Thursday, January 22, 2015

Andrew Jackson Slept Here: Romantic GetAways

Andrew Jackson Slept Here: Romantic GetAways in St. Francisville, LA
By Anne Butler


Cottage PlantationAs the rest of Louisiana and the country celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans, that iconic mismatch of 11,000 veteran redcoats against an outnumbered ragtag band of pirates, militiamen, Kaintuck sharpshooters, Creole aristocrats and a troop of Feliciana Horse, St. Francisville remembers its own connections to this pivotal fight. Because after the 1815 battle that would save New Orleans from the British and give Americans a sense of national identity for the first time, after demonstrating the brilliant leadership that led to his election as the seventh president of the United States, General Andrew Jackson spent the night at The Cottage Plantation in St. Francisville. And you can, too.

The Cottage was the home of Judge Thomas Butler, and on Jackson’s staff were a number of Judge Butler’s relatives, two brothers who were married to nieces of the general’s wife Rachel and a sister married to her nephew Stokely Hay(e)s. The Jackson entourage, returning to Tennessee after the Battle of New Orleans, supposedly was large enough to tax the facilities at The Cottage to the extent that the host had to sleep in the pantry, if stories can be believed.

shade treeToday this early plantation hosts Bed & Breakfast guests in six antique-filled rooms in the main house and one individual pond-side cottage. A full breakfast is served in the formal dining room of a house little changed since General Jackson’s visit. This is only one of St. Francisville’s overnight accommodations that are so charmingly varied in style that at least one will be perfect for that romantic getaway for Valentine’s weekend or that quiet escape from Mardi Gras madness.

Several other area plantation Bed & Breakfasts offer similar stays steeped in historic ambience and redolent with romance. The Myrtles, dating from the late 1790s, has eleven rooms in the main house, plus five cottages, an on-site restaurant and an aura of mystery promising unforgettable out-of-this-world experiences for the daring. Greenwood Plantation has a dozen rooms in a structure across the reflecting pond from the grand Greek Revival house painstakingly replicated after the original burned in 1960. Historic Butler Greenwood Plantation offers accommodations in eight well-equipped private cottages on plantation grounds; the main house has been occupied by members of the original family since the 1790s.

St. Francisville itself boasts so many structures of architectural significance that the entire downtown area is listed on the National Register as a Historic District. Included in the district are several fine townhouses that provide overnight accommodations. The St. Francisville Inn, next to oak-shaded Parker Park and dripping with Victorian trim, has ten rooms, a European style courtyard, and popular breakfast buffet. Barrow House and Printer’s Cottage, among the oldest structures in town, face each other across picturesque Royal Street and offer seven rooms/suites filled with fine antiques. Shadetree, also on Royal, has an eclectic collection of suites on a hilltop overlooking the Mississippi River, and the fun little 3-V Tourist Courts, featured in the television docudrama about Bonnie and Clyde, are reminiscent of the thirties’ automobile age when overnight accommodations came with an attached garage.

HemingboughMore contemporary accommodations offering romantic getaways in the St. Francisville area include The Lodge at The Bluffs, 32 room/suites with access to spectacular golf course and other fitness facilities, plus restaurants and chapel. Lake Rosemound Inn has four rooms on the banks of a beautiful large lake, and Hemingbough has 8 rooms and several suites on the landscaped grounds of a large conference center/events venue with lovely lakeside amphitheater. Besides several RV parks, the St. Francisville area also has two full-service motels, the Best Western and the Magnuson, capable of accommodating large bus groups as well as individual travelers; Lamplighter Suites is suitable for longterm rentals as well as overnights.

Winter is a wonderful time to visit St. Francisville. The woodlands invite hikers and birders to enjoy scenic vistas no longer obscured by prolific summertime foliage, and bicyclists enjoy the respite from the oppressive summer heat. Nineteenth-century gardens are filled with colorful camellia blooms, and nice restaurants and shops (several of them newly opened) attract patrons to St. Francisville’s historic downtown. Bed & Breakfasts book up a bit ahead for special holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras, so be sure to make reservations.

February is Black History Month at Rosedown State Historic Site, with special focus exhibits and demonstrations of Afro-Caribbean culinary influences.

Lake Rosemound InnFebruary is also enlivened by A Celebration of Literature and Art’s Writers and Readers Symposium at Hemingbough on February 21, allowing area readers the rare opportunity to interact in person with published authors; this year’s event features mystery writer Abigail Padgett, New Orleans novelist Moira Crone, Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Haymon, and gifted photographer Richard Sexton (www.brownpapertickets.com ).

Located on US Highway 61 on the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, LA, and
Natchez, MS, the St. Francisville area is a year-round tourist destination. A number of splendidly restored plantation homes are open for tours: the Cottage Plantation, Myrtles Plantation, Greenwood Plantation, plus Catalpa Plantation by reservation; Afton Villa Gardens and Imahara’s Botanical Garden are open in season. Particularly important to tourism in the area are its two significant state historic sites, Rosedown Plantation and Oakley Plantation in the Audubon state site, which offer periodic living-history demonstrations to allow visitors to experience 19th-century plantation life and customs (state budget constraints have unfortunately shuttered Oakley Sunday and Monday).

The nearby Tunica Hills region offers unmatched recreational activities in its unspoiled wilderness areas—hiking, biking, birding, photography, hunting. There are unique art galleries plus specialty and antiques shops, many in restored historic structures, and some nice restaurants throughout the St. Francisville area serving everything from ethnic cuisine to seafood and classic Louisiana favorites. For overnight stays, the area offers some of the state’s most popular Bed & Breakfasts, including historic plantations, lakeside clubhouses and beautiful townhouses right in the middle of St. Francisville’s extensive National Register-listed historic district, and there are also modern motel accommodations for large bus groups.
For visitor information, call St. Francisville Main Street at 225-635-3873 or West Feliciana Tourist Commission at 225-6330 or 225-635-4224; online visit www.stfrancisvillefestivals.com, www.stfrancisville.net or www.stfrancisville.us (the events calendar gives dates and information on special activities).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Writers and Readers Symposium

Writers and Readers Symposium Coming Soon to St. Francisville, LA
By Anne Butler


West Feliciana Parish Library
As 2015 dawns, St. Francisville steps into the future with a number of improvements, from the grand new library and prospects of a commodious new hospital to several much anticipated new restaurants and shops. But location scouts have long appreciated the little town’s ability to step BACK in time, the many preserved historic structures making it possible to throw some dirt on the streets and…voila!...it’s the 19th century.

Residents deal daily with this dichotomy, the delicate balance of preservation and progress, recognizing that the present and hopes for a financially stable future are of necessity firmly grounded in the past, built upon history. Town founders had forethought and high hopes, laying out side streets with optimistic names like Prosperity and Progress. As that old Greek proverb proclaimed, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
padgett
But how to connect past and present, especially in a meaningful and sensible way? Participants at A Celebration of Literature and Art’s Writers and Readers Symposium on Saturday, February 21, at Hemingbough Convention Center in St. Francisville will get a variety of unique views on the interconnections between past and present as four celebrated authors—mystery writer Abigail Padgett, poet Ava Leavell Haymon, New Orleans novelist and short story writer Moira Crone, photographer Richard Sexton, all with new books-- share their creative processes both individually and in moderated panel discussions with audience participation encouraged.

Abigail Padgett’s latest book is An Unremembered Grave. A resident of San Diego who has visited St. Francisville over many years, Padgett was struck by a 1990s photograph showing excavations through the striated strata of Angola’s Tunica Hills. At the lowest level of a dirt pit cut deep into the loess soil, LSU paleontologists were shown examining mammoth bones, while at the very top ground-level layer, archaeologists and prison staff in the same photograph examined newly uncovered skeletal remains of an unidentified 19th-century burial.

Considering these layered connections, a single photograph linking time periods from prehistoric creatures through Native Americans and antebellum plantations to the present correctional facility, award-winning mystery writer Padgett has woven an imaginative web of intrigue involving a prescient history professor, a spooky Louisiana plantation, an innocent prisoner, an ancient slave-made quilt. And, oh yes, a charming vampire with a plausible explanation for these entwined moments of time, whose slumber under the oppressive weight of history was interrupted atop that loessial bluff on Angola, the vampire whose blood-thirst was essential to pass along the eternal stories, the immutable history of the race and the currents of collective memory coursing through the veins of living creatures.
creole world
Gifted writer-photographer Richard Sexton’s most recent book, Creole World: Photographs of New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean Sphere, explores and illustrates with dreamy images the Creole connections between New Orleans and the Latin Caribbean. It’s all in the eye, really---well, maybe the mind too, and the heart and soul. That’s how Sexton, with his strong architecture and art background, spots the elegance amidst the decadence and celebrates the colorful remnants of Creole culture even in the most desolate Caribbean slum or New Orleans housing project. Compelling images reflect the author’s four decades roaming across the Latin Caribbean capturing architectural and urban similarities connecting New Orleans’ Creole heritage with colonial cultures in Haiti, Colombia, Panama, Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador and other historic locales.

Sexton says his Creole book “isn’t about home decorating---or pretty architecture, or even about city planning, although I think it addresses those interests. It’s my attempt to sum up an outlook---and a culture---that feels Creole to me. I’m drawn to places that accept accidents and decay, that put the past to fresh uses, that proceed by trial and error and keep things that work even if they don’t fit the rules.” As Sexton, who has lived in New Orleans since 1991, explains in an interview with Chris Waddington of nola.com, “I don’t just celebrate the past. I’m looking to see how the past can help us get to the future.”
author
Prestigious LSU Press has published four collections of Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Haymon’s poetry, and she is editor of the press’ Barataria Poetry Series. A Mississippi native who grew up in Kansas City with a Baptist preacher father who made her memorize ten verses of Scripture each week and recite them perfectly before the television set could be turned on, she attended Baylor University and then moved to Baton Rouge so her husband could go to LSU Law School and she could get a master’s degree in English.

She found Louisiana a poet’s dream, “a wonderful place to write poetry about. It has exotic weather, all sorts of ethnic groups and fabulous music. It’s sensory.” And yet, she finds inspiration in family dynamics across the generations as well. Her most recent book is titled Eldest Daughter, in which LSU Press says the poet combines the sensory and the spiritual in wild verbal fireworks. “Concrete descriptions of a woman’s life in the mid-20th-century American South mix with wider concerns about family lies and truths, and culture that supports or forbids clear speech. Haymon’s poems encourage us to revel in the natural world and enjoy its delights, as well as to confront the hard truths that would keep us from doing so.”

Also inspired by family dynamics in the South is Moira Crone, respected New Orleans novelist and short story writer. Called one of the best American writers, Crone attended University of North Carolina and Smith College, then studied writing at Johns Hopkins. After moving to Louisiana, she directed the MFA Program in Creative Writing at LSU in Baton Rouge before relocating to New Orleans with her husband, writer Rodger Kamenetz.

When she received the Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers for the body of her work, it was said that her interest in things spiritual “has led her work to be wittily described as ‘Southern Gnostic.’ In books like What Gets Into Us, Period of Confinement, and Dream State, Crone charts a zone of family resemblance and family claustrophobia. Her work can be hilarious in dealing with contemporary moral relativism. She is a fable maker with a musical ear, a plentitude of nerve, and an epic heart for her beleaguered, if often witty characters.”
ice garden
Moira Crone’s newest book, published in late fall 2014, is The Ice Garden, called “a story as dazzling and dangerous as ice, a heart stopper. This may just be the most haunting and memorable novel you will ever read.” The book’s narrator is ten years old, daughter of a mother trapped in the suffocating southern culture of the sixties, and only she can save her family. Of all Crone’s prize-winning novels and short stories, reviewers call The Ice Garden her finest book yet.

Tickets to the Writers and Readers Symposium, including lunch with these authors and a juried exhibit of photographs linked to literature, may be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com ( OLLI members can sign up through LSU); January tickets are $40, February $50, at the door $60. Seating is limited. Thanks to the Town of St. Francisville, this program is supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and as administered by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. Funding has also been provided by Entergy and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Adjuncts to the program include Ava Hayman teaching a poetry workshop for Bains Elementary School students, and Abigail Padgett, who has taught creative writing at Harvard and other institutions, working with promising upper class students. In addition, Hayman and Padgett will conduct a Writers’ Workshop for aspiring and professional adult authors Saturday, February 28, in a stimulating plantation setting.

Located on US Highway 61 on the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, LA, and
Natchez, MS, the St. Francisville area is a year-round tourist destination. A number of splendidly restored plantation homes are open for tours: the Cottage Plantation, Myrtles Plantation, Greenwood Plantation, plus Catalpa Plantation by reservation; Afton Villa Gardens and Imahara’s Botanical Garden are open in season. Particularly important to tourism in the area are its two significant state historic sites, Rosedown Plantation and Oakley Plantation in the Audubon state site, which offer periodic living-history demonstrations to allow visitors to experience 19th-century plantation life and customs (state budget constraints have unfortunately shuttered Oakley Sunday and Monday).

The nearby Tunica Hills region offers unmatched recreational activities in its unspoiled wilderness areas—hiking, biking, birding, photography, hunting. There are unique art galleries plus specialty and antiques shops, many in restored historic structures, and some nice restaurants throughout the St. Francisville area serving everything from ethnic cuisine to seafood and classic Louisiana favorites. For overnight stays, the area offers some of the state’s most popular Bed & Breakfasts, including historic plantations, lakeside clubhouses and beautiful townhouses right in the middle of St. Francisville’s extensive National Register-listed historic district, and there are also modern motel accommodations for large bus groups.
For visitor information, call St. Francisville Main Street at 225-635-3873 or West Feliciana Tourist Commission at 225-6330 or 225-635-4224; online visit www.stfrancisvillefestivals.com, www.stfrancisville.net or www.stfrancisville.us (the events calendar gives dates and information on special activities).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Heralds the Holiday Season

St. Francisville’s Christmas in the Country Heralds the Holiday Season
By Anne Butler

Santa brought St. Francisville, LA, an early Christmas gift with its inclusion on a prestigious popularity list for regional travelers, and the little rivertown will proudly show off its assets as it welcomes visitors to Christmas in the Country December 5, 6 and 7th.
fodor'sFodor’s, world’s largest publisher of travel information in English both in print and online, named St. Francisville to its list of Top Twenty Day-trip Destinations, recommending it as a sidetrip from New Orleans because of its cluster of plantation tours, walkable historic district of National Register 18th and early 19th-century structures, good shopping and historic churches. With its variety of fine Bed & Breakfasts, Fodor’s noted that the town was just as popular for overnight stays, and its Anglo background provided memorable contrast with its French/Creole/Cajun Louisiana neighbors.
So this year’s Christmas in the Country, the little town’s annual celebration of the season, pulls out all the stops, supplementing the ever-popular parade, spectacular seasonal decorations, live nativities and superlative shopping, with everything from cherubic children’s choirs and a grand symphonic brass concert to a gaggle of Elvis impersonators.

local shopsLong the center of commerce for the surrounding plantation country, wide-eyed 19th-century children pressed cold noses against frosted storefront windows and dreamed of china dolls or wooden rocking horses. The dry-goods emporiums in the early days carried everything from farm implements and buggies to ladies’ fashions and gents’ furnishings, and today the little boutique shops in many of these same historic buildings lining the commercial district continue to offer a surprising selection of fine wares.

St. Francisville never looks lovelier than when wearing its holiday finery, tiny white lights decking every Victorian flourish and gallery post to turn the entire town into a veritable winter wonderland. Today’s merchants take pleasure and pride in hosting a Christmas celebration that draws celebrants of the season to a safe, family-oriented weekend of fun festivities and fabulous downtown shopping called Christmas in the Country, always the first full weekend of December, this year December 5, 6, 7.

Fireworks - Tree lighting
St. Nick arrives to kick off the Lighting Ceremony of the Town Christmas Tree beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, followed by a public reception at Town Hall hosted by jovial longtime St. Francisville Mayor Billy D'Aquilla and featuring fireworks and a performance by the First Baptist Church Children’s Choir. At 7 p.m., the Baton Rouge Symphony presents its annual Christmas Brass concert and dessert reception at Hemingbough.

Saturday, Dec. 6, begins with a 7:30 a.m. Community Prayer Breakfast at United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall just off Royal St., followed by Breakfast with St. Nick for children at Jackson Hall next to Grace Church at 8 and 9:30 a.m., sponsored by the Women’s Service League (reservations recommended; $8 tickets may be purchased online at www.womensserviceleague.com ). The Women’s Service League also sells fresh wreaths all weekend on Ferdinand St., with proceeds benefiting local civic and charitable activities.

Booths at Parker ParkFrom 10 to 4 Saturday and Sunday there will be music, crafts and food vendors in oak-shaded Parker Park, and from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. the Talented Art Walk features displays of student artwork at local shops, with purchase proceeds supporting the arts programs in local schools. There will also be entertainment in various locations throughout the downtown historic district, featuring choirs, dancers, musicians, and other performers, as well as children’s activities. At 2 p.m. Saturday a book signing at the West Feliciana Historical Society museum-headquarters will introduce for the very first time a long-awaited book of some 250 vintage images of the St. Francisville area.

Singing along main street


The angelic voices of the Bains Elementary 2nd Grade Choir are raised at the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum on Ferdinand St. at 10 a.m., while the West Feliciana High School Performance Choir sings at the United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, followed from 11 to 11:45 by the school’s Advanced and Performance Choirs. The front porch of Town Hall is gospel headquarters, while the Angola Inmate Traveling Band from Louisiana State Penitentiary performs across from Garden Symposium Park from noon to 4.

An afternoon Friends of the Library Tour of Homes from noon to 5 p.m. benefits the wonderful new parish library and features four diverse homes, jazz brunch at The Bluffs and boutique shopping. From 6 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, the United Methodist Church on Royal St. hosts a Community Sing-a-long, and from 6 to 8 p.m., St. Francisville First Baptist Church sponsors its very popular Live Nativity, reminding of the reason for the season. Also from 6 to 8 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, visitors can “Peep into our Holiday Homes,” peering through handblown windowpanes and lace curtains into participating homes all decorated for the holidays in St. Francisville’s downtown National Register Historic District.

White lightsIn addition, Saturday evening from 5:30 to 8:30, visitors are welcomed for candlelight tours, period music, dancing and hot wassail at Oakley Plantation, Audubon State Historic Site on LA Hwy. 965, where artist-naturalist John James Audubon tutored the daughter of plantation owners and painted many of his famous bird studies in the early 1820s. During the day from 10 to 4, the historic site is decked out in seasonal finery as it observes its annual Christmas holiday festival, this year adding a 150th-anniversary re-enactment of the nearby Battle of Alexander’s Creek in 1864 for “A Civil War Christmas” on December 6 and 7. West Feliciana’s other state historic site, Rosedown Plantation, celebrates the season with appropriate 19th-century decorations as well, and the exterior galleries and antique-filled interior rooms are resplendent with garlands of fresh greenery from the surrounding woodlands, colorful berries and fresh fruit, as was the custom.

Parade angola horse wagonSaturday’s highlight has traditionally been the colorful 2 p.m. Christmas parade sponsored by the Women’s Service League, but this year’s parade has had to be moved to Sunday afternoon due to election run-offs (some polling places would have been blocked). Participants include everyone from local dignitaries to Angola’s enormous Percheron work horses, their sleigh bells jingling and their burnished coats gleaming. Dozens of gaily decorated parade floats vie for coveted prizes, accompanied by cheerleaders, bands, bagpipes, vintage cars, marching ROTC units and dancers. The parade, with this year’s theme of “Be There With Bells On,” lines up on Royal St. and traverses Ferdinand and Commerce Streets, so don’t plan on driving through downtown St. Francisville mid-afternoon.

Parade floatAnd the fun continues on Sunday night for those who might have a blue-blue-blue Christmas without Elvis. “An Ultimate Christmas with Greatest Elvis Tributes” features Elvis impersonators Cody Ray Slaughter, Jay Dupuis, the EAS Band and special guest Jeff Lewis at Hemingbough beginning at 6 p.m.; for tickets go to Grandmother’s Buttons or online www.hrhpromotions.com, $30 in advance, $35 at the door.

The enthusiastic sponsors of Christmas in the Country are the downtown merchants, and the real focus of the weekend remains St. Francisville’s marvelous shops, which go all out, hosting Open Houses with refreshments and entertainment for shoppers while offering spectacular seasonal decorations, great gift items, and extended hours. A variety of quaint little shops occupy historic structures throughout the downtown area and spread into the outlying district, each unique in its own way; visitors should not miss a single one.

Shanty Too GiftsFrom the rich Victoriana of The Shanty Too, for thirty years the anchor of the downtown business community complete with old-time candy shoppe, to the jewelry beautifully crafted from vintage buttons at nationally known Grandmother's Buttons, and the incredibly extensive selections of carefully chosen gift and decorative items at Hillcrest Gardens and Sage Hill Gifts, downtown St. Francisville is filled with fine shopping opportunities. Artists Herschel Harrington and Joe Savell (Backwoods Gallery) have studios displaying their own works, while St. Francis Art & Antiques Gallery and Bohemianville Antiques feature vintage collectibles and furnishings. Femme Fatale specializes in fine fashions; Trends Salon & Boutique and Ma Milles Gifts also have stylish clothing, game-day gear and jewelry. Temple Design has signature gift items with a local flair, and Benchmark Interiors has delightful selections to complement any decor.

St. Francisville Inn’s Wine Parlor has gift bottles of fine wines, and Birdman Books & Coffee has an eclectic selection of books. Ins-N-Outs carries live seasonal plants to complement any decorating scheme; Mia Sophia Florist features floral arrangements, wreaths and plants as well as decorative items. The tourist information center/museum in the West Feliciana Historical Society headquarters on Ferdinand St. has a great selection of books, notecards and prints, plus free maps showing locations of all of the other retail outlets, local plantations, restaurants and accommodations.

Dancing and SantasOn the outskirts of town, intrepid shoppers won't want to miss the exquisite custom-designed creations at Patrick’s Fine Jewelry in its exciting new location on US 61, the fleur-de-lis decorative pieces in the expanded Elliott’s Pharmacy in Spring Creek Shopping Center, as well as Border Imports with huge selections of Mexican pottery, eyecatching ironwork and concrete statuary on US 61 north. Most of the plantations around St. Francisville have gift shops, and a visit to those would permit enjoyment of spectacular seasonal decorations as well. Restaurants, B&Bs, even fitness centers in the area offer gift certificates to extend the giving throughout the year, providing Christmas in the Country visitors an extended opportunity to relish the charms of this little Top Twenty Day-Trip Destination.

Located on US Highway 61 on the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, LA, and
Natchez, MS, the St. Francisville area is a year-round tourist destination. A number of splendidly restored plantation homes are open for tours daily: the Cottage Plantation, Myrtles Plantation, Greenwood Plantation, plus Catalpa Plantation by reservation; Afton Villa Gardens and Imahara’s Botanical Garden are open in season. Particularly important to tourism in the area are its two significant state historic sites, Rosedown Plantation and Oakley Plantation in the Audubon state site, which offer periodic living-history demonstrations to allow visitors to experience 19th-century plantation life and customs (state budget constraints have unfortunately shuttered Oakley Sunday and Monday).

Mainstreet during Christmas in the CountryThe nearby Tunica Hills region offers unmatched recreational activities in its unspoiled wilderness areas—hiking, biking, birding, photography, hunting. There are unique art galleries plus specialty and antiques shops, many in restored historic structures, and some nice restaurants throughout the St. Francisville area serving everything from ethnic cuisine to seafood and classic Louisiana favorites. For overnight stays, the area offers some of the state’s most popular Bed & Breakfasts, including historic plantations, lakeside clubhouses and beautiful townhouses right in the middle of St. Francisville’s extensive National Register-listed historic district, and there are also modern motel accommodations for large bus groups.

For visitor information, call St. Francisville Main Street at 225-635-3873 or West Feliciana Tourist Commission at 225-6330 or 225-635-4224; online visit www.stfrancisvillefestivals.com, www.stfrancisville.net or www.stfrancisville.us (the events calendar gives dates and information on special activities).