The dry-goods emporiums and specialty shops of St. Francisville in the early days carried everything from farm implements and buggies to ladies’ fine millinery and gents’ furnishings, everything from cradles to coffins. They still do today, and the merchants of historic downtown St. Francisville take pleasure and pride in hosting a Christmas celebration that still draws celebrants of the season to a safe, family-oriented weekend of fun and festivities and fabulous shopping called Christmas in the Country, always the first full weekend of December, this year December 6, 7 and 8. There may not be any coffins for sale, but Santa still arrives in a horse-drawn vehicle.
|White Cottage & Market Hall|
Saturday, Dec. 7, 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; $6 tickets may be purchased online at www.womensserviceleague.com ). The Women’s Service League also sells fresh wreaths and pre-wrapped Plantation Country Cookbooks all weekend on Ferdinand St. next to the library, with proceeds benefiting local civic and charitable activities.
From 10 to 4 Saturday there will be children’s activities plus the Main Street Band (noon to 2), handmade crafts and food vendors in oak-shaded Parker Park. There will also be entertainment in various locations throughout the downtown historic district, featuring choirs, dancers, musicians, and other performers.
|Children meet Santa
From 6 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, the United Methodist Church on Royal St. hosts a Community Sing-a-long, while the First Baptist Church (US 61 at LA 10) sponsors its very popular Live Nativity from 6 to 8 p.m., reminding of the reason for the season. Also from 6 to 8 p.m., visitors can “Peep into our Holiday Homes,” peeking through handblown windowpanes and lace curtains into participating homes all decorated for the holidays in St. Francisville’s downtown National Register Historic District.
Christmas in the Country activities continue on Sunday, December 8, with in-town activities and an afternoon Friends of the Library Tour of Homes from noon to 5 p.m. ($20 fee benefits the new parish library and advance tickets are available online at wftourofhomes.bpt.me or from the West Feliciana Parish Library; on the day of the tour, tickets may be purchased at The Bluffs clubhouse or participating homes). Four diverse homes are featured, two on LA 965 and two on Ferdinand St.; at The Bluffs, a jazz brunch (extra fee) precedes the tour and boutique shopping with refreshments follows.
From 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. Francisville Art & Antiques and Bohemianville Antiques feature vintage collectibles and furnishings. Femme Fatale specializes in fine fashions; Trends Boutique and Ma Milles Gifts also have stylish clothing, game-day gear and jewelry.
|Singing along Main Street|
On the outskirts of town, intrepid shoppers won't want to miss the exquisite custom-designed creations at Patrick’s Fine Jewelry and 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 and B&Bs in the area offer gift certificates to extend the giving throughout the year.
Located on US Highway 61 on the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge, LA, and
|Christmas Parade Trolley|
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).