Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weekend Events in Ruston-Lincoln Parish!

Thursday, November 28 – Sunday, December 1

Happy Hump Day! The Ruston Lincoln CVB hopes everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving! Here's what's happening in Ruston and Lincoln Parish this holiday weekend.

Tired of being cooped up in the house? 
The theatre will be open Thanksgiving Day! 

Lady Techsters vs. New Orleans
Get out and support the Lady Techsters as
they take on the New Orleans Privateers!
6:30pm at the Thomas Assemble Center
                                                                                                                                                                    Ruston Farmer’s Market
Buy local and keep our community thriving!
Check out the farmer's market website to
view what the vendors will be offering.

Small Business Saturday
This is the ultimate shopping weekend!
Get out and support your local merchants!

Holiday Farm & Art Market
Come check out the holiday gift ideas, arts 
and crafts, vegetables, canned goods and 
baked goods at Briarhill Farms!

Big Dog Ultra Trail Run
Ouachita Valley Road Runners are hosting this 
50K/20M/10M/5M! Entry fees apply, check out
the website for registration information.
8:00am in Lincoln Parish Park

Live Music at Sundown Tavern
Grab your friends and head out to Sundown
to hear Good Moanin'! 

For a complete list of events, visit
Have an event you'd like to feature? Give us a shout at (318) 255-2031.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lewis & Company – Past and Present

   Lewis & Company has a superior record of 148 years of uninterrupted operation. Older than Ruston itself, the firm was organized at Trenton, Louisiana (present day West Monroe), on the banks for the Ouachita River in 1865 under the name of "Kidd & Lewis." The founders and original stockholders were W.A.J. Lewis, L.M. Kidd and M.B. Kidd. Today, it is believed to be the oldest continuously operating family owned and operated retail business in North Louisiana! 

Both the Kidd and Lewis families were originally from Virginia. Following the traditional migration southward by moving to North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, they finally arrived at Vernon, Louisiana (Jackson Parish) in 1858.
Founder of Lewis & Company
W.A.J. Lewis

In 1861 business was interrupted by the Civil War. At the end of the war, they went to Trenton and established a furnishing store, handling everything of a general mercantile nature, food, wagons, farm supplies, and firearms, nearly everything that was needed by the growing agriculturally oriented community. Merchandise was received by river boat primarily from St. Louis and New Orleans. Trenton, at that time, was a thriving little river port and served as a forwarding point for shipment by ox wagons to such inland towns as Winnfield, Vienna, Homer and Athens.

 The firm moved to Ruston at the town’s beginning in the fall of  1883, and business was interrupted only long enough for the  stock and counters to be moved by wagons from Trenton to a  wood frame building in Ruston, which served until a new brick  building could be constructed on present day Park Ave. The store in now located on North Vienna Street.

An interesting story is how the original lots were allotted to the new business establishments coming into Ruston. The choice lots were considered to be those facing the railroad and park. The merchants who would agree to construct buildings of brick were given the privilege of purchasing one of these lots. The location of the lot was determined by  the drawing of numbers from a hat. For many years the row of  stores facing the park was referred to as “brick row.”

Front of main store before remodel.
The years following the turn of the century dictated and saw many changes in the physical operation of the business. The crisis resulting from the advent of the boll weevil, which destroyed the cotton crop in 1913, caused a major change in the business from a general store type of operation to one specializing more in the supplying of the clothing needs of the family. Mr. William A.J. Lewis, the founder, died in 1916 and his son, William J Lewis, took over to guide the store through the many problems that plagued the community as a result of the panic after World War I, the great depression of the 1930’s and the shortages of World War II.

Grand Opening after a remodel.
May 30, 1958

For almost 90 years, Lewis & Company and the family continued to serve the community until January of 2005 when the family announced that they would be closing their doors. Competition with national chains and regional shopping centers was making life very difficult for many locally owned retailers. However, owners William Lewis and Richard Lewis quickly realized to exist in a small town, they should “young up” their department store by downsizing it into a specialty boutique and better serve consumers. And what a fantastic idea it was! This year Lewis & Company celebrated 148 years of uninterrupted operation!

Lewis & Company
110 North Vienna Street - Ruston, LA
Still with trends quickly changing and internet sales booming, all retailers are finding it hard to rely solely on their brick and mortar. Savvy businessmen Richard and William Lewis recognize this and are ready to change with the times, with a little help from “the girls.” Rebecca M. Lewis and Lindsey Lewis, representing the fifth generation, launched Lewis & Company’s Facebook boutique Lemons & Limes in April 2013. Check out their selection here. All items are $50 and under!

So currently in the hands of the fourth generation and the fifth spearheading online sales, Lewis & Company continues to thrive by successfully meeting the needs of a constantly changing society. 

Vera Bradley

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Lewis & Company offers gifts for every lady on your list! Don’t forget the importance of shopping local and keeping your dollars in your community! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Weekend Events in Ruston-Lincoln Parish!

Friday, November 22 – Sunday, November 24 

Good morning everyone and HAPPY FRIDAY! We have lots of things going on in the area this weekend and Downtown Ruston will be booming with holiday excitement!

Begin your holiday gift buying in the many specialty stores located throughout historic downtown! In addition, Ruston Main Street will create a full Christmas experience with holiday music throughout the park and decorations covering Main Street.  And don’t forget about photos with Santa!

If you miss Jessica Slaughter’s guest blog last week, check it out here.

Friday 4-8pm
Artists on site to mix and mingle with shoppers
Free musical performances in 7 locations
Round-robin poetry reading at 6pm

Saturday 11am-5pm
All day shopping downtown with artist on-site
Assorted artists’ demos in select locations

Sunday 1-4pm
Free Sprout Sunday children’s art activities
Free Community Variety Show at 4:30pm

Buy local and keep our community thriving! This Saturday is the annual Giving Thanks Festival, from 8am-12pm. 

Bring the whole family out to shake your sillies out and move and groove in this new music and movement program!
2pm at the Lincoln Parish Library

1pm at the Thomas Assembly Center

6pm at Joe Aillet Stadium

For a complete list of events visit!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Think Big & Shop Small this Saturday

The holiday season is upon us! (Where did this year go?!) The weather is starting to cool, store fronts are decorated and soon Downtown Ruston will be filled with festivities for the season. As you start your Christmas shopping, consider how you can support your neighborhood and in return, find the unique items and must-haves for everyone on your list. 

Saturday, November 29th is Small Business Saturday. Not that anyone needs a special day to shop local, but it's great to have a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday that positively affects the area. By recycling revenue back into our local economy, we encourage innovation and prosperity and enrich the entire community!

Follow the Ruston Lincoln Parish CVB on Twitter! Spread the love by using the hashtags #ShopSmall, #ShopLocal and #RustonLA to show us where you like to shop! 

1. Buy Local & Support Yourself: Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned business, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms-- continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.

2. Support Community Groups: Non-profit organizations receive an average of 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

3. Keep Our Community Unique: Where we shop, where we eat and have fun-- all of it makes our community home. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of this place. Our tourism businesses also benefit.

4. Reduce Environmental Impact: Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.

5. Create More Jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, provide the most jobs to residents.

6. Get Better Service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.

7. Invest in the Community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.

8. Put Your Tax Dollars to Good Use: Local businesses in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.

9. Buy What You Want: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

10. Encourage Local Prosperity: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

 Tell us about your adventures in #RustonLA!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

16th Annual Holiday Arts Tour - November 21-24

The Ruston Lincoln Parish CVB is happy to have Jessica Slaughter on our blog today! Jessica is the Executive Director of the North Central Louisiana Arts Council and is going to tell us more about the the Holiday Arts Tour coming up November 21-24 in Downtown Ruston.

This year is the 16th annual Holiday Arts Tour for NCLAC, and we have a wonderful year lined up. I’ll start our “HAT web tour” at the Dixie Center for the Arts, corner of Alabama and North Vienna in downtown Ruston, where the Tour itself will begin on November 21-24. Tour-goers should make their first stop at the DCA to view the group exhibition, sponsored by Landry Vineyards, featuring each of the participating Holiday Arts Tour artists. You’ll be able to see the well-crafted variety of works available, from calligraphy to photography, handmade books to oil paintings, soaps to wood-turned jewelry.

In addition to the exhibition at the Dixie Center, there will also be a voting box for the People’s Choice Winner. In an effort to reward our talented artists, we will be offering two awards this year: Juror’s Choice and People’s Choice. Upon looking at the Dixie Center exhibition, and/or after making stops at each Tour site, be sure to cast your vote for your favorite artist. Awards will be announced at the end-of-Tour artists’ party on Saturday.

The Tour will begin again this year on Thursday, in partnership with the City of Ruston’s Main Street Christmas Open House. Artwork will be on display for special Open House hours of 5-8pm. Stop in and visit with merchants and get a jump on the weekend.

Friday’s Tour hours will be 4-8, so you’ll have time to head downtown after work. At the Dixie Center, Landry Vineyards, north Louisiana’s own vineyard and winery, will be holding a wine tasting. Artists will be on site in each Holiday Arts Tour location, ready to chat about their work. From 5-8pm at seven downtown Tour sites, musicians will be performing for visitors. These will be small ensembles who perform short sets so that you may talk with them about their music. At Pastry Moon, there will also be a round-robin style Poetry Reading at 6pm.

Saturday will be the big shopping day, with artists present in each of the Tour sites from 11-5. Many will be offering demonstrations, such as screen printing, spinning, flint napping, and calligraphy. Holiday Arts Tour is really a special event, as it gives you a unique opportunity in a relaxed setting to see and hear about art processes that may be unfamiliar.

Sunday will be a special day for the family. Three studios will be offering Sprout Sunday activities, which are free art projects for children. Stitchville, Brush Hour and Pastry Moon will each offer a unique activity for Tour-goers from 1-4pm. When Tour hours end, head over to the Dixie Center for the Arts for a free Community Variety Show at 4:30. Dancing, singing, theatre and more will be on the Dixie Center stage as a perfect ending to a big extended weekend. This is your perfect opportunity to check out the beautiful Dixie Center Theatre if you haven’t been in in a while.

Artwork from the Tour will make wonderful gifts; how much better to spend your holiday shopping money in locally owned businesses?!

Here is this year's route:Makers Union, featuring Jake Dugard and Joey Slaughter. Screenprinting demonstration on Saturday.

Kelly Moore Bag, featuring Nicole Duet and Stephanie Dugard. Olsen String Trio on Friday.

Serendipity, featuring Leigh Buffington. Grace Notes Quartet on Friday.

Lewis Boutique, featuring Christiane Drieling.

Chartreuse Pear, featuring Dorene Kordal.

Embellishments, featuring Suzy Berry and Shannan Inman. Calligraphy demonstration.

The Frame Up, featuring Hooshang Khorasani.

House of Flowers and the Cake Shoppe, featuring Julie Crews and Casey Parkinson.

Sundown Tavern, featuring Todd Cloe and Emily Ezell. Ken Carter Quartet on Friday.

The Fabric Shop, featuring an embroidery class on Thursday and a quilting class on Saturday.

Rodeo Boutique, featuring Whitney Caskey

Patton’s Downtown, featuring Allen Tuten and Geri Taylor. Cain Budds on Friday.

Rogers Furniture and Gifts, featuring Cindy Gibson and Julie Roane.

Fine Line Art Supply and Stitchville, featuring MC Davis and Frank Hamrick. Elizabeth Vidos on Friday.

Pastry Moon, featuring Bonnie Ferguson, Lora Lee and Frank Kelley, Jr. Poetry Reading on Friday.

Rumo’s Barber Shop, featuring Rachel Johnston. Bethany Raybourn on Friday. Spinning demo on Saturday.

Turbo Goat, featuring Peter Hay.

The Lodge, featuring Sonny Monteleone. Fred Beavers and Sara Sullivan on Friday.

Studio 301, featuring work by Kit Gilbert.

Art Innovations, featuring an on-site art installation.

Percussive Arts Institute of Ruston, featuring sculpture created during a collaborative workshop.

Townsend House Gifts, featuring Laura Glen Lawson and Michelle McGeehee.
NCLAC’s Holiday Arts Tour is supported in part by a grant from Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Louisiana Military Museum | Ruston, LA

Veterans Day - Monday, November 11th

Although we are thankful every day for their dedication and sacrifices, this is the time of year we all think about the service men and women who have fought for this country. With Veterans Day just around for corner, let’s take a moment to also celebrate a local treasure, the Louisiana Military Museum.

Since November 11, 1995, the Louisiana Military Museum has been reliving 150 years of military history through the lives of local heroes and unknown enemies. The museum is home to approximately 10,000 artifacts and showcases U.S. conflicts from the Civil War all the way to the Afghanistan War.

The exhibits are unique to the area and feature an expansive weapons collection, flags, training gear and apparel, as well as personal items like diaries, letters and Bibles. Outside the museum you’ll also find aircraft and vehicles from almost every conflict in American history. Museum Director Ernie Stevens is quite knowledgeable of, not only the wars, but of every artifact on display.         

Iraqi Redayeen
The helmet design is a copy of the
Darth Vader helmet from Star Wars.
I had the pleasure of visiting the museum this past month with a group of travel writers. I had not been there in a couple of years and didn’t realize what I'd missed. I’m a bit of a history enthusiast and enjoyed a good two hours browsing the displays. (I’ll also tell you now, two hours wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything.) World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars are particularly well represented. And the machine gun display is also a must see for any military history buff. 

I was unusually excited by the variety of military-issued gas masks. I’ve always found them strangely fascinating.

Iraqi Gas Mask
Copy of a
U.S. M-9 gas mask

I also found this photo of a gentleman from my hometown. Private Robert H. Scott, 8th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry from Winnsboro, LA.
Side note: Does anyone else see the John Cusack resemblance?

Caption reads: Pvt. Robert H. Scott, Winnsboro, Louisiana,
Co. E (Franklin Sharpshooters) 8th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry, C.S.A.
(Image courtesy Mark Hadley, Capt. Leon Polk Camp
Sons of Confederate Veterans, Bastrop, La.)
Have you been to the museum lately? These displays are a standing honor to those who served our country. They are here for us to appreciate and are important in the fight to keep history alive.

If you’d like more information on the museum, visit their website or call (318) 251-5099. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. and admission is free. It’s located at 201 Memorial Drive in Ruston. Stop by and see Ernie and spend some time exploring one of Ruston’s hidden treasures.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about Louisiana in war history, check out articles from Dr. Terry Jones in Louisiana Road Trips

Amanda Quimby is a native of Franklin Parish, a University of Louisiana at Monroe alumna and now a proud Ruston resident. As the marketing director for the CVB, she has an love for travel and tourism, and the coolest job ever. Amanda’s favorite things: coffee, wine and swing jazz. When she’s not working, ...just kidding. She’s always working. Follow her on Instagam and Twitter.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tourism Development Grants Available

We all love our town and want to see it thrive. Have you ever had an idea that could improve Ruston - Lincoln Parish, but didn't know where to start? The Ruston Lincoln Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau is ready to create partnerships and draw visitors into the area!

The Ruston Lincoln Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau is now accepting applications for the 2014 Tourism Development Grant ProgramThis program is a matching grants program geared toward generating increased travel and overnight visits to the area by assisting with the growth and promotion of the events. To be considered for funding under the program, projects must target markets beyond the local area and demonstrate the potential to make or have a record of making an economic impact in Ruston and Lincoln Parish. 
“These matching grant dollars can provide vital assistance to our local organizations to bring tourism dollars to our community,” said CVB President/CEO Travis Napper.
There have been a few updates to the application process. Groups and organizations who have received grants in the past will need to make an appointment to pick up an application and review new guidelines. First time applicants will need to first attend the Tourism Development Grant workshop and follow up with a one-on-one appointment to go over the application prior to be eligible to receive the grant. 

The workshop will be held on November 12th at 10:00 a.m. at the CVB, located at 2111 North Trenton Street.
“Our end goal is to create a cycle of new events that need help getting started, and grow them into successful, self-sustainable events. As those events become self-sustainable, we’ll be able to assist with new projects, continually adding to the quality of life of our community and truly showcasing what this area has to offer to visitors,” says Travis. 
Travis says the CVB has increased its grant budget for 2014 to encourage new applicants and provide more opportunities. During 2013, the CVB awarded numerous grants to various tourism related projects. Those funds were used to support a variety of events such races, tournaments, rodeos and festivals. 

Applications must be submitted to the Ruston Lincoln Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau no later than December 9, 2013. If there are any remaining funds, grants will be offered throughout the year as new partnership opportunities arise, but will be on a first-come, first served basis.

For questions or to set up a one-on-one appointment with Travis Napper or Amanda Quimby, please call 318-255-2031.