The Town of Jean Lafitte has a new museum, Lafitte’s Barataria Museum & Wetland Trace.

Opened April 6, the 6,000-square-foot wildlife and fisheries museum tells the 200-year-old story of the Town of Jean Lafitte, a historic fishing village 20 miles southwest of New Orleans.

The museum features a multi-media theater presentation, an animated museum exhibition and a nature study trail. Visitors learn about the life of pirate Jean Lafitte, the stories and folk traditions of wetland dwellers and the realities of coastal erosion and natural and man-made disasters, a news release said.

State-of-the-art animatronic figures include a talking alligator as well as a surprise guest who is in search of “the golden thimble.” At the end of the exhibit is a mile-and-half cypress swamp trail leading to a bayou, rookery and marsh area, filled with alligators, snakes, spiders and exotic birds.

The exhibits in the museum come from the former Louisiana Marine Fisheries Museum, the Louisiana Secretary of State, the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Collection from the original Louisiana State Museum in the French Quarter and the Town of Jean Lafitte’s special historical collection.

The museum is located in the Leo Kerner Multipurpose Complex, 4917 City Park Drive.


Museum hours change

The Capitol Park Museum, a Louisiana State Museum, now opens at 9 am.

Museum hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The museum, 660 N 4th St. in Baton Rouge, is closed Sunday, Monday and on state holidays.

Admission is free.


History day set

A living history day is planned for 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Chalmette Battlefield, part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, 8606 W. St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette.

Battle of New Orleans “troops” will be on the battlefield, while women in period dress will greet visitors to the historic Malu-Beauregard House.

The Louisiane Vintage Dance Troupe will demonstrate and teach dances from the period from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is free.

For more information, call (504) 281-0510 or visit the website.


Race season starting

Evangeline Downs’ 2013 thoroughbred-racing season takes off Wednesday, April 17.

The 84-day meet runs through Sept. 7.

This will be the first racing season for Evangeline under the ownership of Boyd Gaming, which purchased the track and casino late last year. Boyd Gaming also owns Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel in Vinton.

As a part of the season opening activities, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron and Dave Johnson, nationally known track announcer, will meet horse racing fans Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20.

Racing will take place Wednesdays through Saturdays; first post time of the night is at 5:40 p.m.

The Opelousas-based facility offers a one-mile oval, 7?8-mile turf course, a 11?8-mile chute and nearly 1,000 stalls on the backside. The entire property consists of nearly 750 acres.

For more information call (337) 594-3000 or go to the website.


ZooMobile at park

Audubon Institutes’ ZooMobile will be at Fairview-Riverside State Park near Madisonville at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27.

Audubon staff will present an interactive program, suitable for all ages, that will focus on animals that are endangered and reasons they are.

The park is located one mile east of Madisonville on La. 22 in St. Tammany Parish. The program is free with park admission of $1 per person ages 4-61; seniors 62 and older and children 3 and under are admitted free of charge. The site includes camping, a day-use picnic area on the banks of the Tchefuncte River, and Otis House Museum.

For more information call (985) 792-4652 or (888) 677-3247.

Festival continues today

The Melrose Plantation Arts and Crafts Festival runs 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, April 14.

The plantation, 3533 La. 119 in Melrose, 14 miles south of Natchitoches, is hosting more than 100 vendors on the plantation grounds.

Admission is $5. Guided tours of are available for an additional charge.

All funds raised will be used for the continued preservation and maintenance of the plantation.

Art in Lake Charles

A Spring Art Walk is planned for 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday, April 26, in downtown Lake Charles.

Presented by the Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana, the event will have cafes, bars, restaurants and vacant buildings transformed into art galleries for the evening.

There will also be a Spring Art Walk Battle in which teams of artists will compete live in front of the crowd to create a mural in only an hour. Visitors will decide which mural will not only win the contest but also become public art.


Louisiana Travels is a biweekly column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to or or mail to Judy Bergeron, News Features assistant editor, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810.