Friday, January 27, 2012

St. Landry Parish claims state tourism award

    St. Landry Parish is the home of three Grammy winners in zydeco music and an ESPY winner with Devery Henderson of the New Orleans Saints. The parish now has a Louey winner, too. 
    The St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission has brought home the 2011 Louey Award, presented to the state’s outstanding convention and visitors bureaus and tourists commissions. The parish received its Louey Thursday at the Louisiana Travel Promotions Association summit in Shreveport. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne presented the honor at the Louisiana Tour & Travel Awards Luncheon in the Shreveport Convention Center.
    LTPA issues Loueys in three categories. St. Landry Parish won in commissions with a budget of $250,000 to $749,999. 
    The award recognizes commissions who have used events, activities marketing or promotions to generate visitors. Winners also have a history of partnering with neighboring visitor bureaus to promote tourism throughout the region. 
    St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission director Celeste Gomez, who is part of a local group meeting with arts and cultural representatives in France this week, was pleased to receive the award. 
    “Winning the Louey award confirms that what we are doing as a tourist commission is effective,” said Gomez. “Being recognized by our peers makes this selection even more important.” 
Celeste Gomez
    In less than three decades, the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission has grown from a small committee to a prime player in Louisiana’s $9.4 billion tourism industry. The parish consistently ranks 17th out of 64 parishes for expenditures by domestic travelers. 
    The past 12 months have been a banner year for the commission, which opened its new St. Landry Parish Visitor Information Center on I-49 exit 23. The 4,600-square-foot facility is the first in Louisiana and one of the few in the United States to focus on sustainability and green construction. 
    The building’s design combined many sustainable features with traditional south Louisiana practices, which were not always recognized as green. Visitors from as far as China and New Zealand have marveled over its design, which has been highlighted in local and state media. Images of the center will be submitted to architectural competition this year. 
    The visitor center, with accompanying interpretive exhibit panels and programs, has impacted tourism on many levels: 
  • Serving as a resource center providing travelers pertinent information on the state. 
  • As an attraction and an education resource on green and sustainable architecture and living practices.
  • Native plants and regional ecosystems.
  • A venue to showcase cultural exhibits.
  • A living billboard for local artists and cultural traditions 
    The visitor center has developed a strong presence in the local community. Just this weekend, native Cajun and Creole French speakers gathered for conversation and coffee during a visit from La Table Française d’Arnaudville. Project S.O.U.N.D., a non-profit group that works with students in creative writing and art, held a recital featuring Opelousas High School students. 
    First Fridays with a Little Lagniappe, an art series, has featured parish artists who create new items with reclaimed and recycled material. A new season kicks off Feb. 3 with furniture designer and artist Lee Tedrow of Opelousas. 
    A traditional, rural Mardi Gras costume, made by Georgie and Allen Manuel of Eunice, is currently on display. Herb Roe’s Mardi Gras art will be displayed in February. 
    The visitor center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Tourist information is available at (337) 948-8004 or the web site, Events are also listed on Facebook at St. Landry Parish – It’s Gumbo for Your Soul and Twitter @StLandryParish. Videos are online at

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