Saturday, December 15, 2012

Take a Trip to the 2012 Natchitoches Christmas Festival

I've lived in Louisiana all of my life, let's just say over 50 years, and I've never gone to the Natchitoches Christmas festival before Christmas.  We've been after Christmas before and we've seen the lights, but I've never gone and seen the fireworks and the crowds.

Oh goodness the crowds.  Now I know why I haven't done this before.

The Natchitoches Christmas festival is grand; it's wonderful for the city, for tourism, and for the state.  It draws people from miles away through the entire month of December.  The festival first began in 1926 and kicks off with a Christmas parade and the turning on of the lights.  It draws over 100,000 people each year who leave the city flush with tourism dollars.  Like I said, it's wonderful.

But I hate crowds.

Hate them.

Yet I had some shopping to do, and silly me, I thought I could just cruise through the Front Street shops like always and knock out my shopping in an afternoon.  I have no idea why I thought this could happen.

Our first clue that we were screwed was when we had to park some four blocks from downtown and even then had to "urban offroad" onto a grassy hill to park the Jeep.  And we were damn lucky to get that.

One of the better decisions of the day was to go ahead and eat.  We went to our favorite, The Pioneer Pub, for burgers, pub fries, and beer.  Business was brisk and steady.  We are long time fans of "the Pub."

All of the food at the Pub is made fresh and the extra effort pays off.  Everything we've tried there is excellent.  It was, of course all decorated for Christmas complete with stockings hung by the fireplace:

Our first shopping stop was Kaffie-Frederick Hardware Store.  

It was way too crowded.  I could not move.  Every aisle was filled with streams of people.  Again, this is a good thing for Natchitoches, but not a good thing for me.  I found the Michael Henry books, though, and replaced my copy of Atmosphere of Violence which I have loaned out to someone.

Steve found a pillow he liked:

and we looked at some unusual Christmas trees.

I liked this vase a lot.  It is quite tall and very heavy.  It looks sort of like a candy cane:

I didn't buy it, but I liked it.

I picked up a couple of gifts and we paid up and got out.  I love that they use the old cash register - no computerized model for them!

The buggy tours were working overtime; it was over an hour wait in a very, very long line for a ride:

We walked right on past that.

We found a new antique store (open since April) on St. Denis street: Tres Bien Antiques.  I loved this store partly because it wasn't filled with tourists.  I bought several gifts in there and Steve found a bar for sale:

It was an impressive set up, but who in the world has the room for that?  It was huge.

The best part of the day was finding our old friend J. Michael Kenny right next door with his own new antique shop!  We were crushed when he closed his shop, The Book Merchant, this year.  But he's back, and has a nice antique shop.  He even kept his old sign:

That sign is iconic to anyone who loves Natchitoches and Front Street.

The next thing we had to do was stand in a restroom line (all the portable facilities were down by the river and you had to pay $5.00 to get down there).  The shops all have signs that say "No Public Restrooms" so you're forced to stand in a very long line (if you're female) at the end of Front Street.  By the time I got out of that line it was dark already (30 minutes) and we had to hurry and finish our shopping.

We did finally pony up our $10.00 and go down by the river to see the lights.

There were so many people down there you could not walk.  Wall to wall.  People were line up 30 deep in front of the food vendors while others were laying on blankets and sitting in lawn chairs by the river waiting on fireworks.

But the lights are wonderful.

Grand for Natchitoches.  We threaded our way through the masses, went back to the Pub for a beer and some fried alligator bites, then hit the road for home.

Next year, I'm going between Christmas and New Years.  No crowds.  You can still see the lights and you can walk along the river without masses of humanity in your way.

But, everybody ought to do it at least once!  It's a great family event and great fun.

Natchitoches, I love you, but I'll see you next year.

Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation
Take a Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Oktoberfest at BAFB

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did it once in the 80's. Crowd was too much. Now I go only on the days other than the main festival. They used to have fireworks every Saturday at 6. Not sure if they still do, but that was a great time to visit.