With an additional 8 acres of parking available for this weekend’s anticipated 15,000 visitors, the Destrehan Plantation’s Fall Festival is back with some new additions.
“We want everyone to know we have a wonderful new parking area behind the Mule Barn, near the main entrance,” said Executive Director Nancy Robert. “We’re excited to be able to have the festival again.”
The festival is Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11 – 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the plantation grounds.
Last year’s festival was cancelled because of limited parking at the same time the crowd was growing and additional construction was taking place on projects on the grounds. The festival attracted an estimated 12,000 people in the past, a figure that Robert hopes will grow this year.
The festival’s new additions include a children’s activities area in the schoolhouse. The Heritage Education Program is in charge of it and it will be available at no charge. The pony rides will be still be there at a charge.
“We’ve got lots of great crafters,” Robert said.
An estimated 125 booths will feature an enticing mix of items, as well as the area including more antique dealers.More demonstrations are planned, including open hearth cooking,smokehouse, trapper’s cabin and bousillage construction.
“We’re looking forward to everybody coming out and seeing all the changes we’ve made to the grounds.” — Nancy Robert, executive director
On Saturday, Dr. Eddie Boyd will be on hand to sign copies of his book, African American Home Remedies, at the Gift Shop.
“We’re looking forward to everybody coming out and seeing all the changes we’ve made to the grounds, as well as the larger parking so people don’t have to worry,” Robert said.Among the changes will be rededicating the Destrehan Plantation Education Center and renaming the Miller-Haydel Museum in recognition and appreciation of lifetime River Road Historical Society Board members Ralph Miller and Betty Haydel.
The Miller-Haydel Museum at Destrehan Plantation will feature an exhibit on the 1811 Slave Revolt featuring original folk art and artwork by well-known St. Charles Parish artist Lorraine Gendron. The museum features other exhibits including the Rost Home Colony and other details of the plantation’s history.
This year’s festival also is being dedicated to Miller and Haydel, who both died this year.
“They were a main part of why Destrehan Plantation was so successful,” said Robert, who credited them for their continued work in establishing Destrehan Plantation as a house museum.
Cajun and creole food also will be available for sale.Plantation tours with a tour guide will be available that includes a video shown throughout the day about the plantation, as well as the Herbert J. Harvey Jr., Legacy Room being open where all the Destrehan documents are stored, she said. The Jefferson Room, with an original document signed by Thomas Jefferson along with museum quality copies of documents that made up the Louisiana Purchase, will be open for viewing.
Entertainment will be provided by Summer Breeze Band on Saturday afternoon and by Louisiana Spice on Sunday afternoon.
Robert thanked the many people who volunteer at the festival.
All proceeds go to the plantation’s Master Plan Expansion, which is in its third year.
Projects have included a new Administrative Center, Bridal Suite, a small bed and breakfast cabin, School House, Trapper’s Cabin, additional property purchase and clearing for future expansion.
Admission is $8 for adults and teens, and free for ages 12 and under.
All proceeds from admission fees go toward Destrehan Plantation’s historic preservation efforts and expansion.