Community Connection

Community Connection: Homer

When someone mentions the name "Homer," I get two images in my head: a yellow cartoon character and a philosopher/poet/marble bust. Fortunately, the town of Homer was named after the latter. Homer, LA is the parish seat of Claiborne Parish. The town was laid out around the brick courthouse which is one of only four pre-Civil War courthouses in Louisiana that is still in use. It was completed in 1860. The building is built in the Greek Revival style of architecture which speaks more to the Anglo-Saxon influence on the area than the French influence.

Two of the biggest industries in the history of Homer and Claiborne Parish have been cotton and oil. During the Civil War, some area farmers would trade cotton with Union Soldiers in Monroe, LA, even though Claiborne Parish was strongly Confederate. The Herbert S. Ford Memorial Museum claims to have the oldest bale of compressed cotton in existence. It is said to have been baled around 1930.

In 1921, oil was discovered in Homer and people's lives were forever changed. The same museum holds a "Black Gold" exhibit featuring a recording of how a farming family moved from Mississippi to take advantage of the boom. The oil boom led to the building of Hotel Claiborne, which was established in 1890 and declared a state historic site in 1984.

Homer will be holding our final Super Saturday Arts camp on July 27. The camp will be held at Homer City Hall located at 400 E Main St. Registration is only $20 by July 17 and just $25 after that. Snacks and supplies are provided. If you would like to register your little one for camp, click here to download the registration for or just call the office at 318.255.1450

Community Connection: Arcadia

Little know fact: Arcadia is the highest elevated town in all of Louisiana. Arcadia is the parish seat of Bienville Parish and home of the monthly Bonnie and Clyde Trade days, an event I've always loved going to since I was a youngster. Arcadia is named after the French Colony in Nova Scotia and the name means "beautiful hills." The city has a rich history of outlaws, political uprising, and cotton.

Bienville Parish's economy heavily depended on cotton before the Civil War. Farmers never quite lived the genteel plantation culture that we imagine was the norm for cotton farmers, but they were able to live well. Then came the Civil War. Slavery was finally abolished in the South. Costs of cotton production rose and demand dropped dramatically. King Cotton was taken off of his throne.

Sparta was the first parish seat of Bienville Parish, and in 1890, Arcadia and Gibsland petitioned the state to hold an election to change the parish seat. In the third referendum, Arcadia won the vote by 65 and beat out the other candidate towns. However, there is still controversy surrounding that election. The story goes that half an hour after the ballots were tabulated, six wagons loaded with Arcadians surrounded the empty courthouse. Some of them went into the courthouse and began tossing the records to their waiting companions. There was a wild chase that night in 1893, and some of the records were undoubtedly lost. Many newspapers referred to that night as the night the "Bienville government was stolen."

Now these guys were small time compared to the most infamous duo to ever grace the pages of Arcadia newspapers. Enter Bonnie and Clyde. There could be several posts written about these two, so I'll keep it short. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were notorious outlaws responsible for killing 9 police officers and several civilians throughout the central US. They were gunned down on May 23, 1934 in Bienville Parish and their bodies were brought to the Arcadia coroner's office for examination. Today, Arcadia holds the monthly Bonnie and Clyde Trade Days, a huge weekend long flea market that takes place on the weekend before the third Monday of the month.

Arcadia will be hosting one of our Super Saturday Arts Camps on June 29 from 9am to 12pm. It will be held at the First United Methodist Church found on 2122 Myrtle St in Arcadia. The cost is only $20 if you register by June 19 and just $25 if you register after June 19. To register for the camp, click here to download the form or call the NCLAC office at 318.255.1450

Community Connection: Farmerville

Farmerville has a surprising lack of farmers. Well, farmers in the agricultural sense. The misleading name actually came from one of the founders of the town.

The first man to buy a lease of land in what is now Union Parish was John Honeycutt. John was a trapper, so the area was perfect for him. John got his lease from the Spanish government way back in 1790, and he settled in. A few years roll by with John scratching out a living doing his trapping thing when a roving band of Native Americans came through. They told John that there was another family that had settled in the area. When John went to meet the new neighbors, he was pleasantly surprised to find a settler named Feazel living with what could only be described as a house full of girls. The story says that John eventually asked Feazel for the hand of one of the girls. Typical guy.

People came from all over the South to settle in the area, and Union Parish was carved out of northern Ouachita Parish in 1839. Naming the parish seat proved to be a difficult matter. Matthew Wood donated the land for the town, but didn't want the town to be called Woodville. (Maybe he thought the name would be too mainstream.) The name was decidedly named after the Farmer family. On May 17 of that year, the first Union Parish police jury made the ordinance to officially name the town Farmerville. It wasn't until 1842 that the town received a charter and was incorporated.

There isn't much trapping going on in Farmerville anymore, but the outdoors still plays a huge role in the area. Lake D'Arbonne is an artificial lake which started with a $1 000 000 appropration in 1957 and was completed in 1963 with a cost of about $3 000 000 (just over $22.7 million in today's dollar). The lake covers 15 280 acres with 100 miles of shoreline and is 15 miles long. It's fed mainly by Little Corney Bayou and Corney Bayou, but Bayou D’Arbonne, Middle Fork Bayou, and Little Bayou D’Arbonne are also contributing sources. Lake D'Arbonne boasts plenty of fishing and water sports along with camping at the state park.

A long history that revolves around the outdoors and the new lake can lend itself to a great future for the area. I had the opportunity to talk with Katie Knight, local country music artist and Farmerville native. Katie said that she loves her home town. "It's a small town with a small town feel. Everybody knows everybody." I asked Katie about how growing up in Farmerville has helped her songwriting. She says it gives her a perspective to work with. She knows what it's like to live in such a small town and imagines what it would be like to live in a big city. To learn more about Katie Knight and her music check out her website.

Farmerville is hosting one of NCLAC's very special Super Saturday Arts Camp on Saturday, June 15. At this exciting one day camp, your kids will participate in visual and performing arts. The camp will take place at the First Assembly of God on 900 S Main St.

Registration for this even is only $20 by June 5 and $25 after June 5. This includes supplies and a snack. Camp is from 9am - noon. If you've got a youngster that's currently in 1-6 grade and you think they would enjoy a day full of fun arts based activities, click here to download the registration form. You could also call the NCLAC office at 255.1450 to register.

Community Connection: Ruston

Peaches, railroads, and hall-of-famers. That's what describes many of the highlights of Ruston, LA. Established in 1883 with land donated from Robert Edwin Russ, Ruston has blossomed into a bustling city that has brought some of the best in football, technology, and fun. Every summer, Ruston celebrates the Squire Creek Country Club Peach Festival. The festival brings people from all over the state and all over the country to downtown Ruston for music, food, and fun. Saturday brings music as sweet as the peaches themselves. Vendors from all over line the streets peddling their wares. Visitors can enjoy juried art exhibits, kids activities, and the annual parade among a myriad of other activities.

Ruston is home to Louisiana Tech University. Louisiana Tech (known affectionately as Tech) has brought many breakthroughs in technology and research through their engineering department; beauty through the art, architecture, and performing arts departments; and business leaders through their business department. Tech was the first to offer a degree in Nanotechnology, has had award winning plays and playwrights, and has produced many prominent business leaders in the area and around the country. Tech is also home to many international students that bring their own cultures to the table. Tech recently hosted Nepal night, which brought together people from all over the community to celebrate Nepal's culture. Food, music, and dancing took center stage. Nepal Night is just one of the many community events Louisiana Tech hosts that engages people in Ruston. Tech also has programs in the soft sciences (physchology, sociology, etc), liberal arts, and many other programs of study.

Another facet of Louisiana Tech is it's rich sports history. Tech has produced a number of Hall of Fame members in different sports. Terry Bradshaw played quarterback for Tech and became the NFL first draft pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1970. Bradshaw originally played second string behind Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Willie Roaf also went to Tech and is a current member of the NFL Hall of Fame after a career with the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. Karl "The Mailman" Malone. played basketball for Tech and was drafted after three seasons by the Utah Jazz. Malone had a stellar career in the NBA and came home to became a member of the Louisiana Tech basketball staff in 2007.

Ruston hosts most NCLAC events. Since I started as an intern for NCLAC in 2012, I've been a part of Artoberfest, Holiday Arts Tour, and Summer Arts Camp. NCLAC also hosts many art openings and exhibits at Crescent City Coffee in Ruston among other locations. Artoberfest is an annual one evening festival celebrating homebrew craft beer, which is a surprisingly popular pastime in the area. The annual Holiday Arts Tour connects local artists and local business with the community. Artists are able to have their work displayed in participating businesses. There are personal studio tours and workshops, more art than you can handle, and live music to wrap up the weekend.

NCLAC will be hosting two week long Summer Arts Camps at First Baptist Church in Ruston this year. The first will be June 3 - June 7 and the second will be July 8 - 12. Classes will be held from 9am - 12pm (noon). Classes will involve work in 2D and 3D art as well as drama. Camp fees are just $60 if you register by May 1 and only $65 if you register after that. To register or for more information, call the NCLAC office at 318.255.1450. Or you can make it easy on yourself and click here to download the registration form.

We look forward to hearing from you!


Community Connection: Jonesboro

Blink and you might miss it. Jonesboro is the largest town and parish seat of Jackson Parish as well as the host of a week long session of this year's Summer Arts Camp. Home of the Sunshine Festival and Christmas Wonderland in the Pines, Jonesboro boasts diverse opportunities to appreciate and cherish what makes small towns so great.

I grew up in Jackson Parish, and I've spent a lot of time in Jonesboro. Whether is driving through to get to Wal-Mart or spending time downtown "looping," Jonesboro was always one of my favorite places to be. I've been to most of the churches, all of the schools, and to a lot of the downtown businesses.

Jackson Parish has many ways to pass the time and enjoy the outdoors. Jimmie Davis state park is a great place to spend a spring, summer, or fall day. You can enjoy swimming at the beach, water sports and fishing from either of two boat launches, or camping in the many cabins available at the park. There is also hunting available (in season of course) at the Jackson-Bienville Wildlife Reserve.

The United Methodist Church in Jonesboro is hosting this year's week-long session of NCLAC's Summer Arts Camps for Kids. The camp will take place July 15-19 from 9am-12pm each day. Registration is only $60 if you register before May 1 and only $65 after May 1. It's simple to register, too. Just download the form below, fill it out, and send it, along with a check, to:

NCLAC PO Box 911 Ruston LA 71273

If you have any questions, call us at (318) 255-1450. Can't wait to see you this summer!

2013 Summer Arts Camp Registration Form