Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lafayette celebrates Hottest Night of the Year

Photo by Denny Culbert
        It’s hot in August in the South. Not that wamby pamby heat Northerners think is hot. Down here, it’s DANG HOT.
            But why sit around and complain, y’all? Won’t make it any cooler.
            In downtown Lafayette, Louisiana, which was just named the “Happiest City in America,” they celebrate — naturally — the “Hottest Night of the Year” with a cool party. This year’s event will be Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at the city’s downtown Parc San Souci. The fun includes a ferris wheel, live music by The Flamethrowers, food and more from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
            The craziest part of this family friendly hot festival is the annual pickup pool party. Participants bring their pickups — and you know South Louisiana has plenty of those — line the truck bed with a thick plastic liner and fill it up with water. Viola, an instant pool. Of course, in the land of Mardi Gras, these original pools come highly decorated.
             For those sans pickup pools, Parc San Souci offers a splash fountain, popular among youths any night of the summer, which in South Louisiana goes on for months. But hey, the heat’s not so bad when you have plenty of festivals to keep you entertained.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chuckwagon races Old West fun in Clinton, Arkansas

             Remember those silly commercials where dogs would chase tiny little chuckwagons around the kitchen, only to be disappointed that they vanished into a bag of Chuck Wagon instant dog food? OK, maybe we’re dating ourselves.
            We keep visualizing those scenes thinking about the National Championship Chuckwagon Races, to be held Friday through Sunday over Labor Day Weekend at the Eoff Ranch in Clinton, Arkansas. There will be about 150 teams competing in five different divisions for the title of National Champion, most likely shouting "Yaw, Yaw!"
            The idea for racing chuckwagons started with Dan and Peggy Eoff sitting around one Labor Day weekend thinking that a chuckwagon race would really take Labor Day up a notch. They started out small, but the word soon got out among chuckwagon professionals. Organizers estimate that about 20,000 to 30,000 people show up to watch the races in addition to the bronc fanning and the Snowy River Race, a horse race that includes two downhill runs and a plunge into the river, kinda like the dramatic scene in the “The Man From Snowy River” movie. Again, we’re dating ourselves because we loved that scene.
            There’s also live music and dances on Friday and Saturday evenings, a movie night, karaoke, vendors of western collectibles and other items at the Western Trade Show and Ozark Mountain trail rides beginning on Tuesday.
            But here’s what the chuckwagon winners take home — in each division silver belt buckles and more than $20,000 in prizes, which includes saddles, jackets and “Chuckwagon Bucks,” or prize money to be spent at the Trade Show.
            Want to see more? Check out this slideshow from the 2013 event.
            And if you don’t remember that chuckwagon commercial, check it out here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Relive the golden years of American motels at Savannah's colorful Thunderbird Inn

            Visiting Savannah, Georgia, is a trip back in time — but most people think at least 100 years or so. Here’s an historic attraction that will make Baby Boomers swoon.
            The Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia, is a renovation of the popular motels of the 1960s. It was built in 1964 at what owners call “the intersection of ‘Yes, ma’am’ and ‘Dude!’”
            To add a little more fun to the retro motel experience, for breakfast the Thunderbird serves Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the lobby and places Moon Pies on your pillow. The Super King Room even has Magic Fingers, where a quarter in the slot makes your bed come alive. You can see why it was named to the Top 10 Retro Hotels in the US by USA Today.
            To celebrate the motel’s 50th birthday, the Thunderbird will be offering 50 percent off rooms every day in August and December throughout 2014 and Sundays through Thursdays from September through November, 2014. Prices are reasonable to begin with so this makes the time travel even more attractive. Use the promo code “50TH” when making reservations.
            There’s even a 50 percent off the dog deposit.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A howling good time in a Southern cemetery

            On Labor Day, 1937, Key Underwood lost his beloved hunting dog, Troop. He and some friends wrapped the dog in an old cotton pick sack and buried him in a special place where they had all shared good times. Underwood added a sandstone chimney rock on the grave, with Troop’s name chiseled into the stone.
             Over the years folks have buried their coon dogs on this ridge in the Freedom Hills of Northwest Alabama, at 4945 Coon Dog Cemetery Road in Cherokee. There are now more than 300 coon hound graves in what has become the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Cemetery and the site includes two memorial monuments depicting treeing coonhounds.
            The site is truly one of a kind.
            And so is its annual event.
            To celebrate the lives of the canine companions buried here, the cemetery hosts an annual Coon Dog Cemetery Labor Day Celebration. This year’s event will begin at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 1, and close at 4 p.m. The public is invited to the free event that will include live music, barbecue dishes and arts and crafts vendors.
            “We will welcome back the Southern Strangers to play their old-time bluegrass music and, as an added attraction this year, we will have Kerry Gilbert and the KGB Band,” said Janice Williams, president of the Friends of the Coon Dog Cemetery, Inc. “Our special friend and coon hunter, Sean Thompson, is bringing eight Redbone pups, born on the Fourth of July. These full-blooded eight-week-old hound pups will be for sale and Sean is donating all the profits to our organization to help with the upkeep of the cemetery.”
            Attendance is free, but sales that day will benefit the Friends of the Coon Dog Cemetery’s fund for the preservation of the site, part of the Freedom Hills Wildlife Management area, stated David Isom, treasurer of Friends of the Coon Dog Cemetery, Inc.
            Mitchell Marks, wildlife biologist and superintendent of the Freedom Hill, stated that the group hosts the annual Coon Dog Labor Day Celebration and serves as caretaker of the cemetery, providing grounds-keeping and decorations, as is customary, once a year for the celebration. Burials, which require meeting certain guidelines, are also coordinated by the group.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Steamy August is time for a "Beer-Cation"

            There are staycations (where you vacation close to home), fun-filled playcations and the old-fashioned vacation, defined by Webster as “a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel.”
            Well credit the South for coming up with “Beer-cation.”
            It’s the brainchild of the Virginia Blue Ridge region, famous for its delicious wine industry. Not to be outdone by the almighty grape, six participating breweries in the Roanoke area have created the Virginia Blue Ridge Beer Loop and are offering a “Hop on the Loop” sweepstakes this month in honor of Virginia Craft Beer Month.
            During August, craft beer enthusiasts who visit six participating breweries and have their card validated will be entered to win gift certificates and merchandise. Visitors that receive validation from all six breweries will be eligible for $150 in gift certificates to the participating breweries. For those who visit three or more locations from Aug. 1-31, there are more prizes to be won.
            Of course, you must be 21 or older to partake and/or win.
            Participating breweries in “Virginia’s Blue Ridge Beer Loop” are Big Lick Brewing Company, Callaway Brewing Company, Chaos Mountain Brewing, Flying Mouse Brewery, Parkway Brewing Company and Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers.
             A downloadable brochure with details about the sweepstakes and brewery information can be found here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Twiggy the water-skiing squirrel

     The Louisiana Outdoor Expo was recently held at the Cajundome in Lafayette and wouldn’t you know a squirrel stole the show! And no, he didn't fry inside a transformer as usual, setting off an electrical outage. This guy was all performance.
    Here’s Twiggy waterskiing in a makeshift lake.

     According to Wikipedia, Chuck and Lou Ann Best of Florida found an orphaned squirrel after Hurricane David and taught "Twiggy" how to ski behind a remote-controlled boat. The duo appeared on “Real People” in 1979 and other TV shows.
     Since then, “Twiggy” has morphed into several gray squirrels trained to ski.
     One or more of the Twiggys has appeared in films such as “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Down to Earth and “Megamind. 
     Thanks to Lisa Hanchey for sharing her video!