Discovering Culture and Community at the Heritage & Harvest Tour
Nestled in Louisiana’s picturesque countryside lies an unassuming gem, the Heritage and Harvest Tour, held annually in the fall. This event invites both locals and visitors to embark on a journey through time, exploring the rich history and vibrant culture of the region. From historic homes and farms to charming churches, this tour promises a day filled with discovery and delight.
A Scenic Beginning
The Heritage and Harvest Tour kicks off on Highway 3049, just north of Shreveport. Travelers can easily follow the tour route by keeping an eye out for the distinctive heritage tour signs. The communities along this route include Dixie, Belcher, Gilliam, Hosston, Mira and Ida. This historic tour is part of the Boom or Bust Byway, a road trip aficionado’s dream come true, spanning 136 miles across four parishes in North Louisiana – Caddo, Bossier, Webster and Claiborne.
Honoring the Legacy of Helen Adger and Karen Logan
A highlight of this year’s tour was the dedication of a community mural. The mural, lovingly crafted by local artist Diane Long, graces the wall of the Shreve Memorial Library in Gilliam. This mural serves as a tribute to the memory of former Gilliam mayor, Helen Adger, and devoted community member, Karen Logan. These two women were the driving force behind the inception of the Boom or Bust Byway project in Northwest Louisiana, leaving an enduring legacy. The festival showcased historical artifacts and stories, paying homage to the efforts of these two women.
A Glimpse into Local Treasures
One of the festival favorites was Shreve Memorial Library, which has a rich history that dates back to 1931 when it was established with the support of the local Parent-Teacher Association. Nestled within the Library is the Red River Crossroads Historical and Cultural Museum. This museum offers a look into the history of Caddo Parish. Begin your educational odyssey with a glimpse into the Native American heritage that lends its name to the parish. Journey through the French Territorial days, the Louisiana Purchase, the Red River Raft and the discovery of oil. Immerse yourself in history and maps, trace steamboat routes and follow the train tracks and traverse the historic LA Highway 3049.
Meet Geraldine Zelinsky: A Local Artisan with a Story to Tell
During the festival, Geraldine Zelinsky, the visionary behind NWLA Basket Makers, was a featured artist, showcasing her remarkable talents in the library. Geraldine’s inspiration flows from the traditions of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, a culture she respects and honors as she pursues her craft. She went over a brief lesson of intricate basket-making techniques, allowing attendees to witness the artistry behind her creations. Her commitment to this craft garnered her recognition as a spotlighted artist on the National Basketry Organization’s social pages, an accolade that speaks volumes about her exceptional skills.
Gilliam’s Sunflower Festival: A Blooming Delight
As an additional treat, Gilliam is also a host of the Sunflower Trail & Festival, a yearly mid-June celebration that bathes the landscape in golden hues. Imagine strolling through the sun-kissed fields, carefully selecting the perfect blooms to take home as a vibrant souvenir. These blooms symbolize the beauty of nature but also the resilience and unity of the people who call this charming town home. Local vendors set up shop, offering an array of sunflower-themed merchandise, handmade crafts and delectable treats. From sunflower-inspired jewelry to sunflower-shaped cookies, there’s no shortage of ways to bring a piece of the festival home with you. For more information, visit the Sunflower Trail & Festival website.
The Heritage and Harvest Tour is more than just a scenic drive through Louisiana’s countryside; it’s an opportunity to connect with the past and forge new connections within the community. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a cultural explorer, or simply someone seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure, this tour has something for everyone. This tour is an open invitation to discover the hidden treasures of Northwest Louisiana, leaving a mark of community, artistry and the enduring legacy of those who have shaped this region.