If you don’t think there’s anything to do this weekend except maybe sit at home and watch football on TV, well, you just aren’t trying very hard.
This may be the biggest week of the year, with music, drama, art and church festivals going on from one end of St. Tammany Parish to the other. And that’s not even counting Halloween events.
Here are four events in four locations, all worthy of your attention and attendance. And there might even be time left to watch a game or two.
Beer & art
Give credit to the organizers of the first OXtoberfest Beer Fest. They managed to find a niche in a crowded downtown Covington calendar.
The all-the-beer-you-can-drink-in-three-hours event at the Covington Trailhead benefitting the local Boys & Girls Club starts at 3 p.m. and transitions smoothly into Fall for Art, which will take over the rest of downtown starting at 6 p.m.
“There are a lot of moving parts to putting on something like this,” said Kim Bergeron, executive director of the St. Tammany Art Association, which coordinates Fall for Art. “We just try to make sure all of the bases are covered so that it’s as spectacular as possible for everyone.”
Fall for Art features upward of 50 galleries, restaurants and other businesses with live music and dance indoors and out.
For the art association, a highlight is the opening of “Self-Reflections: Photographs from the New Orleans Museum of Art,” which shows how early photographers experimented with mirrors and other reflections to produce selfies before the term had been coined. The exhibit will run through Dec. 3.
OXtoberfest will have music too, provided by King Kreole. But the main attraction is the ability to sample both local and national breweries. Tickets are $30-$35.
A concert of spirituals
There’s a difference between spirituals and gospel music.
That’s something participants will learn if they attend “Bound for Glory,” the Northlake Performing Arts Society’s opening concert of the season.
The free program of spirituals — the anonymously written songs of slaves — will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday at Our Lady of Lourdes, 3524 Berkley St. in Slidell, and 2 p.m. Sunday at Hosanna Lutheran Church, 2480 U.S. 190 in Mandeville, a first-time venue for the arts society.
Northlake Performing Arts Society music director Alissa Rowe said gospel is a 20th-century creation, often drawing on the themes, if not the actual music, of the spirituals sung a century or more before.
So, while the spirituals, apart from childhood favorites like “This Little Light of Mine,” may not be as familiar as gospel songs, their meaning is deeper, especially in the historical context, which will be explained as the concert progresses.
Don’t think of it as a dull evening though.
“Arranged for a choir, some of these songs are really lively,” said Rowe, the director of chorale activities at Southeastern Louisiana University. “And some of them really reverent and prayerful.
“Together, they make a really exciting concert.”
It takes work though.
The 60-member choir has had 10 full rehearsals plus a retreat to learn the background of the songs to better understand what and why they’re singing what they’re singing.
LPO to light up the Lakefront
The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra makes only one appearance in Mandeville each year, but the musicians make it count in atmosphere.
Saturday’s Sunset Symphony on the lakefront (Lakeshore Drive between Coffee and Carroll streets) has proven to be a big draw over the past nine years.
A specially constructed stage and sound system allow for good viewing and listening for those who bring lawn chairs and blankets (no seats provided) as well as picnic essentials. (Food trucks will be on hand, too.)
And then there’s the music.
Guest conductor Markus Huber has arranged a program ranging from the classics (Strauss’ "Blue Danube," Listz’ "Hungarian Rhapsody") to the movies ("Jurassic Park,"Pirates of the Caribbean") with a thunderous finale — Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
“You’re out there among the oaks, watching the sunset on the lake while you’re enjoying great music,” said Alia Casborne, Mandeville’s cultural development director. “It’s really breathtaking.”
The free concert starts at 5 p.m. with a performance by the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra. In case of rain, the concert will be held at the same time Sunday.
What made Abita famous
There was a time when citizens of New Orleans and other locales flocked to Abita Springs to partake of its healing waters, which were touted as a cure for yellow fever.
“Where nature performs miracles,” the sign as you enter the town limits still reads.
Those days are commemorated at Abita Springs Water Festival from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, appropriately enough at the tourist park.
“We’re celebrating our history,” said town clerk Yvette Randolph, who has headed the festival since its beginning 15 years ago. “It’s a tremendous community bonding experience.”
Among the celebrations is the naming of the 2017 Citizen of the Year, Mary Davis. A local artist, Davis was instrumental in developing the trailhead, the town museum and the pavilion where she will be honored.
Also debuting is a new town totem pole created by Dave Kelsey. The totem will feature direction signs to local attractions and businesses, while a camera on the weather station at the top will provide live streaming of the town.
It’s not all serious stuff.
There’s music provided by the local musicians — the Melatrons, the Abitals, the Abita Stumps and Amadee Frederick. The Abita Opry will stage its monthly show Saturday night with an entirely different lineup from the Water Festival’s.
Also, the usual Sunday farmer’s market will be buttressed by several additional craft and food vendors.
And for real fun, Mayor Greg Lemons will be the target in the dunking booth run by the local Girls Scouts.
“It’s a great day to visit with your neighbors,” Randolph said. “And we’re always welcoming to our visitors, too.”