Techeland Arts Council opened the weekend with the premiere of “No Hitchin’” and its inaugural performance, “What A Ride!” Shows were also held Saturday and Sunday.
St. Mary Landmarks presented its second “Sweet Remembrances” cemetery tour on Saturday and rebooted Tour of Homes on Sunday.
In all, it made for a grand weekend for locals and visitors alike.
This year’s cemetery tour featured over 25 graves including the 1926 carnival monarchs, Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting pal, Crawford Rose, participants of the Dreher-LeBouef murder trial and execution resulting in the first woman executed in Louisiana and the documented owners of Last Island, the Voisin Family. Grevemberg House Museum was in mourning. Three historic churches were including Asbury United Methodist Church, the first African-American church in St. Mary Parish, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and the Church of the Assumption. The historic Masonic Lodge and the historic United States Post Office building, recently purchased and restored by investors, were also open to the public. Both buildings feature interior restorations.
Structures open to the public on the Tour of Homes included Bocage-on-the-Teche, Oaklawn Manor, Shadowlawn, Gates House, Trowbridge House, Grevemberg House and Allain House. Each home has a unique story to tell spanning over 150 years. Visits from a president of the United States, homes of five governors of Louisiana, famous folk heroes and occupation during the War Between the States are a part of their storied past.
“Two people told me that when they entered they thought it would be about 20 minutes,” said Pam Heffner, who headed up the cemetery tour again this year. “They parked their vehicles, and they stayed for two hours.”
Heffner said the tour was a complete success, and the proof in the pudding was the comments she received.
“I met a girl on a bicycle who had just moved to Franklin from Ascension Parish,” she said. “She was heavy into historic things in that area. She said (the tour) reaffirms it was the right move for her to make. When she saw what we were doing that weekend, she knew she made the right decision moving here. She said this is one of the best kept secrets, this town.”
Landmarks’ president Daniels said the weekend was “wonderful.”
“I was so excited with Techeland Arts Council having full houses,” Daniels said. “We did really well, and everybody I heard that came through had nothing but glorious comments to make about this town.”
Daniels said visitors “loved the stories, the cemetery tour. They couldn’t get over how relatives of the deceased were playing them. It was so positive, we had so much fun, and I hope everybody did.”
With fair weather and a full slate of events, Daniel says she hopes “this brings everybody together again in St. Mary Parish. I think it really touched the whole parish. If we just keep doing things like this we can make it work. I’m just really excited about it.”
Techeland Arts Council began its work in 2007 and its board has met monthly ever since.
“After four long years, Techeland Arts Council finally ‘birthed its baby’ called No Hitchin’,” said TAC Chairman Judith Allain. “What an absolute surprise and delight to have a full house for every performance and even a full balcony for the Sunday evening performance! It was certainly beyond my expectations for our fledgling arts organization as we were just in our infancy.”
Allain said the board and volunteers have “worked very hard to get the name of No Hitchin’ known, and the title of the premiere performance ‘What a Ride!’ certainly turned out to be so appropriate, because the ride has sometimes been a very bumpy one. However, the determination of a very talented and committed board brought us to this very successful presentation. But more importantly, we fulfilled our goal of crossing all ethnic, educational, and socio-economic lines with the cast and the stories presented.”
Carrie Stansbury, executive director of the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau, said, “The weekend was wonderful. The cemetery and the tour of homes had over 100 people that toured and the Techeland Arts Council. Over 58 (complete event) packages were sold. Over 53 individual tickets were sold for the Tour of Homes, while Techeland Arts Council and the Cemetery Tour sold 15 and 9, respectively.”