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.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fridamania hits the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Photos by Ellis Anderson, The Shoofly Magazine
Frida Kahlo, a magical realist Mexican painter whose vibrant artwork defined a nation, inspired women and influenced fashion, has become a role model for artists, political activists and just those wanting to dress up and have a good time. And Fridamania has spread to the Mississippi Gulf Coast where the annual Frida Fest happens every summer in Bay St. Louis.

The fourth annual Frida Fest coincides with the city’s Second Saturday ArtWalk from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14, 2018, in Old Town Bay St. Louis. There will be a Frida-look-alike contest, a Mariachi photo booth, gallery openings, face painting, tapas, pinatas and more! Want to see last year’s fun? Click here.

Here are some of the highlights of this year’s Frida Fest:
11 a.m.-6 p.m.: Taco Extravaganza at the Starfish Café, 211 Main St. (run by the PNEUMA-Winds of Hope organization dedicated to training adults in the culinary arts and life skills)

2 p.m.: Connie Bourgeois will help participants get “Frida-fied” with braids, brows and Frida makeup in the grassy area across from Smith & Lens at 106 S 2nd St.

3 p.m.: Piñata contest at Century Hall, 112 S. Second St.

4-8 p.m.: Free wine tasting at Bodega Spirts Liquor/Parrot Head Grill, 111 Court St.

4:30 p.m. Salsa tasting contest at Century Hall, 112 S. Second St.
Make your own little Casa Azul or decorate maracas with The Arts, Hancock County. Create a Frida Kahlo inspired self-portrait at the Main Street Methodist Church on the corner of Main and 2nd Street.

5 p.m.: Blue Magnolia will perform at the Mockingbird Cafe, 110 S. 2nd St.

5-7 p.m. Frida photos with Glitter the Goat at Social Chair, 201 Main St.
The Mexican Consulate in New Orleans will offer free Spanish books and tourism information.

5:30 p.m.: Loteria with Lugo on the patio at Smith & Lens, 106 S. 2nd St.

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. NOHA traditional dancers with Cesar & Julio Mariachi and Skinz n Bonez and Bay Ratz Marching Battery -- roaming and entertaining Old Town.

7:30: Frida Be You and Me look-alike contest with celebrity emcees Desiree Ontiveros and Kookie Baker and celebrity judges Lathsky Gitana and The Traveler Broads, Maloney and Fender. Registration for this event will be from 5 p.m. to 7p.m.

Don’t forget that this is the monthly ArtWalk so galleries and other businesses will be open and offering discounts, new artwork, refreshments and more. There’s also the 5th annual poker run benefiting CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) beginning at 10 a.m. 

Want to read more about Bay St. Louis, one of our favorite Southern towns? Click here.

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by travel and food writer Chere Dastugue Coen, who loves a creative Southern festival.

Monday, July 2, 2018

St. Louis celebrates 'America's Biggest Birthday Party' as it unveils Museum of Westward Expansion at the Gateway Arch

On July 3, the Museum of the Westward Expansion at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis officially opens, offering interactive exhibits showcasing the city's history and the country's westward expansion. The museum includes full-scale models of traditional French colonial log cabins and a replica of the 1852 Mississippi levee, among others.

The museum grand opening and ribbon cutting begin at 10 a.m., followed by a grand opening celebration at the North Gateway.

Then, in celebration of the nation's birthday on Wednesday, there will be "America's Biggest Birthday Party" July 4, 6 and 7 with musical acts such as Martina McBride and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, a parade and nightly fireworks.

The landmark Arch has seen lots of new updates, including a greenway allowing better foot traffic from downtown St. Louis to the river's edge and six miles of trails. The cramped but exciting ride up the 630-foot Arch remains and is a must-see for any visitor to St. Louis.

Need a place to stay? The closest hotel to the Gateway Arch is the Hyatt Regency St. Louis, which also received a renovation.

Weird, Wacky and Wild South blog is written by travel and food writer Chere Dastugue Coen. Part of this blog post contained information obtained by a press release from Hyatt Regency St. Louis.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Take 5: Write on! Five Southern accommodations with a literary bent

Monteleone Hotel, New Orleans
For two years F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, lived in a home in Zelda’s hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. Even though their time here was quick, they wrote portions of their novels, "Save Me The Waltz" and "Tender Is The Night." Now, the circa-1910 Craftsman house within the city’s historic Cloverdale district contains the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum and is the last home the Fitzgeralds lived in that’s open to the public. But here’s even better news – there’s a two-bedroom apartment with modern amenities and private access available for rent and guests receive a complimentary tour of the museum.

There were so many authors who visited Key West and some, such as Ernest Hemingway, who lived on the southernmost island of the continental United States. The Authors Key West Guesthouse, a bed and breakfast, honors those writers in its compound of historic Conch-style houses, suites and rooms. There’s even a pool spa for those who need to relax while drawing inspiration. While in Key West, be sure to visit the Ernest Hemingway House

Walk into the Monteleone Hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans and you’ll immediately spot a tribute to the authors who stayed, played or wrote here. Truman Capote claims to have been born at the historic hotel, but most will say his mother went into labor here. Other writers who have walked through the marble lobby have been William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Anne Rice, John Grisham and Stephen Ambrose. Even suites have literary names so you can stay in the William Faulkner Suite if you like. Hotel Monteleone is one of only three U.S. hotels to receive the Literary Landmark designation by the Friends of Libraries, USA.

4. Alexander House
Each room pays tribute to a famous author in the Alexander House Booklovers’ Bed & Breakfast in the quaint town of Princess Anne, Maryland, along the state’s Eastern Shore. There’s the jazz-inspired Langston Hughes Room, the nautical Robert Louis Stevenson Room and the more austere Jane Austen Room. View portraits of authors on the bed and breakfast’s wall or enjoy a good read in the home’s library. There’s even afternoon tea in the Victorian’s Café Colette, which is sure to inspire.

Writers are invited to live in residence at The Betsy in South Beach, Miami. The hotel offers a New York apartment-styled “Writer's Room” complete with fast internet, its own library and a desk donated by the Hyam Plutzik Centennial Committee to commemorate the poet’s time in Florida in the 1940s (Plutzik is also the father of hotel owner Jonathan Plutzik). Since the hotel began offering the Writer’s Room, more than 400 working writers have stayed here. To see who’s staying now, click here. But for the rest of us, there’s still that wonderful literary theme to enjoy — The Betsy places a bookmark with a poem on guests' pillows every evening. 

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes novels under the pen name of Cherie Claire. She adores a literary getaway.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Dogs leap for fun at the annual Canine Cannonball

Think only kids love to cannonball into water? This weekend it’s the 2018 Canine Cannonball at Dog Days Bar and Grill in Osage Beach in the Lake of the Ozarks, central Missouri. It’s a water Olympics for dogs, so to speak, consisting of three events that test each dog's athletic prowess. And no matter who wins, these dogs much be having the time of their lives.

Athletic events include the Big Air Wave, the canine equivalent to the long jump, where participating dogs run down the 40-foot by 8-foot competition dock and jump off into the water for distance. The Extreme Vertical is a dock dog's version of the high jump. In this leap-for-height event, a canine leaps high into the air off the "dock" to retrieve a toy suspended above the water. The third event, the Speed Retrieve, is a timed event that has the dog jump into the water and swim to fetch a toy.

Cannonball activities get underway today (Friday, June 8, 2018) with registration and practice rounds taking place at 1 p.m. The first official events begin with three heats of the Big Air Wave at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. On Saturday, registration and practice rounds begin at 10 a.m. with three more heats of the Big Air Wave taking place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Extreme Vertical event rounds out the day's competition at 5:30 p.m. The events conclude on Sunday with registration and practice rounds beginning at 10 a.m. followed by the final two heats of the Big Air Wave at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Speed Retrieve takes place at 3 p.m. with the Big Air Wave finals beginning at 5 p.m.

All Canine Cannonball events are free and open to the public. All donations collected throughout the weekend benefit the Dogwood Animal Shelter, a no-kill shelter in Osage Beach. Staff members from Dogwood Animal Shelter also will have adoptable pets on-site for the duration of the three-day Canine Cannonball. All adoptable animals are up-to-date on their vaccines and have been spayed or neutered. For more information on the Dogwood Animal Shelter, or to view their adoptable pets, visit www.DASLakeOfTheOzarks.comFor more information or to register your canine olympians, visit

For more information about the Lake of the Ozarks, visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau's (CVB) website at 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Cool off in Cave Spring, Georgia — and enjoy the history, food and shops of this quaint town

Cedar Creek in Rolater Park
There’s a reason for the name Cave Spring, Georgia. In this tiny hamlet 16 miles south of Rome lies a cave with — you guessed it — a lovely spring pouring forth. The Creek and Cherokee tribes were attracted to Cave Spring for its delicious waters, which later lured in European settlement (much to the detriment of the tribes). Today, the quaint town tempts tourists with its boutiques, antique shops, bed and breakfasts and restaurants.

If the weather’s hot, you can slip into one of the largest swimming holes in the state. Spring-fed waters pour into a stream that feeds a 1.5-acre swimming lake that's available for visitors and residents alike. And you can bring jugs to the spring-fed Cedar Creek and fill them up with that pure water or visit the cave the gave the town its name. The spring offers 2 million gallons of mineral water a day.
Home of Avery Vann
Historic buildings abound, including the 1838 Hearn Academy, the Hearn Inn and the 1851 Cave Springs Baptist Church, all situated in Rolater Park (where the cave is located as well). There’s also the old Georgia School for the Deaf and the two-story log cabin that belonged to Cherokee Avery Vann.

For those who love a little scare, some of these structures are reported to be haunted, including the School for the Deaf and the Cave Spring General Store, the latter of which has a very strange story. Even the cave is said to still be occupied by invisible entities. For a story about ghostly experiences in Cave Spring, plus some eerie photos, visit the Haunted Deep South blog.

This weekend (June 9-10, 2018) is the Cave Spring Arts Festival, with artwork for sale in Rolater Park. While you're there, be sure and visit Linda Marie's Steakhouse on the square, a delightful restaurant that serves up delicious food — it's popular with the locals so you know it's good — in an historic building.

Linda Marie at Linda Marie's Steakhouse

Weird, Wacky and Wild South is written by food and travel writer Chere Dastugue Coen who loves caves, good Southern food and a lively ghost story. Cave Spring had it all.