Dig Baton Rouge

Palooza Time

By Tara Bennett

Get ready to party Baton Rouge. It is almost time for the annual Laurel Street Palooza, and organizers at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge are pulling out all the stops. Think live bands, food, art and plenty of fun all in one night. In fact, there is something for every particular Friday night craving.

“People tell us every year this is their favorite event to come to,” said the Council’s Projects and Technology Director Sandy Parfait. “We encourage people to buy their tickets early.”

This Friday, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., downtown Laurel Street at the Arts Council (in the Old Bogan Fire Station) and in the Chase Bank Building will feature a street party, silent auction, food, music and special secret entertainment. In the past the Baton Rouge flash mob, flash opera, marching bands and even the Batmobile have shown up.

“We try to do something fun each year, and it’s always a bit of a surprise,” said Parfait. “We like to encourage people to come out and see what we’ll have happen this year.”

For the community lovers

Each year, Laurel Street Palooza honors two community leaders as King and Queen Palooza for their ongoing commitment and dedication to the arts. This year’s King and Queen are Cornelius Lewis and Ava Haymon.

Lewis has been a longtime advocate of the arts and helped with the formation of the Louisiana Forum for the Arts to bring world-renowned jazz artists to New Orleans and Baton Rouge to perform accompanied by local jazz players. Lewis was also a founding member of the River City Jazz Coalition, and is still active with the board.

Haymon is the current Louisiana Poet Laureate, teaches poetry writing in Baton Rouge and has had several plays produced by the Playmakers of Baton Rouge. Her poems have appeared in journals nationwide and in four collections, The Strict Economy of Fire, Why the House Is Made of Gingerbread, Kitchen Heat, and Eldest Daughter, all from LSU Press.

“They have done so much for us in the community,” said Parfait.

For the artistically inclined

The silent auction hosts a wide variety of items including art pieces donated by Arts Market artists as well as gift certificates, handmade crafts, tickets to cultural events and other big ticket items.

For the concert junkies

No block party is legit without the blessing of live music. The stage is set to host Michael Foster Project (brass band/jazz), Ben Bell and the Stardust Boys (rockabilly), Artemis (popular), and Kirk Holder (guitarist/vocalist).

“They’re all really fun bands,” said Parfait. “Everyone loves to dance and sing along with them and listen to the music.”

For the foodies

The full menu of food vendors is still continuing to grow, but some of the offerings include Jimmy John’s, Lucy’s Retired Surfer’s Bar, among others.

This will be the event’s 15th year, and all proceeds go toward benefitting the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, which provides arts education and supports artists and arts organizations in the Capital Region.

“This is our only fundraiser that we have,” said Parfait. “It’s a way for us to raise money in order to continue to give back to our community.”

Tickets for the night are $40.00 per person in advance or at the door for $45.00. For more information, call 225-344-8558.

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