Saturday, September 14, marks the third annual Louisiana Landmarks Heritage Fair, held at the historic Pitot House (1440 Moss Street) on Bayou St. John from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. The family-oriented event recreates colonial life 200 years ago when early French and Spanish settlers mingled with African Americans and Native Americans. All of those cultural influences will be represented at “Life on the Bayou” Heritage Fair.
“In the city of New Orleans, Heritage Fair is the only event that focuses on Bayou St. John, James Pitot, and the way of life circa 1799-1850,” says Mary Ann Barkerding, event chair.
N.O. Quarter Shanty Krewe will serenade visitors with sailor tunes as they enter the gate. Off to the right, Greg Arceneaux will be showing off handmade furniture next to Roy Parfait, a Houma wood carver. Under the big tent will be Brenda Benoit, who knows everything there is to know about indigo, one of the colony’s first cash crops, and will regale guests with its history and dying techniques. Plauche’s Battalion d’Orleans of French Creole soldiers will be setting up a real military encampment for kids to explore preparations for the Battle of New Orleans. On the second-floor gallery of Pitot House, Ann Deemer, hand quilter; Jennifer Cole, weaver; and Mary Cooper, caner will show off their domestic skills. Anika Ofori is going to sell her own brand of traditional African black and Shea butter soaps.
Children’s activities are very hands-on, including traditional children’s games, songs, and dances, says Barkerding. “I met a woman in her 30’s who had come to the Pitot House on a school field trip as a girl and never forgot it,” Barkerding says. Children love learning calligraphy taught by Yvonne Leslie. “Everyone is so tied to their devices these days, but when they’re here, they forget all about them. Last year, one little girl sat with the potter for hours,” she added.
There is just so much going on, Barkerding explains. “There’s the 150-year-old pirogue brought by boat builders Vickie Eserman and Robin Page, and woodworker Dwayne Broussard will be rebuilding the traditional Pieux fence. Red Hill Honey is bringing an observation bee hive so everyone can hunt for the queen. And inside the house, vintage dancers will promenade in early American dancing.
For adults, African drummers and a dancer from Bamboula 2000 will entertain from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM. There’ll be Italian ices, barbecue, and a variety of beverages poured by Tap Truck. In the Pitot House bookstore, an array of historical books, including ones about James Pitot, the first American mayor of New Orleans, and his bayou home, are available for sale, as well as traditional wooden children’s toys and books.
The Pitot House is located at 1440 Moss Street, between Esplanade and Orleans Avenues. Admission is $7.50 (children under 3 free). Parking is available along Moss Street.