Autumnis a wonderful time of year in Southwest Louisiana – there’s a crisp, refreshing chill in the air, yet it’s still warm enough to be comfortable outdoors. Break out the sweaters! Because it’s such a pleasant time of year, there are a flurry of fun, exciting activities to keep us busy – festivals, fundraisers, outdoor sports, holiday events, and any number of other reasons to gather together and celebrate. In this special section, you’ll find our annual SWLA Festival and Events Guide, how to spend a day in Baton Rouge while waiting for the LSU game to start, new things to do with Lake Area Adventures, and general tips to help you “Find Fall.” (Think pumpkin spice!)
Carnival rides, midway games, candy apples, cotton candy, regional delicacies, and of course, art and music . . . festivals and other events provide us fun opportunities to celebrate our unique SWLA culture. Lake Charles is the Festival Capital of Louisiana, and fall is a great time of year for this region’s favorite pastime. In our festival and event guide this year, we focus on local happenings from Sulphur to Jennings to DeRidder and all points in between. So, in chronological order, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s SWLA fall festival and event season.
*Note – As we are still dealing with the COVID-19/Delta variant pandemic at the time of this writing, please verify an event with the sponsor prior to traveling. Some events may be modified or cancelled.
St. Raphael’s Fall Fest Arts & Craft Fair
Sponsored by St. Raphael’s Catholic Daughter Court #1377
Sept. 7, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
I-10 Outlet Mall, Iowa
St. Theresa Bon Amis Festival
St. Theresa Catholic Church, 4822 Carlyss Dr., Carlyss
St. Theresa Bon Amis Festival is a local tradition that began over 39 years ago. This family-friendly event offers something for everyone. You’ll find a wide variety of delicious food, plenty of rides, and awesome music! A large covered pavilion welcomes visitors for seating, eating, visiting, and listening to music. Also available are live and silent auctions, a garage sale, cake walk, face painting, sweet shop, and more.
Sept. 24, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
This Downtown Lake Charles
Event showcases area artists in galleries, museums, and businesses throughout the Lake Area.
Stearman Fly-In Event
Sept. 29- Oct. 3
For owners and pilots of Stearman airplanes, featuring patrols, formation flying and other events. Open to the public Oct. 2.
Fall Food Fest
Oct. 2, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or until food runs out
Immaculate Heart of
Mary Catholic Church
2031 Opelousas St.,
Enjoy home cooked BBQ Chicken or Pork Steak plates, with potato salad, rice dressing, baked beans, and bread. Homemade Sweet Potato Pies and Pop Corn Balls also available. Due to COVID-19 concerns, food is to-go only.
Lake Charles Film Festival
Cinemark Theater at Prien Lake Mall
Over 50 films will be screened including feature length and shorts in categories such as narrative, documentary, animated, student, and music videos. Buy tickets on their website.
Beauregard Parish Fair
Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds
Featuring carnival rides, food, arts and crafts, livestock shows, a parade and pageant.
Jeff Davis Parish Fair
Featuring carnival rides, food, arts and crafts, livestock shows, a parade, pageant., talent show and petting zoo.
West Cal/Cam Fair
West Calcasieu Arena and & Center, 401 Arena Road
Admission $5 for ages 11 and older; children under 10 free Sulphur’s annual Cal-Cam Fair is a fall tradition for many Southwest Louisiana residents – and for good reason. They welcome an average of 15,000 visitors each year and feature carnival rides, a livestock show, awards in various food, baked goods and arts and crafts contests, music, beauty pageants, wildlife exhibits, games, and attractions for both kids and adults.
Farm to Tableaux
Oct. 14, 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Lake Charles Civic Center
A celebration of art and fine cuisine, Farm to Tableaux benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters SWLA.
Oct. 16, noon – 2:00 a.m. (for indoor music venues. Vendors close at 10:00 p.m. and outdoor music ends at midnight)
700 block on Ryan St., Lake Charles
Chuckfest celebrates all that makes Lake Charles special – music, food, and art. Festival goers enjoy live music on four stages (two indoor and two outdoor). An exclusive VIP area will be available for ticket holders, and a Kids’ Zone will include laser tag and face painting.
Oct. 16, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Lake Charles Civic Center, 900 Lakeshore Dr.
Hosted by the Arts and Humanities Council, this annual festival brings kids and art together through hands-on art projects. Local organizations and businesses will host booths where children can craft fun and creative pieces of art that they can take home, including painting, drawing, sculpture, and crafts.
Stars and Stripes Car Show and Artist Market
Henning Cultural Center, 923 S. Ruth St. Sulphur
Yellow Rails and Rice Festival
This annual festival attracts birders from all over the country and provides one of the best opportunities to see the elusive Yellow Rail, a rare marsh bird that migrates to the Gulf Coast each winter. Considerations for COVID-19 will be made and the event will be primarily outdoors with limited participants and self-guided field trips. The mission of the festival is to promote agritourism/ecotourism in SWLA.
Living History Cemetery Tour
The Living History Cemetery Tour allows local residents to “meet” historical larger-than-life SWLA figures.
Nov. 9 – 10, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Burton Coliseum, 7001 Gulf Hwy., Lake Charles
Admission $5, kids 12 and under free
This unique market features nearly four covered acres of anything and everything, coupled with delicious SWLA food and fun in a country fair-like atmosphere. The event takes place each Spring and Fall and features over 300 vendors selling antiques, retro & vintage items, handcrafted items, toys, collectibles, unique clothing, artwork, comic books, furniture, gifts, unique jewelry, plants, a farmers market and more. Kids enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, and adoptable pets seeking forever homes. Food vendors on-site.
Smoke & Barrel
Calcasieu Parish Courthouse Lawn, 1000 Ryan St. Lake Charles
General admission free, VIP tickets available.
Smoke & Barrel celebrates whiskey, bourbon, and BBQ with two distinct admission areas and features live musical entertainment. The ticketed VIP area hosts a tasting with over 75 bourbon and whiskeys and a BBQ tasting featuring creative dishes from some of the top pit-masters in Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas. The general admission area offers BBQ for sale along with batched whiskey cocktails and other beverages for purchase. An amateur BBQ competition will add excitement to the day.
by Danley Romero
Fall is a season of transition and activity. Trees change color, scattering leaves and dropping nuts that disappear in a flurry of squirrels. Animals prepare for winter. Pumpkins lie waiting in fields and corn peeks out of husks. But what will you do this Fall?
Southwest Louisiana offers many fun-filled options – farmers markets, art exhibitions, paintball or laser tag with friends, biking new or familiar routes. Meander through prairies and marshes on your way to the Gulf of Mexico, or simply enjoy some fresh air with great food and great company. The gradual approach of winter is not only a welcome retreat from hot weather to cooler temperatures, but also an opportunity for celebration.
Here’s our list of seven favorite activities to make your SWLA Fall even more exciting.
Meet Me at the Market Event Series
Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center is launching this new event series as an expansion of the Charlestown Farmers Market. Vendors will meet on Bilbo Street behind Historic City Hall on the first Saturday of the month from 8:00 a.m. to noon, starting October 2. You’ll find food trucks and live music, arts and crafts under the oaks with the Children’s Museum, and an art market on the front plaza.
Party on the Patio
Rikenjaks Brewing Company, Luna Bar & Grill, and Crying Eagle Brewing Company are a few of the great Lake Charles establishments for outdoor dining, delicious food, drinks, and live music.
A trip to a pumpkin patch is a Fall tradition for many families. Photo ops abound and the kids enjoy picking out a pumpkin to take home and carve and roast pumpkin seeds. Many patches also offer petting zoos, hayrides, and corn mazes.
In Search of Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin spice is a much-anticipated part of Fall for many, and the Lake Area has several great coffee shops and bakeries to explore this seasonal treat. Great Harvest rolls out their delicious pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and loaf cakes made with real pumpkin and autumn spices, cream cheese-filled pumpkin sponge cake rolls, pumpkin swirl bread filled with spices and brown sugar (with or without pecans), and a white chocolate pumpkin spice latte. Also check out The Village Coffeehouse in Sulphur; Stellar Beans and The Bekery in Lake Charles.
Tailgating at McNeese Games
McNeese tailgating is a tradition passed down from generation to generation, and newcomers have a great time, too. The friendly atmosphere and camaraderie make it special: kids play while adults cook family recipes like jambalaya, barbecue, gumbo, and fried seafood, and there’s plenty of conversation, sharing, and excitement for the game. It’s a great place to get to know or catch up with the locals and eat some good food. At block parties on the Friday nights before a home game in Alumni Grove, you’ll enjoy live music, food truck fare, and talks from football coaches and Heath Schroyer, McNeese’s athletic director. Home games are scheduled for September 4, October 2, October 23, November 6, and November 20.
An Afternoon at the Museum:
Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center in Lake Charles has several exhibits on display this Fall.
Hit Me with your Best Shot:Gallery by the Lake’s third Bird Photography Exhibition on the second floor runs through October 16, 2021.
The Paintings of James Michalopoulos: This exhibition features oil paintings of New Orleans architecture, streetscapes, and local characters. September 17 through November 27, 2021.
The Pace Collection: Japanese Woodblock Prints:Celebrate Japan’s art and culture with Japanese textiles and woodblock prints from Paul Jacoulet and Ogata Gekko. October 23 through December 31, 2021.
SWLA Outdoor Fun and Games
Bayou Games: Paintball, laser tag, gellyball, video games and snow cones are all available at Bayou Games in Sulphur, La. Book events through their website, BayouGames.com.
Bike Riding: Grab a friend and a bike and get out there! Socially distanced by nature, biking is a great way to get some sunshine and see the Fall scenery at a slower pace. Plan a route along the Creole Nature Trail to experience some of Louisiana’s beautiful landscape. Map out a new route to explore unfamiliar areas, or explore familiar routes you’ve traveled by car at a more relaxed tempo.
Creole Nature Trail: Get out of town and enjoy the Fall weather and wildlife with a windows-down drive and plenty of stops along the Creole Nature Trail. The prairies, marshes, and national wildlife refuges are teaming with wildlife. Walking trails and overlooks provide great opportunities to get up a little closer to nature. Play in the surf at Holly Beach, bring binoculars, sunscreen, and a camera, and experience Louisiana nature in a close-to-home getaway, whether alone or with friends and family. Take along a map and the Creole Nature Trail Guide, found on the Visit Lake Charles website.
Exploring Louisiana’s Capital While You’re There
Fall is synonymous with college football. If you’re headed to east for a big LSU game, here are a few best places in Baton Rouge to relax and dine when not hanging out in Death Valley.
Located on the top of the Shaw Center of the Arts, Tsunami offers an incredible sushi menu with over 4,000 square feet of outdoor rooftop views of the mighty Mississippi River. Their dishes feature fresh seafood fused with a selection of diverse Asian dishes married with traditionally southern roots. Feeling creative? Tsunami also offers periodic sushi classes throughout the year. Head to their website for more information.
Eliza Restaurant & Bar, a contemporary Creole restaurant, has always had a very simple mission – to serve high quality southern favorites with an abundance of hospitality. Enjoy a hand-selected seasonal menu featuring ingredients from the finest local producers. Chef Russell Davis hails from some of New Orleans’s greatest restaurants, and combines high-quality cuisine with a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Every Friday they offer a Yellow Label Lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. where guests can enjoy $12 glasses of Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne with the purchase of a lunch entrée.
Experience the magic of Michelangelo’s world-famous work up close for the first time with the traveling exhibition, “Michelangelo: A Different View” at Raising Cane’s River Center, September 1-30, 2021. This is the only exhibition showcasing the entire set of works and is officially licensed by the Vatican Museums. With over 50 pieces, including a 20’x20’ painting of the Last Judgement, this experience allows visitors to view superb reproductions of the elaborate paintings of the Florentine master from a short distance with no time constraints.
Relax and play in style at the L’Auberge Casino Hotel in downtown Baton Rouge. The hotel is a combination of uptown luxury with the comfort of home and hospitality. Loosen up from game day jitters with in-room spa massages available for reservation or hang out in your own cabana by the pool. Feeling lucky? L’Auberge also offers over 1,400 slot machines, 50 table games and over 1,500 square feet of Poker space.
Only a couple of miles from Death Valley, Tin Roof Brewery is Baton Rouge’s largest and most renowned craft brewery. They produce a rotating selection of delicious hand-crafted beers and offer a comfortable, laid-back setting to vibe with friends or watch the game. Tin Roof offers a variety of revolving food trucks that are almost always parked onsite for late-night bites, and visitors can even book a private tour to see the brewery’s behind-the-scenes action.
by Emily Martindale
Throughout the year, Lake Area Adventures (LAA) offers great options for adventure seekers, and Fall is the perfect time to join in on their fun. LAA is a multi-faceted locally owned business offering kayak and boat rentals and tours, swim lessons, scuba certifications, a gamer’s lounge, bounce house rentals, private party options, and more. Tim Robles, owner of the company, says they have some extra plans up their sleeve for this Fall to keep people active and involved in our area. Their creative staff has come up with a unique Fall calendar you won’t want to miss!
Catch one of their Sunset Kayak Tours every other Friday. Imagine experiencing one of our Louisiana Fall peach sunsets from right on the water?
Their indoor temperature-controlled pool is the perfect spot for many activities:
Pool PE (a Pool Activity Program designed to keep kids active this season)
Swim and scuba lessons
At Parents Night Out, kids have supervised access to the pool, gamer’s lounge, outdoor movie, and the bounce houses. Offered the first Friday of every month.
Movie + Swim Nights have been a hit over the summer and will continue through the year. Every third Friday of each month.
Lake Area Adventures has also created Stories and Songs Night featuring local songwriters in a more listener-friendly setting, which will officially launch this October.
No Fall calendar is complete without a Halloween event! LAA staff is creating a Haunted Adventure to open the last three weekends of October.
To close out their Fall calendar, a Fireside Movie + Smores Family Night and Holiday Makers Market is being planned. After that, Christmas Boat Tours in December!
“We believe now, more than ever, our community is craving local opportunities for adventure to help break away from the normal routines of life that we can often find ourselves in,” says Zach O’Quinn, special events and tours coordinator. “Lake Area Adventures has been active in our outdoor community since we opened in 2015, and we are passionate about creating things to do within our own backyard of SWLA.”
Stay up to date with all Lake Area Adventures activities by following them on social media.