I have just returned from a week in Shreveport, Louisiana, where I attended my first meeting of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
My first question was “Why Shreveport?” I would ask the same question if they had scheduled their meeting in Columbia, South Carolina. Why would a national organization of travel journalists gather on the Red River in Northern Louisiana when they could have met in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami or Charleston? When I tell you that next year’s meeting is in Huntsville, Alabama, you might really be scratching your head.
After almost a week of being wined and dined by our host city, I am a fan of Shreveport. It may take me a couple of blog posts to say all I want to say—lots of good food, second largest Mardi Gras in North America, America’s Black Rodeo finals, “World’s Smallest Adult Entertainer”—too much to tell in a short paragraph or two.
On the negative side, out-of-the-way destinations cost more to get to than major hubs. The month before, I paid $270 for round trip airfare from Columbia, SC to San Antonio, TX. The trip to Shreveport, on the other hand, cost $520 and it is a couple hundred miles closer. Yikes.
What appeals to one person and not another fascinates me.
Shreveport is a huge casino town. Deciding that when in Shreveport…. I put $10 into a slot machine. A few minutes later, there were bells and whistles and whirring and mechanical fireworks and the apparatus where I sat spit out a voucher for me that indicated I had “won” ten cents! Won, as in, I was $9.90 poorer than I had been just a bit earlier. I have kept the chit as a reminder of why I do not gamble. Apparently, Shreveport is a gambling paradise for the people of North Louisiana and East Texas.
The Mardi Gras connection was also a surprise to me. At a Mardi Gras inspired reception, I had my picture taken with the Queen of the Highlands Krewe, Victoria Provenza. I even met some Southern Baptists who had been elected King and Queen of one of the Carnival organizations. Travel always brings surprises. While Shreveport bills itself as a more family friendly Mardi Gras experience than you will have in New Orleans, our hosts assured us (with a wink) that plenty of adult Mardi Gras events were also available in Shreveport.
Enough for one blog… More about Louisiana cooking later…