Monday, November 28, 2016

Tori’s Travels: Saying Goodbye

Dear Ruston,

Even though I’ve only called you home for the last year and a half of my life, I feel like I’ve been part of your community for years. I can’t express how thankful I am that you welcomed me with open arms when I moved here last summer.

Coming from a larger city, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect of this “small town.” But after a short time here, I realized that you are the epitome of a charming, Southern college town. In just a few days, I’ll be packing up my car and heading off to my next adventure; however, your unique charm and spirit will stay with me long after I leave.

As I prepare to move, I can’t help but think back on all the fun memories I’ve made in my time here. I’ve cheered on the Bulldogs at the Joe, enjoyed countless meals on the Sundown patio, and spent numerous afternoons soaking up the sun in Lincoln Parish Park. I’ve sung along to live music at The Revelry, eaten my weight in peach ice cream at Mitcham’s, and walked the charming streets of Downtown Ruston more times than I can count. These experiences and so many more have made this past year one of the best and most fun years of my life. 

Thanks for all the memories, Ruston!

If the priceless memories weren’t enough, you also provided me with the most amazing people to call neighbors, colleagues, mentors, and friends. I have truly never met more warm or welcoming people than Rustonites. I’m pretty much convinced there’s something in the peaches that makes your people just downright pleasant. To everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my time here, thank you for your kindness and hospitality.

More than anything, I just want to say thank you, Ruston. Thank you for being calm, yet exciting. Thank you for all the breathtaking sunsets and starry nights. Thank you for the food, music, and art that give this town its incredible and unique culture. Above all else, thank you for giving me a year and a half of my life that I will truly never forget. I’ll be seeing you soon!


Tori Ward 

Tori is a proud Louisiana native and social media nerd. She has a passion for travel, food, and all things related to tourism promotions. Tori is an avid movie watcher, coffee fanatic, and lover of the outdoors. Still want to know more? Head over to her website.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Experience Ruston's Holiday Arts Tour

Written by Tori Ward, Marketing/PR Assistant 

Ruston's holiday festivities will be kicking off this year on the first weekend of December, with the always-popular Holiday Arts Tour taking place on December 2-3 in Downtown Ruston! Holiday Arts Tour is one of Ruston's most beloved and celebrated holiday events. Named one of the STS Top 20 Events in December by Southeast Tourism Society, this unique holiday art crawl is a must-attend event in Ruston, La. 

Holiday Arts Tour is a great event for the entire family

Holiday Arts Tour spotlights Ruston’s art community by showcasing artists and their works in 30 local shops, restaurants, and other various businesses. Hosted by the North Central Louisiana Arts Council (NCLAC), this two-day event also features artists’ demonstrations, children's art activities, and live musical and theatrical performances. With more than 1,000 people in attendance in 2015, the event only continues to grow and bring together the arts and the local business community. 

“We love offering Holiday Arts Tour to our region each year, and are excited for more people to come experience the talented artists in North Louisiana,” 
said Jessica Slaughter, Executive of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council.  

Live theatrical performances in Downtown Ruston during Holiday Arts Tour

On Friday from 5-9pm and on Saturday from 10am-5pm, visual artists will be in the stores to meet shoppers. Additional exciting elements for the weekend include Sprout Hour for children, an Art Battle at Railroad Park, performing artists on both evenings, and demonstrations by artists. The full schedule of events is featured below and can also be found here

Holiday Arts Tour 2016 schedule 

We hope to see you in Downtown Ruston on the first weekend of December for the Holiday Arts Tour and more exciting holiday events! For more info on Holiday Arts Tour, visit, and for more info on Ruston's holiday events click here

Tori is a proud Louisiana native and social media nerd. She has a passion for travel, food, and all things related to tourism promotions. Tori is an avid movie watcher, coffee fanatic, and lover of the outdoors. Still want to know more? Head over to her website

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Holiday Events in Ruston, LA

Written by Amanda Quimby, Marketing Director 

We're excited about this year's holiday calendar! Ruston, LA has events happening all season long to keep you in the Christmas spirit. Experience abundant shopping opportunities, ice skating in Downtown Ruston, drive-thru Christmas lights and so much more!    

Nov. 10-12 - Holidays in CedarTown
Christmas shopping gets kicked off with North Louisiana’s premier holiday shopping market! Knock out your gift list or pick up some decorations for the home. Special events include a Brunch Blitz, Holiday After Hours, Jingles and Jammies. 
Ruston Civic Center | Ticket & admission prices vary

Nov. 17-19 - “Shop for Good” Downtown Christmas Open House
In the spirit of giving, downtown merchants have gathered together again this year to support local nonprofit organizations! During this time you can take advantage of extended shopping hours and seasonal sales with a portion of the proceeds going to a charitable cause.   
Downtown Ruston | 5-8PM

Nov. 25-27 - Big Creek Trade Days
Check out this marketplace for unique gifts! Event features hundreds of vendors in one location, and even a “man cave” for the gentlemen to relax while their ladies browse. $5 for parking.
Dubach | 9AM-4PM

Nov. 26 - Shop Small in Ruston
Don’t forgot to shop small this holiday season! Small Business Saturday beginning at 10AM, the CVB will be in Downtown Ruston with coffee and breakfast snacks and giving away Shop Small tote bags to the first 200 customers! Supplies are limited so get shopping early!
Downtown Ruston | Business hours vary

Dec. 1 - Kickoff to Christmas
Watch as Downtown Ruston comes alive with the sights and sounds of Christmas! The lighting ceremony will be at 6PM sharp then stick around for music, festivities, late shopping hours and ice skating!
Downtown Ruston | 6-8PM

Dec. 1-3 - Lincoln Lights Up the Pines
You won’t want to miss Ruston’s premier drive-thru Christmas lights display though beautiful Lincoln Parish Park! This year is certain to be bigger and better than the last with hundreds of new lights!
Lincoln Parish Park | 5:30-8:30PM

Dec. 1-4 - “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Relive this holiday classic! Ruston Community Theatre tells the story of George Bailey, a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman, being shown by an angel what life would have been like had he never existed. Tickets can be purchased at the Dixie box office - $12 for adults, $6 for students. 
Dixie Center for the Arts | 7PM Thurs-Sat, 2PM Sunday

Dec. 1, 3, 10 & 17 - Santa in Downtown Ruston
Don’t forget to tell Santa what you want this year! Santa will be at the skating rink located in the Historic Fire Station parking lot during Ruston’s Kickoff to Christmas on Dec. 1 from 6-9PM and every Saturday before Christmas Eve!
Downtown Ruston | 10AM-2PM  

Dec. 1-30 - Ice Skating in Downtown Ruston
Ice skating is back! What better way to enjoy the season and Downtown Ruston than skating in Ruston’s own artificial ice rink! The rink will be located in the parking lot of the Historic Fire Station. Sessions are 45 minutes and costs $10 per person.
Downtown Ruston | Mon-Fri 4-9PM, Sat 10AM-9PM, Sun 1-9PM

Dec. 2-3 - Holiday Arts Tour
This holiday art crawl features unique shopping opportunities, live music, street theatre, children’s activities, demonstrations and more! Get out and celebrate the arts and shopping local in Downtown Ruston!
Downtown Ruston | Fri 5-9PM, Sat 10AM-5PM

Dec 5-17 - 12 Days of Christmas Shopping
Shop local this holiday season for chances to win cash prizes and more! Stop by the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce or any participating retailers to pick up your shopping passport. Fill up the passport to win prizes!

Dec. 6-31 - Bank of Ruston Holiday Art Exhibit
Stop by to enjoy works from the A Sense of Place: Contemporary Images of Lincoln Parish at Bank of Ruston’s 13 Annual Holiday Art Exhibit. Exhibit kicks off with an open reception Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 5-7PM, and the photographs will be on display throughout the month during regular business hours.
Bank of Ruston | Mon-Fri 9AM-5PM

Dec. 8 - Ruston Christmas Parade
Another event you won’t want to miss – the annual Christmas parade! This year’s theme is White Christmas. Bundle up and bring the family out to enjoy the festive floats, beautiful lights, and of course, candy for all! Parade starts at the Thomas Assembly Center and runs through Downtown Ruston.
TAC - Downtown Ruston | 6PM

Dec. 9 - Winterfest
Come out to Railroad Park to hear area school choirs sing Christmas carols for the community! Concert is free and open to the public!
Downtown Ruston | 6PM

Dec. 9-11 - Big Creek Trade Days
It's your last chance to shop this marketplace for Christmas gifts! Find unique items for friends and family or a few goodies for yourself! $5 for parking.
Dubach | 9AM-4PM

Dec. 16 - Russ-Town Band Christmas Concert
Certain to boost your holiday spirit is the Russ-Town Band performing your favorite Christmas tunes on the Dixie stage! Admission is a nonperishable food item or a toy donation for Toys for Tots!
Dixie Center for the Arts | 7PM

Dec. 17 - Cookies with Mrs. Clause

Come join the fun and decorate cookies with Mrs. Clause! Little one will also have a chance to visit with Santa and receive a photo! $25 per child, proceeds benefit Samaritan's Purse.
Social Bites of Ruston | 10AM &11:30AM

Dec. 17 - Dixie Dancers Christmas Program
Watch as the always-delightful Dixie Dancers take the stage for their annual Christmas performance! This event is open to the public with donations for the Dixie Center for the Arts accepted.
Dixie Center for the Arts | 7PM

For more information on these events and more, visit

Full time destination marketer, part time gardener. Amanda has a love for travel and tourism, event planning and showcasing #RustonLA. She’s also very serious about coffee, cocktails, true crime novels and The Walking Dead. Follow her on Instagam to see mostly pics of food, wine and inspirational quotes. 

“Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Seafood Gumbo Recipe

Nothing compares to the flavors of Louisiana cooking, especially when seafood is involved. As we come to the end of National Seafood Month, we want to leave you with one of our favorite recipes for Louisiana Seafood Gumbo. Bon app├ętit! 

Photo credit: George Graham (

Recipe by: George Graham -

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Serves: 6

1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
12 cups shrimp stock
4 bay leaves
4 gumbo crabs, cracked and quartered
3 pounds large raw Louisiana Gulf shrimp, peeled
1 pint raw Louisiana oysters, with juice
1 pound white Louisiana crabmeat
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cajun seasoning
Dash of hot sauce
Gumbo file’
6 cups cooked Louisiana long grain white rice, such as Supreme
1 cup diced green onion tops

  1. That’s right, first you make a roux. Over medium-high heat, combine the oil and flour in a black iron pot or heavy dutch oven. Begin stirring and don’t stop until you reach a peanut butter colored roux. You will smell it as it cooks, and it is a nutty aroma you seek that is perfect for a seafood gumbo. Darker roux is for heavier wild game dishes so don’t go too far past this point.
  2. Stop the roux from cooking by adding the onions, celery, and bell pepper. Continue stirring until the vegetables turn translucent and then add the garlic. Combine all the vegetables and then add the stock along with the bay leaves and the gumbo crabs. Bring the liquid to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 1 hour. Check it and give it a stir every 15 minutes and be sure to skim off any fat or foam from the surface.
  3. The key to this gumbo is not to overcook the seafood. You can stage the base gumbo to this point and hold it there indefinitely. Actually, it gets even better the longer it sits. When you are ready to serve it up, add the shrimp, oysters, and crabmeat and cook until the largest shrimp are done, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper along with a light hand on the Cajun seasoning. Don’t over season seafood gumbo. Your guests can always add their own hot sauce and gumbo file’ at the table.
  4. Ladle the gumbo around a mound of rice and garnish with a sprinkle of diced green onion tops. Ice-cold beer and hot French bread are a given.
Photo credit: George Graham (
Find the original recipe post for this Seafood Gumbo here, and check out our Louisiana Cooking Pinterest Board for more yummy recipes like these! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Most Share-Worthy Spots in Lincoln Parish

Written by Tori Ward, Marketing/PR Assistant

Between charming downtown streets, scenic views, and iconic Louisiana landmarks, Ruston & Lincoln Parish has several spots that lend themselves to being photographed and shared. Next time you find yourself in the area, be sure to snap a photo at one of these spots and share it on social media!

1. The Dixie Theatre

Built in 1928, The Dixie is a Ruston landmark. You can’t pass through Downtown Ruston without noticing its brightly lit marquee adorned with the famous flashing star on top. While the attached courtyard is perfect for daytime photos, the Dixie's iconic sign makes for a great shot at night. 

2. Lady of the Mist 

Photo via Instagram @rthhan
The Lady of the Mist is one of the most beloved and recognizable landmarks on Louisiana Tech University's Campus. The fountain is located in the Quad and symbolizes "Alma Mater," welcoming new students and bidding farewell to graduates. The Lady of the Mist is super photogenic, so be sure you get a photo with her when you're in the area. 

3. Mitcham Farms Peach Store and Orchard

Photo via Instagram @codyalbritton
The Mitcham Farms Peach Orchard is the site where Ruston Peaches are grown, processed, and sold. Mitcham's Peach Store has become a must-visit location in Ruston, where you can get homemade peach ice cream & more peachy products. The Mitcham Farms sign on the processing shed has become quite the spot to snap a photo during a visit to the orchard or Peach Store. 

4. The Piers at Lincoln Parish Park 

Photo via Instagram @raeshirl
Lincoln Parish Park has numerous scenic views that are downright picture perfect. While the park offers several different photo ops, people love taking and sharing photos from the piers on the park's lake. Complete with a sunset through the trees, it's hard not to share something this pretty!

5. The Ruston Farmers Market Mural

Photo via Instagram @bringthestew
The new Ruston Farmers Market building has quickly become one of the most share-worthy spots in the area. The beautiful mural, painted by LA Tech art students, is the perfect place to snap a fun photo. 

6. Fountain at Railroad Park

Photo via Instagram @therealjoshmac
Nestled in the heart of charming Downtown Ruston, Railroad Park is an ideal location to take photos. In February 2016, the original, historic fountain was brought back to Railroad Park, making it an even more appealing spot to snap a pic. 

7. Architecture at Huckleberry Trails Park

Photo via Instagram @ cassidyakeim
This amazing metal structure is located in Huckleberry Trails Park and was built to serve as an outdoor classroom for a local elementary school. The piece was designed and built by LA Tech architecture students. This structure is definitely one of the most unique and share-worthy spots in Ruston. 

8. Dubach's Dog Trot Welcome Center 

Photo via Instagram @ razorturf
Known as the Dog Trot Capital of the World, Dubach, LA offers several unique photo ops. Take a step back in time as you visit the Dog Trot Welcome Center in Downtown Dubach, which is one of two dog trot houses in the area. Be sure to snap and share your photos!

9. Eddie the Fighting Tiger 

Photo via Instagram @ giftedandsmart
This 17-foot tiger statue is located on the Grambling State University campus. Students named the tiger Eddie, presumably after Eddie G. Robinson, the university’s legendary head football coach. The ferocious sculpture has quickly become a prime place to pose and take a photo. 

10. The Carriageway

Photo via Instagram @ julian_jones
The Carriageway is a whimsical breezeway in Downtown Ruston that runs along the side of The Fashion and Chartreuse Pear. With twinkling lights, exposed brick walls, and delicate tables and chairs, The Carriageway provides a quaint and rustic backdrop to any photo. Strike a pose, snap a pic, and share this charming scene. 

We hope you enjoy these share-worthy spots in Ruston & Lincoln Parish. Don't forget to use the hashtag #RustonLA when posting photos on social media so we can see and share your Ruston photos! 

Tori is a proud Louisiana native and social media nerd. She has a passion for travel, food, and all things related to tourism promotions. Tori is an avid movie watcher, coffee fanatic, and lover of the outdoors. Still want to know more? Head over to her website