BBQ, cookoff to help history group

Published 5:44 am Friday, March 3, 2017

When local waterways rose beyond their banks on March 11, 2016, about a week before the annual Museums of Cassidy Park Cook-off/BBQ was scheduled, many homes and places of business were devastated.

The 10th Annual Museums Cook-off/BBQ will take place on Saturday, March 18, and the museums’ representatives say its success is important for the future of the community.

During last year’s flood, video footage of the normally placid Bogue Lusa Creek roiling and ravaging Cassidy Park was quickly posted online, and people were astonished at the sight. In the aftermath, city workers and museum volunteers found huge pits, like enormous sinkholes, throughout the park. The “covered bridge” walkway was crumbled in one, playground equipment was toppled in others, and a city utility shed was destroyed.

Notably, the two small museums in the park were rendered unusable. The glass front of the Native American Museum was broken by the raging waters, and artifacts — including a trade bead necklace, moccasins, a papoose, a Choctaw bowl found in a field in Angie, and numerous stone points — were lost to the fast moving water.

The Pioneer Museum suffered less damage because its wooden door swelled shut, but the condition of the pottery kiln in the classroom is still uncertain, and the museums had to pay replacement costs for photography that had recently been borrowed from a Biloxi artist.

“We lost numerous books, Bogalusa High School yearbooks, and equipment such as computers, a copier, printers, and audio-visual equipment,” said the museums’ president, Sandy Bloom.

The old outhouse that used to stand outside the Pioneer Museum “is somewhere along the Bogalusa creek,” she said.

Volunteers rallied and recovered a bit of what was lost, including some of the stone points, Bloom said.

“Our volunteers spent numerous hours at the museums and at home saving photos, files, and other artifacts,” she said.

Now, “thanks to the generosity of (former mayor) Charles Mizell,” Bloom said, the combined museums are located at 750 Avenue F.

The space is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“We also have temporary exhibits in the library and city hall,” she said. “We plan to change these periodically. We are also working with the city to place signage along the new walking trail, telling the history of Bogalusa. A museum can be so much more than what you find within the walls.

“We are also working with the city, the state, and FEMA to devise a plan for a permanent location. We need to be out of the flood plain so that makes returning to the park unlikely. We will still work with the city to have classes in the classroom, particularly in the paper making lab.”

Now, the 10th Annual Museums of Cassidy Park Cook-off/BBQ is approaching, and membership and Cook-off chair Johni Miles-Blount said she would like to “grow the Cook-off” and to get “more cookers than we ever had” to take part.

Anyone interested in cooking should contact Miles-Blount at 985-516-2756. It costs $25 per team, and teams are eligible for cash prizes.

“This Cook-off is extremely important to our museum in a number of ways,” Bloom said. “Obviously, it is a fund raiser and the money is important to continue to preserve what we have and to be able to display items in a meaningful way. More importantly, it is a way to rebuild our community support and presence. It will be a celebration of how far we have come since those very uncertain days following the flood.

“We are grateful to Rep. Malinda White for hosting the event and to all of our sponsors. Then of course, there are the bragging rights the cooking teams can claim for their creative cooking.”

The Cook-off/BBQ will take place in Cassidy Park from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets to sample the teams’ creations cost $15 and can be purchased in advance at Wild Blu on Columbia Street and at McMillan’s Nursery. Children 12 and under eat free if accompanied by an adult.

This story was written by Daily News reporter Marcelle Hanemann.