What was once a corridor for the Illinois Central Railroad is now 31 miles of paved hike and bike trails. From access points throughout St. Tammany Parish, you can walk or bike from downtown Covington, through Abita Springs, Mandeville and Lacombe to Slidell.
St. Tammany Parish government purchased the railways in 1992 and with numerous grants and federal funds converted the rails to trails. Railroad trestles have been remodeled into pedestrian bridges and tunnels have been built to cross under busy highways. There are even separate equestrian paths in several places. Now, its Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism has planned a two-day moving celebration.
The Tammany Trace 20th Anniversary Celebration will begin in Covington on Saturday and end in Slidell on Sunday. Festivities kick off from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, at the Covington Trailhead, 419 N. New Hampshire St. There will be music by We 3, the Covington Art Market sponsored by the St. Tammany Art Association, the Mayor’s Health Initiative and food from the Covington Farmers Market.
The celebration then travels down the Trace to the Abita Springs Trailhead where from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will be Cajun music by La Touche and a performance with the Northshore Cajun Dancers. Bike Easy will give safety instructions and local restaurants will have food and drinks available.
Festivities move to the Tammany Trace Trailhead on Koop Drive near Mandeville where from 2 to 4 p.m. the Creole Stringbeans will perform. There also will be face painting, the Audubon Zoo Mobile will bring the Wetlands Express, the Samba Man will entertain and an arts and crafts tent will have plenty of activities for the kids.
The celebration continues Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Mandeville Trailhead from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a musical performance by Mykia Jovan. A jazz brunch will be available for purchase from Opal Basil and the Lake House. There also will be a puppet show by the Mandeville Fire Department and face painting.
From there, travel through Lacombe to Camp Salmen Nature Park where from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. visitors can take part in interpretive learning programs and enjoy music on the banks of Bayou Liberty. Milliken Farms will be on site with wildlife animals including raccoons, alligators and more. There will be the Boy Scouts’ obstacle course, a wildlife photography booth and music by Bobby Ohler.
The celebration concludes in Heritage Park in Slidell with a free concert from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with Vince Vance and the Valliants. For details, visit www.stpgov.org/20th.
Sharon Edwards is community news editor. To reach her, call (985) 640-1251