Thursday, April 20, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

Traveling, Pilgrimage

I explored some unfamiliar territory last week.

Pam and I were guests of the Louisiana Press Association for its annual convention in Lafayette, La. I’d never traveled to that part of Louisiana before, having only been to New Orleans several times.

We left Jackson about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, after a Mississippi Press Association board of directors meeting, and trekked down I-55 South, then hit more interstates, 12 and 10.

We arrived in Lafayette after dark, and even though we had some directions off MapQuest, we managed to get a bit turned around.

We had the telephone number for the hotel, and the employee was kind and helped us find our destination.

Later that night, we found an excellent seafood establishment (again thanks to the help of the young man behind the counter) near the hotel. One thing about Louisiana, the seafood is superb, and this shrimp platter at Guidry’s Reef was some of the best I’ve had anywhere.

The next day we did some browsing around the city at different shops with Harry and Carolyn Wilson. Carolyn is executive director of MPA. Pam and I bought a rusty elephant-shaped plant holder for a bargain.

That night we had some Cajun food while enjoying the Birthday Bash at Vermilionville. The Louisiana Press Association was celebrating its 125th anniversary. We were also entertained by Cajun music legend Richard LeBouef and Two Step Band, one of the most popular bands in Southwest Louisiana.

Later that night Pam and I traveled downtown with some new friends, Jeff and Mary Kay Zeringue, of the Daily Comet in Thibodaux, La. We heard a fabulous blues musician from New Orleans and got more acquainted. Jeff is executive editor of the Daily Comet. It’s funny how sometimes when you attend such a conference with strangers, you meet people with similar interests and have a wonderful time. Such was the case with the Zeringues.

Of course we swapped e-mail addresses and look forward to staying in touch.

The conference ended on Saturday afternoon, but Pam and I departed early that morning, anxious to get back to Holly Springs for a bit of Pilgrimage and our son Andy’s first baseball game of the season.

We did exit briefly in Baton Rouge, to see the Louisiana State University campus.

Driving back into our city late Saturday afternoon, it was simply beautiful — fresh cut grass and beautiful flowers in bloom. And the success of the Pilgrimage was immediately obvious, as cars lined many streets and several out-of-town guests were walking to view the historic homes and other attractions. Most had cameras, photographing the sites.

The same was the case Sunday afternoon. I traveled along Chulahoma Avenue back and forth from my house several times, and vehicles were always parked on both sides near Walter Place. We could not have asked for any better weather.

Compliments and thanks go to the Holly Springs Garden Club, homeowners and everyone who volunteered their valuable time to make the 67th annual Pilgrimage such a tremendous success.

Thanks for rolling out the welcome mat to our visitors, and thanks to all the local folks, too, who supported the event with your attendance.

More annual celebrations and activities are coming up in Holly Springs this year. Mark them on your calendar and give them your support, too, if at all possible.

It’s all about promoting the city, its attractions and its people — and that’s something we all need to be a part of.

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