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Louisiana's 200-Year Bargain

Louisiana Art and Science Museum (100 S. River Rd., Baton Rouge, 225-344-5272,; $4). Home of the exhibit "Josephine, Le Grand Amour de Napoleon," which runs Oct. 10 to Feb. 1.

Cajun Fun Fest: A Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Celebration (Catholic High School, Admiral Doyle Dr., New Iberia, 888-9-IBERIA). This free carnival on May 1-4 promises food, music and crafts for sale.

Louisiana State Exhibit Museum (3015 Greenwood Rd., Shreveport, 318-632- 2020;; $5). Exhibits on Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson run from August to December.

Biedenharn Museum and Gardens (2006 Riverside Dr., Monroe, 318-387-5281,; free). "The Louisiana Purchase: 200 Years of Art, History and Culture" runs Sept. 1-30 and includes art exhibits, historical artifacts and a rooftop garden with pumpkins, sweet potatoes and other Purchase crops.

Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University (Natchitoches, 318-357-4332,; $7 per day, $5 for night shows only, advance weekend pass $12). The festival "Contemporary Folk Traditions and the Legacy of the Louisiana Purchase," on July 18-19, offers a full roster of events morning to night.

University Art Museum of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (337-482-5326 or 800-346-1958, The museum is hosting two main exhibits: "Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession," with 72 sculptures (Acadiana Center for the Arts, corner of Jefferson and Vermilion streets, Sept. 20-Jan. 4; $8) and "Painting in France 1803-2003" (University Art Museum, Dec. 20-April 1; $10).

Louisiana Purchase RV Rally and Summit (800-256-2931,; fees vary). The Nov. 3-9 rally will feature bands, joke tellers, tours, dancing and other activities on the Cajun Coast, between New Orleans and Lafayette.

Red River Quilters (Shreveport Convention Center and downtown Festival Plaza, Shreveport, 318-965-1143, The QuiltFest, which will run Oct. 3-5 in conjunction with Red River Revel (318-424-4000,, includes demonstrations, art, food, quilts from all of the Purchase states and more. For the Oct.4-11 festival, expect international and local performers, from dance to symphonic music, plus visual artists and children's programming. Fees vary.

Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo (Bernstein Park Dr., Monroe, 318-329-2400,; $3.25). Befriend an alligator or pretend to be a prairie dog, among other animal activities.

Louisiana Purchase Opera (Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, 801 North Rampart St., New Orleans, 800-881-4459, The New Orleans Opera presents its original piece by Thea Musgrave Oct. 2-5, with tickets from $40-$110.

• The New Orleans International Ballet Conference (multiple venues, 866-596-2695, is hosting "Dancing Through History France, Spain, the Caribbean, Canada: The Roots of Dance in Early Louisiana History 1750-1830," a June 4-8 symposium with a gala performance, lectures at the U.S. Mint, rare dance films and more. Cost: $235 for the whole package or various fees for individual events.

For additional events around the state, contact the tourism office (see below).

WHERE TO EAT: Cafe du Monde (1039 Decatur St., New Orleans), in the French Quarter since 1842, is a coffee-and- doughnuts dive, open 24/7. Find an outside table and watch the wacky world go by. At Randol's (2320 Kaliste Saloom Rd., Lafayette), eat crawfish etouffee, drink Dixie beer and dance the night away. Richard's Seafood Patio (1516 S. Henry St., Abbeville) serves crabs, crawfish and more -- crabs and crawfish, that is.

WHERE TO STAY: The Valentino family owns three lovely hotels in the French Quarter. With 100 rooms, many with balconies, the Hotel St. Marie (827 Toulouse St., New Orleans, 800-366-2743, is half a block from Bourbon Street. It also has a swimming pool. Doubles from $179 a night.

There are also delightful B&Bs throughout the state. For a list of properties, contact the Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association (225-346-1857,

INFORMATION: Louisiana Tourism Office, 800-99-GUMBO, or

-- Linton Weeks

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