Sunday, July 03, 2011

Rebirth, festivals and small town America

Happy Independence Day! I'm posting this slap dab in the middle of the 2011 July 4th Weekend and am hoping that the two readers of this post are enjoying themselves. ;)

We spent our "celebrating America's Independence" Day in one of my favorite cities, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Located about 40 minutes from our home in Slidell, Bay St. Louis epitomizes the "comeback city".

On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina made her final landfall at Bay St. Louis. The little town was flattened and it still working on her rebound. In the past six years she's done well.

click on picture for full size version

My husband and I take pleasure from our trips to Bay St. Louis, especially when we want a fantastic burger. We either go to the Mockingbird Cafe or the Buttercup Restaurant. Both restaurants are on the same street. The joys of small town America.

About four years ago we attended the Crab Festival put on by Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church in Bay St.Louis and appreciated the atmosphere, food, music and breezes from the Bay. So we decided to revisit the fest this year and were not disappointed.

While we truly love the French Quarter, PoBoy, Oyster and countless other Festivals in New Orleans, the ambience and down home comfort of a festival away from the Crescent City is a welcome hot weather diversion. The OLG (Our Lady of the Gulf) Fest is well done and small enough allow us park our chairs in a shady spot and take off for a few hours of eating and photography and return to find our chairs still there, unoccupied.

There were more than 50 dishes offered, a good deal of them containing the subject of the Festival.

Here is the food we sampled and savored:

Boiled shrimp (very tasty) and Lake Pontchartrain Crabs (sweet crabmeat)

Fried Catfish with fries, hush puppies and coleslaw

Crabmeat pie and fried softshell crab with cole slaw and seafood smashed potatoes

In between stuffing our faces we took walks and pictures. Our first foray was thru the arts section of Bay St. Louis.

This sweet little courtyard is dedicated to Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, a colonizer in the Gulf Coast region.

Here is a closeup of the plaque in the opening of the courtyard. Apparently Bay St. Louis was originally named Shieldsboro after Thomas Shields, a ship's purser.

Main Street is the section of town that I love to haunt. It has shops and galleries that beg to be discovered.

This building is one of the few that survived the 30 foot storm surge of Katrina.

One of the tenants of this building, Bay Breeze, rents bikes and kayaks. It also sells home furnishings.

A little watering hole on Main Street by the Bay.

One of the art galleries we visited was Maggie May's, a purveyor of local art.

I asked the owner if I could take pictures inside and she said as long as it's not of the artwork. So I took a picture of this nifty glass block window:

There were some very nice pieces and paintings in the gallery which takes up a city block. Plus it has air conditioning, making it a perfect spot if you're visiting BSL in the summer to take a break from the heat. Attached to the gallery is Lulu, a great little spot to catch a bite to eat. .

Moving across the street we found one of our favorite bread baker Serious Bread. We went inside and got a lovely, crusty loaf of bread and two craisin scones along with a complementary bottle of water from the owner himself! Mr Jensen makes fantastic scones, not dry like most that I've sampled.

Fueled up for another leg on our jouney around downtown Bay St. Louis, we carried on and soon discovered the sweetest little community garden which seems to be doing well despite our dry conditions this summer. Here are some pictures of their crops:

This old place is right next to the Mockingbird Restaurant on 2nd Street.

In the garden outside the Mockingbird is this very cool bottle tree.

On the other side of the Mockingbird Cafe is The Shops at Century Hall. Originally built by the Woodmen of the World for fraternal functions, Century Hall now houses an art gallery and many rooms of vintage antiques and one of a kind items. It's a great place to spend an hour or two.

Here are some of the sights we found interesting:

I found this piece to be rather spooky.

I love this stained glass. Unfortunately, my little tiny house has no room for it.

There is a room devoted to old kitchen tools.

Another room is filled with folk artist and Bay St. Louis resident Alice Moseley's work, including this video of Alice explaining her art. In another part of BSL you can visit Miss Moseley's home, which is now a museum.

This plaque depicts the story of BSL's "angel tree". The background to the story is here..

Century Hall's next door neighbor is an ancient cemetery, which I found fascinating.

Doves carved into a tree that died from the saltwater intrusion from The Storm seem to flutter among the graves.

some graves were behind old gates like this one

This angel, most likely carved from a Katrina tree, presides over the small cemetery.

Back at the Crab Fest they were still boiling crabs and shrimp

Ceiling fans and the breeze from the Bay kept it tolerable in the afternoon.

We decided to catch some of the more unique and patriotic outfits at the fest

One of the bands that played early in the day was the 41st National Guard Army Band They rocked.

Toward the late afternoon, we took a walk toward St. Stanislaus College and chilled out on the bench, watching the Bay and the crowds.

Seeing the beach being restored six years after the storm is very heartwarming .

All in all it was a relaxing and enjoyable trip. One that assures us that we will

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I went to this festival for the first time in 2005 and again in 2006. I haven't been back since. Thanks for the pictures. I might just have to take a drive out again this summer.