Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana … a gateway parish to the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area.
Marksville, the parish seat, celebrates Louisiana’s longest running Fourth of July Celebration. Hypolite Bordelon Home, c. 1820, located on Tunica Drive, is an early Creole pioneer dwelling and the Marksville Chamber of Commerce office on the NRHP.
Avoyelles Parish Courthouse sits in the center of the Marksville Commercial Historic District downtown and features a historic pictorial exhibit on the second floor as well as an interpretive plaza on the grounds where Easter Egg Knocking takes place every Easter Sunday morning. Tucked away on the east side of town is the Marksville State Historic Site, a 39 acre area featuring prehistoric Indian mounds and Indian Village sites and museum housing artifacts and hands-on exhibits for children. Open to public by appointment.
Located in Mansura, named by Napoleon’s soldiers and home to Avoyelles oldest cemetery, is the LA 4-H Museum, unique multi-media exhibits bring to life the history and development of LA 4-H since its beginning as the first Corn Club in 1908. Features include the 4-H Hall of Fame, a 27’ long miniature 3-D parade, murals, artifacts and photos since 1908. The Dr. Jules Charles DesFosse’ House, c. 1790 is also in Mansura and was the first home listed on the NRHP in Avoyelles. Mansura was proclaimed the Cochon de Lait Capitale of the World in 1960 because of its annual Cochon de Lait Festival held on Mother’s Day Weekend.
Nearby Moreauville, location of LA Farm Festival, is Sarto Old Iron Bridge, 1916, over Bayou des Glaises, Big Bend, 1st bridge listed on the N.R.H.P. in Louisiana. Across the country road from the bridge is Adam Ponthieu Grocery Store, 1927/Big Bend Post Office Museum, a country museum, representing a time capsule of Avoyelles’ nostalgia, reflecting the time period between 1900 - 1950.
Tunica Biloxi Reservation sits in the middle of Avoyelles. The Tunica Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana owns and operates Paragon Casino Resort, Louisiana’s first Native American land based casino, and home to the Tunica Biloxi Cultural and Educational Resources Center. The center features artifacts, exhibits and interpretations of the Indian culture dating from 1400 A.D. An annual Native American festival, Tunica Biloxi Pow-Wow, is held every May. Tamahka Golf Course, part of Louisiana’s Audubon Trail offers golfing opportunities and clubhouse, and amenity of Paragon Casino Resort.
Bunkie Depot, est. 1911, doubles as a welcome center(Bunkie Chamber of Commerce) and railroad museum; also for viewing, a war memorial and Union Pacific Caboose. Bunkie hosts the LA Corn Festival annually on the second full weekend in June. Antique shops and a historic hotel round out Bunkie.
Cottonport is the place to be on the first weekend of October for the Cottonport Quilt Festival held at the Cottonport Museum—learn why “Cotton was King”. Christmas on the Bayou Festival is annually in December along the banks of Bayou Rouge. The art of egg knocking, Knocking on the Bayou, is relived every Saturday before Easter in Cottonport.
Avoyelles gems and jewels are strung throughout our rural areas include The Marc Dupuy Wildlife Trail located in Fifth Ward featuring a boardwalk through the Central LA Wildlife Refuge(Lake Ophelia and Grand Cote) wetlands. Louisiana state wildlife managed areas include Spring Bayou, Pomme de Terre and Grassy Lake. Three Civil war battle sites are recognized in Mansura, Simmesport and Marksville(designated with historical markers). Ben Routh Recreational Park, on the banks of the Red River is home to Easter on the Red, every Saturday before Easter.
Avoyelles, known for its “joie de vivre”, French cuisine and heritage where Agribusiness remains a major industry.