Coca-Cola Week at Biedenharn Museum and Gardens

A whole week dedicated to America’s favorite beverage? We’re in.

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An accurate representation of all the Coca-Cola we’ll be drinking to celebrate.

The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens will be celebrating its inaugural Coca-Cola Week Sept. 6-10. There will be a variety of events and fun activities including a look at the museum’s Coca-Cola collections, a display of Coke vehicles and a dinner featuring a Coca-cola based menu. Check the schedule below, and remember to mark these dates on your calendar!

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The Biedenharn Coca-Cola Musuem is your exclusive Coca-Cola Week headquarters.

Tuesday, Sept.6th

The week kicks off at 7pm with author Larry Jorgenson. Jorgenson will be discussing his upcoming book about various Coke museums and public collections of the iconic brand in the Education Building located behind the Coke Museum. This program is free and open to the public.

Jorgenson is a self-described “news dog”, who started working for a newspaper when he was only 13. He conquered the world of publication, radio, and TV news and now focuses much of his time on history. He recently completed a book on the history of Hot Wells, Louisiana.

Jorgenson’s upcoming book, The Coca-Cola Trail, is about the influential people and places that make up the history of Coca-Cola. People like Joseph A. Biedenharn, who in 1894, made a world changing decision and became the first to ever bottle Coca-Cola.

The book details the stories of the early independent bottlers throughout the nation, who had the vision and invested their efforts and money to create what is now the world’s best known product. With over thirty chapters, the book takes readers on the Coca-Cola Trail adventure. Accented by historic photos and interviews, the book pays tribute to those who really made history happen!

Now 122 years later, Coke is not only the number one soft drink in the world, but it is also an iconic image that represents family, fun, and home.

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Soda Jerk at Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum who is surprisingly sweet.

Thursday, Sept. 8th

At 6pm, Chef Pat Nolan will wow guests with delicious food prepared with Coca-Cola or other Coke brand product. A beautiful four course meal will begin before sundown. Guests can enjoy a flavorful menu of deep fried Coke and crawfish fritter, green salad with Sprite vinaigrette, Coca-Cola beef short ribs, garlic Cola chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans, and Coca-Cola tres leche cake. Before each course, Museum Director Ralph Calhoun will present a taste of Coke history and trivia. Guests will be seated at tables of six to encourage conversation and fun. Music will be provided by the NELA Clarinet Choir directed by Scot Humes.

Reservations are required for this amazing event. The dinner is $35 per person and seats can be purchased by calling the Museum Gift Shop at 318-387-5281 or stopping by.

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Vintage Coke Delivery Truck at The Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum which is the perfect vehicle to drive around showing off all the Coca-Cola you just bought for Coke Week.

Saturday, Sept. 10th

The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens will not only offer visitors FREE ADMISSION but also excite them with Diet Coke and Mentos Blasts, at 11am and 1pm. Visitors will also be able to view and interact with classic Coca-Cola trucks, including a Model A Ford, a Model T from 1917, a Coca-Cola Panel Truck, and a 1946 Chevy Flat Bed delivery truck. Several Soda Jerks will be available to illuminate patrons on the 100th Anniversary of the iconic Coca-Cola contour bottle.

The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens is open Tues. thru Sat. from 10am to 5pm. Free parking is available on three sides of the museum. The main parking area is located on Speed Avenue near the main entrance to the Coke Museum. Tour information, maps and tickets are available at the Museum Store located inside the Coke Museum. An unloading zone for buses is also located on Speed Avenue directly adjacent to the Coke Museum. Adults $6 Students $4 (Under 12 years old) Annual Pass $20 (a great bargain) Tickets may be purchased in the Museum Store, located in the Coke Museum building at 2000 Riverside Drive (the corner of Riverside Drive and Speed Avenue).

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Executive Director, Ralph Calhoun, please call Mr. Calhoun at 318-387-5281 or e-mail at director@bmuseum.org.

6 Places to Find Gluten-Free Options in Monroe-West Monroe

by Jerrica B.

We all know that Ouachita Parish is home to some of the most delicious food. Our local restaurants boast a wide variety of flavors and cuisines. However, there are some whose options are limited. For those of you who have Celiac’s disease, gluten intolerance, or who just prefer a gluten free diet, there are several restaurants in our area who are happy to cater to your needs. Check out these great places:

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Gluten free Chicken Pot Pie at For His Temple Foods
  1. For His Temple Family Foods (315 Wood St., West Monroe)

The beauty of this restaurant is that you can walk right in, order anything off the menu, and it is guaranteed to be gluten free. This place boasts a 100% gluten free menu. From their delicious chicken pot pie—made with gluten free pie crust—to their pecan chocolate chip cookies, all of their food is organic. Their goal is to serve only healthy, delicious meal alternatives to your everyday menu. This place is pick-up only, so it’s great for a quick stop!

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Wagyu Burger at Vieux Carre Gourmet Market
  1. Vieux Carre Gourmet Market (1623 N 18th, Monroe)

Satisfy your burger cravings here! This restaurant offers a gluten-free burger that is to die for! The Wagyu Burger is 6 oz. house ground with onion, pickles, American cheese, lettuce, and tomato all wrapped in steamed collards in place of a bun.

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Cilantro Organic Bistro
  1. Cilantro Organic Bistro (1211 N 18th, Monroe)

This restaurant offers many gluten-free options on their menu. Most of their menu changes daily, but the delicious roasted turkey sandwich can be served on gluten free bread, and it is almost always available! Also, be on the lookout for their delicious gluten free peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies. Check their website for weekly menu updates.

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Roma Italian Bistro
  1. Roma Italian Bistro (400 Trenton St., West Monroe)

People visit this restaurant for their amazing pasta dishes and Italian cuisine, but also for their casual, chic atmosphere. For their gluten free options, any pasta dish can be prepared with gluten free pasta.

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Paw Paw’s Pizza
  1. Paw Paw’s Pizza Factory Buffet  (3426 Cypress St., West Monroe)

This relatively new restaurant in West Monroe has been making big impressions on pizza lovers throughout the area. They have a gluten free pizza crust that can be used with any of their delicious toppings. It is not available on the buffet, but it is made to order. Call ahead and check availability, though, because they sell through them quickly!

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Daily Harvest
  1. Daily Harvest (1105 Forsythe Ave., Monroe)

This restaurant always has healthy foods ready to eat. Call one day ahead to order gluten free muffins, brownies, or cookies! This gives the kitchen the ability to avoid cross-contamination and it gives you the ability to enjoy a delicious, gluten free dessert!

 

BONUS:

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Gluten free cakes by Butter Bakery

For all of your celebrating and party needs, Butter Bakery, a home-based bakery, bakes and decorates gluten free cakes! They can do single or multi-tier for office parties, weddings, or birthdays. Try their cupcakes and cookies as well. Check out their Facebook page for a look at all of their amazing creations.

All of these local places offer great alternatives for gluten-free eaters, and they don’t skimp on the flavor! Give them a try next time you are looking for a delicious, healthy meal.

 

10 Can’t Miss Summer Events in Monroe-West Monroe

By Janna J.

  1. Louisiana Music and Food Festival

May 21-Start summer 2016 off the Cajun way at the Louisiana Music and Food Festival. Come with an empty stomach and a full wallet to enjoy a Louisiana Saturday full of great shopping, amazing live music, and famous Cajun cuisine. Different genres of music will be performed throughout the day and night on both the RiverMarket and Bry Park stages. One moment you may be dancing the Cajun two-step and the next swaying along to the sounds of classic R&B, but no matter what type of music you prefer there will be something for everyone to enjoy at the Louisiana Music and Food Festival.

  1. Brewfest

June4-The 2nd annual Brewfest may be one of the most anticipated events of the summer. Last year’s event was wildly successful selling out before the event date. This year Brewfest is promised to be better than ever with over 150 beers from Choice Brands, Marsala Beverage, the Fort Miro Brewmasters, Glazer’s Distributors, International Wine & Spirits, Ouachita Brewing Co., Flying Tiger Brewery, and Cotton Port Brewing for tasting. There will also be music, food, and entertainment to make for a memorable night.This looks to be a sellout, so get your tickets soon!

  1. Downtown Cinema
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Downtown Cinema

May 28-Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy a movie under the stars at the Downtown Cinema. This event is a perfect idea for a family outing, romantic date for two, or a night out with friends. You don’t even have to worry about the snacks; the Downtown Cinema has you covered with free popcorn and water.  Movies will be playing throughout the summer, usually on the last Saturday of the month, so take a break from the stuffy theaters and enjoy your next flick in Downtown Monroe.

  1. Living Fountain at the Biedenharn
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Living Fountain at the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens

June 17 & 18-Watch nature come to life before your eyes as the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens presents the Living Fountain. This unique show will be back at the Biedenharn for the first time in 5 years. Witness the magic of a fountain coming to life before your eyes, with the use of music, lighting, live interaction, and water,

  1. Downtown Summer Art Festival

June 18-Celebrate the arts in the streets of Downtown West Monroe with the Downtown Summer Art Festival. Artist booths, live bands, food, and performers will be set up between Antique Alley and the river for the festival. Local artists will have their art on display and ready for purchase. Come see all things art at the Downtown Summer Art Festival.

  1. Miss Louisiana Pageant
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Miss Louisiana Pageant

June 23-25- Watch as young women from across the state compete for the title of Miss Louisiana 2016. This Pageant will be broadcast throughout the state, but there is nothing like seeing the competition first hand at the Monroe Civic Center. This event is a perfect outing for a girl’s night or a mommy-daughter date. Watching these outstanding young women inspire both young and old to never stop reaching for their dreams.

  1. Downtown River Jam

July 2-Downtown River Jam is back with the award winning Matthew Davidson Band live on the Skent-N-Dent stage. Various food trucks and a full bar will be on site.

  1. CenturyLink Star Spangled Spectacular Firework Show
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4th of July Fireworks by Jeremy Thornhill

July 2-No 4th of July celebration would be complete without fireworks and why settle for sparklers and pop rocks when you could be mesmerized by the Star Spangled Spectacular? The best spots in the Monroe-West Monroe area to catch the show will be the Downtown RiverMarket on the Monroe side or the across the river on the levee on the West Monroe Side. No matter where you are celebrating your Independence Day, make sure it’s a spot with a great view of the CenturyLink Star Spangled Spectacular.

  1. Zoobilation

August 6- Hip Hippo Hurray, it’s finally Zoobilation day! Join the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo as they host Zoobilation 2016: Hip Hippo Hooray. This family fun day will start off with a Zoo Run 5k walk/run/fun run through the zoo and Bernstein Park. After the Zoo Run, be prepared for a fun day filled with animals, education, boat rides, arts, and music. Don’t forget about the ZOOasis Splash Pad to cool off from the summer heat.

  1. Red Grape Stomp Fest
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I Love Lucy Look-a-likes at Landry Vineyards

August 27- Landry Vineyards‘ Outdoor Concerts are known for their wine, food, music, and fun but if you only choose to only attend one this summer make sure it’s Red Grape Stomp Fest. This unique event is unlike any other in the area. Guests are encouraged to come dressed straight out of the 1956 I Love Lucy episode “Lucy’s Italian Movie”, and prizes will be awarded to the best Lucy impersonator. You will even have a chance to stomp grapes just like Lucile. Music for the evening will include a mix of Classic Rock and R&B music that will have you, family & friends dancing all night. Make sure you pack your lawn chair, blanket and picnic dinner and enjoy the outdoor show.

With these events, summer 2016 is sure to be one for the books. So turn off the Netflix, get off the couch, and enjoy a day in beautiful Monroe-West Monroe. Find information on these events and many more happenings in Monroe-West Monroe on our Calendar of Events.

 

5 Reasons you can’t miss the Louisiana Crawfish & Gator Festival

By Lindsey W.

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Crawfish & Gator Festival

The 2nd Annual Louisiana Crawfish and Gator Festival returns to the Ike Hamilton Exposition Center in West Monroe this weekend from May 4 – 8, 2016. And here are 5 reasons why you can’t miss this festival:

  1. Kachunga and the Alligator Show! You’ll be on the edge of your seat with this action packed Man vs. Alligator show. They will perform three shows every day of the festival.
  2. Music and dancing! The festival will feature John Anderson and Jo El Sonnier, as well as many local country bands and singers including Mustang Sally, Mike McKenzie, and Dave Gore to name a few. Click HERE for the full line-up.
  3. Fun for the kids with Rock-It the Robot and the petting zoo! Rock-It features lights and music with life-like facial expressions and movements. The petting zoo will feature rabbits, goats, kangaroos, and pony rides.
  4. Fireworks! The Crawfish & Gator Fest will go out with a BANG with a fireworks show to wrap up the week’s events.
  5. Crawfish! It’s Louisiana. What other reason do you need?

Admission is $10 for Adults and $3 for Children 12 and under. Special admission price on Wednesday is $1. Rides are $1.50 each and armbands for rides are offered Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Bring the whole family! There is something for everyone at the festival.

Schedule:

Wednesday: Open 4 pm to close
Thursday: Open 2 pm to close
Friday: Open  4 pm to close
Saturday: Open 10 am
Sunday: Open 11 am

For more information, click HERE to check out their website.

‘Rita’s on the River

by Janna J.

The Downtown River Market hosted Monroe-West Monroe’s first margarita festival, ‘Rita’s on the River, on April 2. I may be partial due to my love for margaritas, but this event was a huge success. With 12 local restaurants competing for title of best margarita, live music,  food trucks, shopping, and even a kid’s craft table ‘Rita’s on the River had all the ingredients for a perfect Louisiana Saturday afternoon.

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Avocado’s Food Truck

After making it through the first 3 of the 15 margarita samples that came with my ticket my stomach stared craving something to eat. Lucky for me there were food trucks on site. Avocado’s food truck was a crowd favorite with their tacos that complimented the margaritas perfectly. After I had a few tacos to reboots my energy I was ready to shop till I dropped at the vendor booths. The vendor booths had everything from jellies and jams, handmade jewelry, clothing, specialty wood work, to fresh grown tomatoes. It was a shopping lover’s paradise. Caster and Chicory, a local pop up beignet shop was also in attendance at ‘Rita’s on the River. Their yummy fresh beignets were hands down my favorite purchase of the day.

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Caster & Chicory Pop-up Stand

Rita’s on the River wasn’t just designed for adults with its tasty margarita’s. Thanks to a kids craft table and live music from Roses and Revolvers, Josh Ezell and Early Ray, and Mario’s Mariachi Band this was an event the entire family could enjoy.

The competition for the title of best margarita was fierce as restaurants such as Avocado’s, Don Thomas Cantina, Iron Cactus, River & Rail, Warehouse No. 1, Brass Monkey, The Restaurant Sage, Trapp’s, Fieldhouse, Neat, Pickle Barrel, and Taco Bandido all had their best selling margarita’s prepared for the judges. Ultimately Avocado’s took home the coveted best margarita award, with Warehouse No. 1 receiving the people’s choice award.

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Judge’s Table

If you loved ‘Rita’s on the River just as much as I did, be sure to check out the upcoming events brought to you by our friends at the Downtown River Market:

April 28-30: Spring Fling

May 7: Geeks Along the River

May 21: LA Food & Music Festival

June 4: BrewFest

And keep up with all the fun events planned in Monroe-West Monroe by checking our our Calendar of Events!

Music in the hills of Landry Vineyards

by Jerrica B.

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Landry Vineyards- Photo by Mike Roberts

Our hometown vineyard sits on the edge of West Monroe. It’s a neat, log-cabin style building in the midst of rolling hills decked with rows upon rows of beautiful grape vines. It’s a local treasure. Guests can visit the vineyard to taste their delicious wines or tour their stunning property (or do both). And in the spring and fall, they give you another reason to come out!

The concert series that takes place at Landry Vineyards is always a good time. Hundreds of people turn out for each of their concert weekends, and there is only ONE left for the spring!

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Landry Vineyards Concert, Photo by Rebekah Landry

This season’s series has featured Lisa Spann & Company, Nathan Williams & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, and Code Blue & The Flatliners. Next week, Smackwater will take the stage, bringing a blend of classic rock, rhythm & blues, and cajun genres to the vineyard.

After a summer hiatus, the concert series will be back with their Blanc Du Bois Stomp Fest on August 13th. This exciting event will feature the Mike McKenzie Band. Bring out the whole family for a Lucille Ball look-a-like contest. The ladies who participate can stomp grapes and then place their juice-soaked footprints on Landry Vineyards t-shirts as a keepsake from the event.

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Lucy Look-a-Like Contest

If you can’t make it to that event, no worries! The Red Grape Stomp Fest is on August 27th. Another Lucy look-a-like contest and another grape stomp will take place. Lisa Spann & Company will be playing, and ladies who participate can also footprint their t-shirts.

After the stomp fests, the regular concert series resumes. The schedule takes place as follows:

September 10th –Code Blue & The Flatliners
September 24th – Mike McKenzie Band
October 8th – The Cartoons
October 22nd – Mason Granade

 

For a full schedule of their concert series, click here.

So start making your plans for the Landry Vineyards’ concert series. You can bring lawn chairs, blankets, and even a picnic dinner! There will be food available for purchase, but they do not allow outside alcohol. Support the vineyard and purchase one of their fine wines instead! Pets are not allowed either.

5 Quick Bites in Monroe-West Monroe

by Jerrica B.

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” – Orson Welles

One hour. That’s what most working citizens get for their lunch breaks. Sometimes we use this time to relax before we finish our work day, or we use it to run errands. Either way, we usually don’t have time for a sit down meal.

So what can we do?

I’m here to tell you that there is hope. Many of our local restaurants in Monroe-West Monroe provide delicious lunches that are served quickly and have plenty of variety. Here are just a few of our great local options:

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Cajun Turkey Poboy at Daily Press
  1. Daily Press (Monroe- 2899 Sterlington Rd., 318-329-9595; 2300 Louisville Ave., 318-855-4588; 1115 Garrett Rd., 318-605-2378)

With 3 locations right in Monroe’s busiest hubs, this restaurant is not only quick, but easy to get to. They offer salads, sandwiches, and baked potatoes. They also serve coffee and various desserts, including froyo. Try their chicken salad sandwich on a warm, flaky croissant or their delicious Cajun Turkey Poboy. Their locations are also gas stations, so you can grab bottled drinks, candy, and chips while you’re there. BONUS: Bring your receipt inside after you fill up on gas, and you get $1 off a combo meal. How’s that for a one-stop shop? West Monroe residents, be on the lookout for one in your town later this year!

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Chicken, ribs, and sausage plate with BBQ beans and potato salad at BBQ West
  1. BBQ West (West Monroe- 4900 Cypress St., 318-396-7455)

They prepare your meal right in front of you as you order. Grab a to-go plate or dine in with the Best of the Delta’s Best BBQ restaurant of 2015. Try their delicious chopped beef sandwich, or their ¼ chicken plate. Ask for fries to go with it! Note: You might have to take extra precautions to ensure that BBQ sauce doesn’t get on your clothes, but the quality of the food definitely makes it worth your while.

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Sweet & Sour Chicken & Cabbage Dinner at Cilantro
  1. Cilantro Organic Bistro (Monroe- 1211 N 18th St., 318-387-8446)

Located right inside Fiesta Nutrition Center on N 18th in Monroe, this restaurant is your go-to for quick, healthy meals. Their menu changes up every day, but they always serve vegetarian choices, gluten-free options, and a variety of other creative, healthy meals. You can pick-up or eat-in, if you’d like. If you have extra time, browse their store’s supplements, organic grocery, or natural beauty products. Follow Fiesta Nutrition Center on Instagram for daily menu updates!

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Eastern Chinese Restaurant
  1. Eastern Chinese (West Monroe- 3426 Cypress St., 318-396-8181)

Locals rave about this restaurant’s quick service and delicious food. Call in your order ahead of time for even quicker service. Check out their lunch specials for a delicious meal that won’t hurt your wallet! This place may be small, but they have big flavor. Don’t miss out on this great Chinese cuisine! Check out their menu on their website.

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  1. Big Momma’s Fine Foods (Monroe- 1118 S 2nd St., 318-388-5678)

This restaurant has your home-style cookin’ cravings covered. Fried chicken, beef tips, black eyed peas, and mashed potatoes are all on the menu. This place is one where you can just go through the line, order, and go. You can grab it to-go or eat in. Try their hot water cornbread paired with one of their delicious entrees for a soul-food experience like no other!

So next time you need to grab a quick bite, give these great restaurants a try. These are just a few of the many, great options that we have here in Monroe-West Monroe.

What are some of your favorite quick, local places? Comment and let us know!