Bunnies, Brunch, and Market-Ritas: Spring Market 2017

The weather is warm, the sky is sunny, the champagne is poppin’, and the ladies are shoppin’.

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The Junior League of Monroe’s latest Spring Market is happening this weekend, and of course the shopping possibilities are endless. With clothing boutiques and various other goods coming from all over Louisiana and other states, this is your one-stop shop. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the Monroe Civic Center will be brimming with fresh spring apparel, but throughout the weekend, the Junior League hosts special events to make this sweet deal even sweeter.

  1. Shop ‘til You Drop!

This event is a fun, champagne brunch catered by The Coffee Bean in Monroe, with entertainment by Rod Allen Payne. Throughout this event, you can shop the market also. So grab your brunch buddies and make plans to be at the Civic Center on Friday, March 24, from 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.

  1. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

No statement is more true. Enjoy extended shopping hours at the Spring Market with door prizes and live entertainment by Mike McKenzie. Thurman’s Food Factory will cater, and you can also enjoy Market-Ritas throughout this event. This one takes place Friday, March 24 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

  1. Breakfast with Bunnies

Not sure if any other explanation is needed. On Saturday, March 25, from 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., breakfast will be served! You can also get live bunny portraits made, and there will be story time as well as other activities for children. At $20 per family, this is a great event for your whole crew!

  1. 2017 Spring Market Raffle

Throughout the weekend, enter for a chance to win a $10,000 Sleepy Hollow HGTV Home Makeover. This fundraiser supports the Junior League of Monroe and their various activities in the community. Purchase a $20 ticket, and you just might win a magnificent home renovation!

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Along with the incredible shopping experience and the fun events, all proceeds from this event go to the Junior League of Monroe. Their mission is to continue to better our community, so every penny you spend at the Spring Market goes right back into our beloved city.

And that is a pretty good reason to shop ‘til you drop.

 

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Pickleball: The Popular Sport You May Not Know About

No pickles are used in the playing of this game.

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The Louisiana State Games’ first 2017 event kicks off this weekend. Is it tennis? No. Is it ping-pong? Nope. Is it badminton? Wow, that’s specific, but no. Throw all three sports in a blender and you get…

Pickleball.

 

The sport was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Washington. Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum created the game for their kids who were getting bored with their typical summer activities. The name “pickleball” was either derived from Pritchard’s wife Joan, who called the game pickleball because the combination of sports made her think of the pickle boat, whose crew were oarsmen chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Or the name may have also come from the Pritchard’s dog Pickles who would chase the ball and run off with it. Other accounts claim that Pickles the dog was adopted a few years later, and was named after the game instead of the other way around.

 

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This game can be played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton-sized court and with a modified tennis net. Played as singles or doubles with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes, this is a paddle sport for all ages and skill levels.

A pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court, used for both singles and doubles. The court is striped similar to a tennis court, with the non-volley zone referred to as the “kitchen.” Courts are either constructed specifically for pickleball or existing tennis and badminton courts can be converted.

A pickleball paddle is smaller than a tennis racket but larger than a ping-pong paddle. Originally made of wood, today’s paddles are primarily made of lightweight composite materials. Each player must use a pickleball paddle. The ball has holes in it, similar to a whiffle ball, and different ones are used depending on indoor or outdoor play.

The Louisiana State Games Pickleball Tournament is March 8-9 at the ULM Activity Center. Go check out the popular game that can be played by all ages.

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You might just discover your new favorite sport.

And check out all of the other tournaments coming up this year for the 2017 Louisiana State Games. There might be something you’d want to compete in! Winners advance to the State Games of America held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

Instagram Contest: Tasty Tuesdays

How well do you know your local Monroe-West Monroe restaurants?

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Where, oh, where can you find these drool-worthy seafood nachos?

We love our local restaurants. If you haven’t had the chance to try all of them, we’re here to help. Our new contest will highlight some of our Monroe-West Monroe eats.

Here’s how it works:

Every Tuesday starting on Feb. 14, we will post an Instagram story at 11am with pictures of a particular local restaurant. There’ll be pictures of the food, the interior, and maybe some other notable aspects. Your job is easy—guess which restaurant it is! Comment your answer on our Tasty Tuesday post by 8am the next morning. The winner will be drawn from the correct answers. What do you win? A $10 gift card to that restaurant! Giving you the perfect reason to eat local.

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Only one place to get these delicious duck wraps. 

 

Here’s a helpful strategy to prepare you for this intense competition—try new local places! That way, you’ll know the ins and outs of all the restaurants. No post will be a mystery to you. You might just catch us in there one day!

Follow us on Instagram @discovermonroewestmonroe to see our weekly Tasty Tuesday post.

Good luck to all, and good eatin’!

 

Valentine’s Date Ideas in MWM

There’s only one thing better than a perfect Valentine’s Day, and that is a perfect Valentine’s Week. Whether you and your partner are making plans or you want to surprise that special someone, there are some great events happening this week for unique date opportunities. Because who doesn’t like to mix it up a bit? Go to one of them or go to all for a full week of V-Day romance. Here are 6 Valentine’s Day date ideas:

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  1. Cupids & Cocktails Valentine Gala

Surprise your Valentine the weekend before the holiday with tickets to this party in Downtown Monroe. Chef Pat Nolan is catering this event that takes place at Austin’s by the River on Saturday, Feb. 11. There will be live music, a dance floor, delicious dessert, and a champagne toast. This date will seem like it’s straight out of a movie, guaranteed.

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Photo courtesy of Biedenharn Museum
  1. Valentine’s Day Concert at Biedenharn Museum and Gardens

The gardens alone make for a romantic staycation, but this event combines that with live music. Kick Valentine’s Week off right, with this event taking place on Sunday, Feb. 12. It starts at 3 p.m., so you can enjoy the concert, take a stroll through the gardens, and then make it in plenty of time for your dinner reservation. (Suggestion: Roma’s Italian Bistro)

 

  1. Health with Hope Cooking Class

On Valentine’s Day, learn how to prepare a healthy, delicious meal with Hope Anderson. Start the evening with appetizers and a glass of wine, then you’ll prepare and enjoy a 5 course meal. The menu includes a pork tenderloin with caramelized garlic and orange salsa, a whole roasted spicy cauliflower with tahini, and two decadent desserts. You and your partner are welcome to bring your own bottle of wine to enjoy throughout the evening. (Suggestion: Landry Vineyards’ Bayoutage Red Blend)

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  1. Valentine’s Day Dinner with Chef Pat Nolan

Another unique dinner option for Valentine’s Day is an evening with Chef Pat Nolan. She prepares a delicious, 5-course meal. Enjoy a duck confit salad and veal chops cooked to perfection. Finish off the meal with a sinful chocolate pate with white chocolate. RSVP to this event by Feb. 10.

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Photo by Restaurant Sage

 

      5.  Local Restaurant Specials

Our local restaurants are always serving up delicious food. On Feb. 14, Restaurant Sage— home of Louisiana Seafood King, Chef Blake Phillips— is having a special menu, curated specifically for a romantic dinner. Trapp’s is also hosting a special event that evening. Reserve your table, and choose from a special menu that includes 5 courses. Is your favorite local restaurant planning a special menu or event for Valentine’s Day? Check their Facebook pages or websites for information.

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6.  The Wig and ‘Stache Bash

Waiting for the weekend to have your Valentine’s Day Date? Geneva Academy’s annual 1920’s themed fundraiser is a unique and fun date night. Dress in your 20’s best, and enjoy catering by Waterfront Grill. There will be live and silent auctions at this event, so you can buy gifts for your significant other here too! Dance the night away, and capture the evening with a picture from the Bash Booth photo booth that will be there.

 

 

Add a unique spin to your Valentine’s Day plans, with all of these date options. Choose one or go to several for a week-long celebration of you and your favorite person. Dress up, dance, and enjoy delicious food right here in Monroe-West Monroe.

New Park Will Bring Smiles to Monroe-West Monroe

Smiles Park is a playground that all kids can enjoy.

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A 3D Diagram of the new park.

West Monroe Civitan Club is bringing an inclusive playground for kids with and without disabilities to play together. This ¾ acre playground will be located inside Kiroli Park. This project was announced in 2013. An opening date has yet to be set, but it is likely to open within a few months.

The theme of the playground is a fair, inspired by the Civitan Club’s annual fundraiser the Ark-La-Miss Fair. This will include a pretend Ferris wheel, animals constructed of fiberglass and concrete, a 5-12 year old play area, a 2-5 year old play area, a 6-24 month old play area and a “ZipKrooz.” (If you’re wondering what a ZipKrooz is, click here. It’s awesome.)  All of the play equipment was manufactured by Landscape Structures Inc. out of Minnesota.

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A concept plan for the park.

 

Even though the opening date is still being determined, pieces of the park have already started to arrive. On Tuesday, January 3, equipment rolled in on 4 semi-trucks. The delivery included four life-like sensory animals— Betty the Elephant, Xavier the Seal, Zeus the Lion, and Gummie the Bear.

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Betty the Elephant poses with Matt West, Chairman of the Smiles Park Committee.

 

Designs for the playground were created by Shane’s Inspiration, an organization whose mission is to create inclusive playgrounds for children all over the world. In 2000, they opened their first park “Shane’s Inspiration Playground” in Los Angeles, California. Now, they have assisted in the creation of 63 inclusive playgrounds with another 75 being developed. “Our vision is to foster a bias-free world for children with disabilities. Our mission is to create inclusive playgrounds and programs to unite children of all abilities,” they say on their website.

The Civitan Smiles Park can bring that vision to West Monroe.

In a video shared to Facebook, Ella Ecker, a seven-year-old girl, reacts joyfully to the news that the park equipment was delivered. She is a child with spinal muscular atrophy, which causes her to be bound to a wheelchair. This park will allow her to play alongside her friends and family. The happiness seen on her face and in her tears makes you wish the park already existed. Be prepared to cry some tears of your own.

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For more information on this project or to learn how to get involved, visit the West Monroe Civitan’s Club website. Keep an eye out on their Facebook page, Civitan Smiles Park, for updates on progress and an official opening date.

 

The Prettiest Lights You’ll See

All of the locations that put the light in delightful.

holiday-lightsMonroe-West Monroe is an official partner with the state’s Holiday Trail of Lights, which basically means we have lights everywhere. From dancing elves, to lighted tunnels, to Christmas trees from every decade—we’ve got it in lights. If you’re a fan of the Christmas twinkle, here are the locations you can go to bask in the holiday glow.

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Adding a little Christmas spirit to your Christmas shopping.

1. Antique Alley- 100-400 blocks on Trenton Street, West Monroe

This location is a classic go-to spot for Christmas light lovers. For years, the already charming area on Trenton Street decks itself out. The stores each create festive window displays, and the whole street is covered in a canopy of lights. Last year’s updated design included lights draped over the street in a criss-cross fashion. The new look has added a unique sparkle to the alley’s already dazzling look.

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Winter wondering where all the Christmas lights are? They’re here.

2. Winter Wonderland of Lights- Corner of Commerce and Wood Streets, West Monroe

Located behind Antique Alley, this display features light tunnels and many other displays wrapped around a field. Take pictures with the enormous JOY letters, or shoot a video of you and a friend walking through the lighted tunnel. Christmas music plays around you while the lights twinkle along to the songs.

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has a very shiny nose and a very wide vocal range.

3. Downtown Monroe- Desiard Street/South Grand Street, Monroe

Santa’s hidden talent is on display here in the “Christmas Rocks” display at Palace Park. With the help of two of his friends, ol’ St. Nick puts on a show spreading Christmas cheer for all to hear. Walk throughout the downtown area to see lights dripping from the trees, and more lights hanging over the streets. You can also visit the Downtown RiverMarket who lights up for the occasion.

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4. Santa’s Christmas Village- 323 Walnut Street, Monroe

The Holiday Tree-Jays Chris and Christina narrate a delightful, animated light show in front of the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum. There are many activities to do here, including cookie decorating, ice skating, and visiting with Santa. The lights dance along to the music, and the Tree-Jays merrily chat in between.

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Where is Jacob now? We need to know if he saw the reindeer.

5. Throwback Christmas- 1 Olive Street, Monroe

The newest kid on the MWM Christmas display block is also the coolest. This display features memorabilia and music from decades past. Throwback Christmas is a great destination for Christmas lights lovers, and also a perfect photo opportunity for an epic #tbt Instagram post. Located near the Warehouse No.1 Restaurant, this walk-through display takes you through time. Starting from 1916, jumping to 1966, and then carrying on through each decade until 2016. You can reminisce on holidays past without being visited by that ghost from “A Christmas Carol.”

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Thank you to our veterans and soldiers. We hope that yours is a particularly merry Christmas.

6. Freedom Trees- 701 Kansas Lane, Monroe

Visit the Freedom Trees at the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum for a patriotic light display honoring those who serve and have served our country. These lights twinkle and dance in red, white, in blue. Along with classic Christmas ornaments, the trees are decorated with pictures and profiles of war heroes who sacrificed so much for our freedom. This display is in remembrance and gratitude to them.

 

You don’t have to travel far to see magical Christmas displays. The lights can be found everywhere, which means that the photo ops are endless. Post your pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #mwmholidays for a chance to be featured on our page! Check out our official Christmas on the River website.

 

Miss Kay’s Sweets and Eats Now Open!

“Food is the language. I know how to speak it.”- Miss Kay

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Miss Kay’s Sweets and Eats is open!

Antique Alley in West Monroe got a little sweeter today with the opening of Miss Kay’s Sweets & Eats! The new shop, founded by Miss Kay and the “beardless brother” Alan Robertson of A&E’s hit TV show Duck Dynasty serves breakfast, drinks, coffee, and specialty goodies including Phil’s Pralines and Miss Kay’s biscuits.

You only have to drive for just a bit down Trenton Street before you see a covered patio across the street from Roma’s Italian Bistro. Once you arrive at Miss Kay’s, you’ll find adorable multicolored chairs, rocking chairs, and even a checker board on their patio!

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Too many sweets to pick just one!

Inside is an urban coffee shop vibe mixed with a downhome bakery feel. Enjoy the sweets or a cup of joe with friends at the couches, around tables, or even at the bar along the wall with a great window view of Antique Alley. Order a handcrafted espresso drink, or keep it simple with one of Mamaw Kay’s biscuits ….or treat yourself with both! We recommend an iced chai latte with a warm praline cinnamon roll- so delicious!

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The full menu waiting to be unwrapped.

Throughout the Christmas season, their menu is limited to serve only holiday treats. This includes pecan pies, sugar cookies, Phil’s pralines, and the Carmelitas. When the grand opening takes place in January, they’ll have the full menu available! So keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime, you can buy your Christmas cookies here to guarantee that when Santa Claus eats them, he’ll be happy, happy, happy!

Even though Miss Kay isn’t the one cooking and baking in the kitchen, she has tested every recipe. So everything still tastes as good as if Miss Kay made it herself, Jack! Treat your sweet tooth today to some delectable goodies because the bakery is now open from 7am-6pm Tuesday- Saturday.