Friday, September 7, 2018

Cabbage Patch Kids celebrate 35 years and the 140 million adoptions on Sept. 8, 2018, at their birth hospital in Cleveland, Georgia

Forty years ago, art student Xavier Roberts began experimenting with clay sculpture, “needle molding” and quilting techniques taught to him by his mother to produce a soft doll that resembled a baby. He called them “The Little People” and sold them at regional craft fairs, where he explained to buyers that he found them in a Cabbage Patch. He passed on instructions when he sold the Little People that those who “adopted” them had to be good parents.
The Little People were later sold in retail shops, each coming with a birth certificate and adoption papers. Then Roberts granted a licensing agreement to Coleco Industries of Hartford, Connecticut, in which Coleco would use the trademark “Cabbage Patch Kids.” In 1983, Coleco’s toy version of the Cabbage Patch Kids was introduced to the public.
To say these adoptive dolls took off would be a grave understatement. The Cabbage Patch Kids became the best-selling baby doll of all time, causing chaos during the holidays as parents stormed retail stores trying to buy the last one. Over the years, more than 140 million “adoptions” of Cabbage Patch Kids have been made worldwide.
If you think the Cabbage Patch Kids craze has lessen over time, here’s something to ponder. About 250,000 visitors come to Cleveland, Georgia, every year where at the BabyLand General Hospital new Cabbage Patch Kids are born. Visitors can visit the hospital for free and enjoy the store and this Saturday, Sept. 8, Original Appalachian Artworks (Roberts original company) and Wicked Cool Toys (the current licensee) are celebrating the birthday of the Cabbage Patch Kids. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., there will be free activities for children and free cupcakes and ice cream while they last. Prizes will be awarded all day and the grand prize will be a one-of-a-kind soft sculpture Little Person signed by Xavier Roberts, commemorating 40 years of delivering babies.
Want to experience the World of Cabbage Patch Kids and BabyLand General? Check out this video.
Weird, Wacky and WIld South is written by travel and food writer Chere Dastugue Coen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Forget Netflix, Lake of the Ozarks a beautiful place

If you’re like me, you just finished or in the process of bingeing the second season of “Ozark,” a Netflix series that concerns an American family forced to work for a Mexican cartel. The Byrds move from Chicago to the shores of Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri and experience a wide variety of culture shocks, with every stereotype imaginable, not to mention danger every step of the way.

The show is actually shot in Georgia, so don’t write off this idealic lake just because you think the Snells or Bad Dad Cade are going to get you. Here’s one reason why. Recently, Conde Nast Traveler named the Lake of the Ozarks’ Ha Ha Tonka State Park as the most beautiful spot in Missouri in its article of the most scenic places of each state. They weren’t alone. A few years ago, the park was also voted the fourth best state park in America by readers of USA Today.

The park's name, Ha Ha Tonka, derives from the local Osage Native American phrase thought to mean "laughing waters," in reference to the park’s large natural spring that pumps out more than 48 million gallons of water per day. In addition to the spring that’s the 12th largest in the state, there are 14 hiking trails and a natural bridge. Because it rests on the Niangua arm of the lake, the park offers plenty of opportunities to fish, swim and boat.  

The park's main attraction, however, is the fascinating ruins of the 20th century "castle" perched high on a bluff overlooking Ha Ha Tonka Spring and the Lake of the Ozarks. The structure was constructed as a country escape for Robert M. Snyder, a wealthy Kansas City businessman who died in one of Missouri's first automobile accidents (or was it the cartel, hmmm). Snyder never lived to see his dream realized but the home was completed by his sons and later operated as a hotel before being gutted by a fire in 1942. In addition to the outer walls of the estate, a stone water tower also remains.

Ha Ha Tonka is open year-round from 7 a.m. until dark and admission is free.

But back to the cartel, rednecks and hillbillies who make up “Ozark” and that bleak image of the lake on the show. The Lake of the Ozarks offers attractions and events as well as more than 200 restaurants and nightspots and more than 50 marinas. The lake sits in the center of the state with 1,150 miles of shoreline — and yes, that is more than the state of California.

But then again, Ha Ha Tonka State Park also contains a steep sinkhole named "The Colosseum," a 150-foot deep sink basin with two bluff shelters that were used as hide-outs by bandits in the 1830s. Hmmm again.

To learn more about Ha Ha Tonka State Park, visit

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen, who loves binge-watching a great Netflix series. They better bring "Ozark" back for season three!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The truth is out there…in Alabama

Note: This post originally was published in 2017. It has been updated to include this year's festival.

On Feb. 11-12, 1989, more than 50 people, including the chief of police, reported seeing odd objects flying over the small community of Fyffe in northeastern Alabama. The rash of UFO sightings, and the thousands of people who arrived looking for UFOs, resulted in the town being named the UFO Capital of the World. Not to be outdone, the state later proclaimed it the UFO Capital of Alabama.

On Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, the annual Fyffe UFO Day Festival will kick into gear. Visitors may not spot little green men flying around in saucers — or maybe they will! —but there will definitely be hot air balloons, arts and crafts, children’s games, 5K run, antique car and tractor show and food vendors.  

Photos courtesy
DeKalb Tourism
Headlining this year's event is Bucky Covington, whose self-titled debut album opened at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. His hits include "Different World," "I'll Walk," "Good to Be Us" and last summer's "Buzzin'" and "Drinking Side of Country" with Shooter Jennins. Also scheduled to perform is singer-songwriter Brandon Elder, Leah Seawright, Still Kickin', Willie Underwood and Family and Country Case.

Gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Fyffe Town Park on Graves Street, but the hot air balloons take flight around 6 a.m. Tethered rides are offered for the public around 6 p.m. and hot air balloon rides across the Sand Mountain will be available, weather permitting. For information, visit

Registration for the 5K begins at 7 a.m. with the race beginning at 8 a.m. For more information, click here.

Parking and admission are free and visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets. For more information on UFO Day Festival, call DeKalb Tourism at (888) 805-4740 or visit

Want to know more about that rash of UFO sightings in 1989 and a few Alabama UFO reports preceding Fyffe’s encounters? Click here.

Here’s something fun (or maybe weird), a commercial aimed at keeping teenagers from driving and drinking using Fyffe and its UFO reputation as a backdrop.

Cheré Coen is a food and travel writer who loves weird and unusual things. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

New Orleans art museums offer cool news when weather gets hot

Most Louisiana residents don’t wish for temps to soar in August. They’re too busy dreaming of autumn’s arrival. But if the heat index reaches 93 degrees in New Orleans, three city museums will offer free admission to Louisiana residents the following day. The participating museums are the New Orleans Museum of Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Contemporary Arts Center.

It’s all courtesy of The Helis Foundation

But there’s more. Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls will offer sno-balls for free on “Art & AC” days at NOMA’s front entrance and Helis will sponsor a raffle at each museum. Visitors should check-in at the front desk and receive one set of two tickets. Fill out the top portion of the ticket and turn it in for a chance to win one of two prints of "NOLA Color Study" by David Armentor. The other can be redeemed for one sno-ball.

To find out if the day’s heat index reaches 93, follow FOX8 in New Orleans with meteorologist David Bernard, along with NOMA’s Facebook page.

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Take 5: Wedding Bliss

Photo: September Company
Didn't get invited to a wedding this summer? No worries. Here are five places to get your wedding cake fix.

Snowballs in New Orleans
No, it doesn’t snow in New Orleans but shaved ice here means something fine and delicious. And snowballs aren’t just ice and flavored sugar, although it’s fine if that’s all you want. Snowballs in New Orleans also come stuffed with decadent things like ice cream and condensed milk or topped with fruit, marshmallows or whipped cream. Our favorite is wedding cake, so every bite makes us think of cool ballrooms with great music instead of sweltering summer heat.

Dutch Maid Bakery
Dutch Maid Bakery
The oldest bakery in Tennessee exists in the small town of Tracy City, founded in 1902 by Dutch Swiss immigrants Louise and John Baggenstoss and continued by Cindy Day. Dutch Maid Bakery still churns out delicious baked goods but some of the items begun by the Baggenstoss, such as fruitcakes, weren’t selling as well for Day. She started experimenting with moonshine cake, moist cakes in various flavors with a subtle touch of alcohol. We purchased the wedding cake flavor and brought it home to family, which devoured it in seconds. Talk about yum yum good!

Indulge's Cake Shake
In Lafayette, Louisiana, they take a cake and make a shake. Indulge's “Cake Shake” comes in many flavors, including red velvet, chocolate, oreo brownie and strawberry shortcake but we prefer — you guessed it — the Wedding Cake Shake! The premise is fairly simple, it’s a milkshake with a piece of cake blended inside. And if you still want a slice of wedding cake, Indulge sells that too.

Take that wedding cake down to size at Smallcakes, a “cupcakery” in Marietta, Georgia. This bakery serves up almond cupcake with almond buttercream icing that’s topped with edible pearls. It’s the perfect wedding cake fix if you’re watching your weight. Sure, it’s still loaded with calories but it’s only a cupcake, right?

Blue Bell
Finally, there’s Blue Bell “Bride’s Cake,” a delicious combination of almond-flavored ice cream with cake pieces and Amaretto-flavored cream cheese icing. It’s like having your cake and ice cream too! It’s a rotational flavor and we’ve heard rumors it’s only available in Louisiana, so check their website or your local market to be sure. 

Blue Bell is a true Southern creamery. Located in Brenham, Texas, the company began in 1907 and started exporting its creamy goodness outside the state in the 1980s. Today, the ice cream is sold in 22 states. If you’re ever in Brenham, take the Blue Bell tour.

P.S. In need of great wedding photos, we recommend September Company. They did my son's wedding and every photo was amazing!!

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen who will crash any wedding for a slice of wedding cake.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

New Orleans cocktails follow the calendar at Loa

We’re all about cocktails here at Weird South, so when Loa, the unique bar of the boutique International House of New Orleans, sent us a calendar featuring their inspiring and original drinks, we took notice.

The International House exists within a Beaux-Arts historic building in the city’s Central Business District, once home to the nation’s first World Trade Center. But everything about this hotel screams originality. Dreamy, exotic Loa is no different, offering flavors that match the city in which it dwells — whimsical, creative, pushing the limits, even bizarre. Jean Lafitte, one of the cocktails they created for the New Orleans Tricentennial, for instance, incorporated Spanish moss gathered at night from City Park.

Here are seven local New Orleans rituals with Loa cocktails by proprietor Sean Cummings and Loa’s creative director Alan Walter, as provided to us by the hotel’s press release.

Carnival [March] - Inspired by a glorious 19th-century watercolor series by Carlotta Bonnecaze, the first woman and Creole to design Carnival costumes and floats for Mardi Gras, Loa offers Five O’Clock Tea cocktails served by a costume-clad Victorian Jackass. Composed of Aperol, Mate Tea, Ojen, Local Citrus Oleo Saccharum, Prosecco, and Sorrento Lemons, the ritual cocktail provides guests with a more sophisticated take on New Orleans’ most famous holiday.

St. Joseph’s Day [March] - Sourced from Loa’s own Bywater lemon grove, Sorrento Lemons infuse Walter’s Limoncello in honor of the festive Sicilian holiday.

Summer Dress [May through October] - Like all well-bred deep-southern households, International House unwraps and cools down in style for the summer season. At Loa, Walter embraces this changing of season with a refreshing take on a NOLA classic: made with seasonal fruit sourced from lead bartender Nick Inman’s home orchard, a Granita is the adult version of the nostalgic snowball which has rescued New Orleanians from the oppressing heat since the 1930s.

St. John’s Eve [June] - In Vodou, devotees don’t merely pray to the hundreds of vodou spirits, or “Loa,” they literally serve them. So for the holiest day in the Vodou calendar, Walter partners with Sallie Ann Glassman, New Orleans’ most famous Vodou Priestess, to create his annual John’s Way Elixir, in which seven waters maximize the healing properties of ingredients grown by Walter and his select purveyors.

Winter Dress [November through April] - As shadows lengthen and the days become shorter, International House restores its decor from Summer Dress, while Loa honors the changing of season with a fall-focused cocktail, the Chien et Loup, an ode to that time of the day when a dog becomes indistinguishable from a wolf.

All Saints’ All Souls’ Day [November] - In heavily Catholic New Orleans, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day have been observed for centuries through rituals celebrating life over death. At Loa, Walter crafts an ode to the beautiful tradition, pairing Spiced Pecan Milk and Edible Flowers to mimic the whitewashed tombs, yellow chrysanthemums and red coxcombs adorning graveyards across the city, with Mezcal, an ode to the tradition’s Mexican roots. You can read our Weird South post on this here.

Magdalena [December] - To honor the female mysticism and explore the life and legacy of Mary Magdalene, Walter offers a soulful complement to a beautiful art exhibition, serving The Magdalene, a Green Chartreuse-based libation paired with Palestinian and Israeli Almonds, Turmeric, and Dark Chocolate.

Weird, Wild and Wacky South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen, a native of New Orleans who loves an unusual cocktail.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

You can have your beer caddy — and drink it too!

There are Build a Bear Workshops and paint with wine parties. Now, there’s a chance to build a six-pack beer holder while tasting a flight of six craft beers! 

It’s the Build-A-Beer Workshop this Thursday, July 19, 2018, at artspace in Shreveport, Louisiana. The fun begins at 5:30 p.m. and all parts and tools are provided to create a beer caddy while artspace Studio Artists will lend a hand. The six different beers to be sampled will be provided by Eagle Distributing Company/Budweiser, whose employees will answer questions about the brews. The beers will be GRB Rhinestone Life, a wheat IPA; Parish Canebrake Wheat Ale; Tin Roof Voodoo Pale Ale; New Belgium Fat Tire White Ale, a new beer from the brewery; Bells Two Hearted IPA, just ranked the no. one IPA in America; and Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale.

If that wasn’t enough incentive, a craft six-pack goes home with you as well. And…the first 30 people to purchase their tickets receive a bottle opener for their beer caddy.

Tickets are $30 and participants must be age 21 and over. Click here for more information. 

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen, who loves a great craft beer and a great craft project.