, ribbon, yarn, and more. All of these crafts are easy and fun to do. For more craft ideas, check out our Pinterest page for more ideas.

Taste of the Trail: Mariner’s sets a Romantic Atmosphere

Taste of the Trail: Mariner’s sets a Romantic Atmosphere

Recently, my boyfriend and I went on a day trip to Natchitoches and wanted a romantic dinner before heading home. When looking for the perfect place we needed a local restaurant where the atmosphere has small town feel with big time flavor. We found that at Mariner’s Restaurant, located right on Sibly Lake at 5948 Hwy 1 Bypass.

Mariner’s is almost hidden behind a hill on the south side of the lake, right off the highway. This makes this restaurant seem like an exclusive member’s only club, but its not! We ate in the main dining room. However if you are looking for a more relaxed place to watch a sports game, Mariner’s offers the Cove and Deck for those who want to just have a drink or appetizers while watching LSU play.

When walking into the restaurant, you are greeted by low lighting and soft music. The staff were patiently waiting to serve us with a smile. We arrived about 30 minutes before sunset, and that was the best choice we could have made. Each table in the main dining room had a beautiful view of Sibly Lake and the wildlife that inhabits it. The cranes came close to the window while we were eating and gave us an evening show while we watched the sunset.

I am a steak and potatoes kind of girl, so I have high expectations when it comes to a good steak. I ordered the steak tips and a baked potato, and I think this might have been the best steak I had in a while. Mariner’s uses a sweet marinade to keep the steak tender overnight before grilling to your liking. They serve it with their own version of steak sauce, which again has that sweet pop of flavor you are not expecting.  My boyfriend had the seafood platter with fried shrimp and fried crawfish tails. He said, “If you have the chance to get crawfish tails without having to do the work, that’s a plus, but if you get them and they are really good, that’s the best.” If it means anything, he cleared his plate within minutes and wanted more.

For a restaurant with dinner and a view, check out Mariner’s tonight.

Shopping on the Trail: Find that Perfect Gift!

If you are like me, I try to get all of my holiday shopping out of the way as soon as possible to beat the crowds. However, there are the occasions that I miss someone and need to run and get a last minute gift. Each of the cities on the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights have wonderful shopping opportunities, but these are the few that I would recommend for the loved one who has it all.   Shreveport-Bossier - To find something distinctively Cajun, be sure to check out Tubbs Hardware, located at 615 Benton Road in Bossier. This shop has been in the area since 1922 and is still going strong, specializing in Cajun gifts and outdoor products. From hot sauce and seasonings to music and clothing, Tubbs has everything you need to give an authentic Louisiana gift this holiday season. Minden - If you are shopping for the special lady in your life, be sure to check out downtown Minden for Pink Pratique. Pink Pratique, located at 731 Main Street, sells lingerie and bath products for that romantic holiday gift. They also specialize in post breast surgery products, which can be rare to find. The ladies at the store are all certified in bra care and will make sure that even the novice shoppers come out with something perfect. Monroe-West Monroe - I love food gifts, especially tea. The Spice and Tea Exchange, located on Antique Alley at 211 Trenton Street in West Monroe, helps me get my fix. There are dozens of varieties. Looking for something that reminds you of the holidays? Look no further than the “Teas the Season” collection, only around for winter.   Natchitoches - For the kids, you need to explore The Rocking Horse Toy Store, located at 628 Front Street in downtown Natchitoches. Both boys and girls will love this small town toy shop with big selections of toys for toddlers and tweens. One thing that makes this toy store special is the focus on learning through play. All of the toys at the Rocking Horse Toy Store are both fun and educational, which makes for happy kids and parents, too.   Alexandria/Pineville - If you are looking for the perfect home interior and gift store, look no further than Terra Home, located at 1355 Peterman Drive in Alexandria. This quaint shop is locally owned and specializes in home décor, jewelry, stationary, and more. Along with clothing and shoes, Terra Home has plenty of gifts for the wine lover in your life ranging from wine related t-shirts to carrying bags with catchy phrases on them.   Shopping on the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights is easy, but picking something to take home will be the hard part! For more information on each city, click on each city’s tab on our website.

2014 Where to Eat and Shop in Shreveport-Bossier *Contest*

When it comes to early Christmas shopping, I like to have a one-stop-shop for everything, including a bite to eat. In Shreveport-Bossier, there are some great places to do both, making it convenient for holiday visitors to the area. Here are a few of my favorite places to eat and shop: Wine Country Bistro and Bottle Shop: If you are looking for a gift that will impress your friends, be sure to check out Wine Country's (4801 Line Avenue, Shreveport) extensive selection of seasonal craft beer and fine wines. The European cheese counter is staffed by knowledgeable members of the Wine Country team who will be able to help pair the perfect cheese to any wine for those last minute holiday parties. If you have time, make sure to dine in at the bistro. I recommend the pan seared chicken, served with truffle mac and cheese and grilled broccolini. Biscotti's at Lewis Gifts: A local favorite, Biscotti's (5807 Youree Drive, Shreveport) specializes in Southern favorites, such as fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits. Peruse the adjoining Lewis Gifts for keepsakes, fine art, cooking accessories, and more. This charming gift shop brings the southern hospitality home with small touches like gift wrapping and a friendly staff to help with all your holiday needs. Artspace: Artspace (710 Texas Street, Shreveport) is one of those gems that art and food lovers can appreciate. The Café at Artspace, located on the mezzanine level, features fresh salads, homemade soups, and gourmet sandwiches. Before or after lunch make time to shop in Giftspace filled with local artists handmade jewelry, clothing, home accessories, paintings, and books.

If you stop in any or all of these places you are sure to find some special gifts and stocking stuffers. We'd like to give our loyal blog readers a chance to win a complimentary early Christmas gift. One of our local partners, Splash Kingdom Water Park (7670 W. 70th Street, Shreveport) gave us two season passes for the 2015 season to give away to one lucky reader.

Splash Kingdom

Here is how you enter to win: (be sure to do this through the Rafflecopter box or your entry will not be included!) Entry 1: Like Holiday Trail of Lights on Facebook Entry 2: Tweet @HTOL2 with the message provided in the box Entry 3: Like Splash Kingdom Water Park- Shreveport on Facebook Entry 4: Sign up for our e- newsletter for future contests a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bring in the holidays with Shreveport-Bossier

“This Christmas season offers family-friendly events all along the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights,” said Brandy Evans, chairwoman of the HTOL board. “Our kickoff events are a way to get all of our communities involved in the festivities that run through the New Year’s and get them to think about all the cool things they can do with their visiting friends and relatives.”

The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights kicks things off early in Shreveport-Bossier with the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Outlets at Louisiana Boardwalk, 6 p.m., Nov. 13. This event will get the community and visitors engaged in the holidays with live entertainment, a free gift to the first 500 children and “snow” at the outlet shopping, entertainment and dining riverfront venue. Can’t make it out this week? Here are some of my favorite events for the holiday season:

  • Nov. 22 – Fasching Fifth Season Celebration in Minden pays tribute to the “Friendliest City in the South’s” German heritage Mardi Gras style.
  • Nov. 28-Dec. 21 – Christmas in Roseland is a whimsical walking tour of life-sized Christmas cards, carolers, and more. The Shreveport center boasts more than 1 million twinkling lights throughout the 26-acre park.
  • Nov. 22 – Turn on the Holidays, the opening to the 88th Annual Christmas Festival in Natchitoches, as featured in Steel Magnolia, wows visitors every year with entertainment, fireworks and food.
  • Nov. 29-Dec. 13 – RiverMarket Days: Christmas at the RiverMarket in Monroe is a French-style market that offers produce, artisan handmade gifts, and entertainment in a true “town square” setting.
  • Dec. 5-28 – The Holiday Light Safari in Alexandria/Pineville at the Alexandria Zoo is a great place for families to see light displays, take a train ride, and walk through the zoo all aglow with twinkling lights.

For more information on any of our events, visit each city’s page on our website.