Downtown Ponchatoula attracts crowds with art

Anna Rita Miller, whose grandson attends the university, was one of many artists at the “Wine and Art Stroll” in downtown Ponchatoula. She was set up in front of and inside Ruth’s Collectible Gift Shop on Pine Street. Her artwork includes collage, water color, pastel and oil paints. Annie Goodman/The Lion’s Roar

People of all ages gathered in downtown Ponchatoula for their annual “Art & Wine Stroll.” 

Chairman of “Art & Wine Stroll” and a member of the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce Jenel Secrease explains why the festival is held in the center of Ponchatoula.

“‘Art & Wine Stroll’ was started about three years ago,” said Secrease. “The purpose of it is to bring people out to the businesses and walking up and down the downtown streets of Ponchatoula to see what everybody has to offer as far as our businesses, our restaurants, everybody included.”

 

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The “Art & Wine Stroll” took place on Saturday, Sept. 16 from 5-8 p.m. and featured wine, art and music.

“We have children’s art in several of the locations from St. Joseph, D. C. Reeves and Ponchatoula High School that’s displayed all throughout downtown,” said Secrease. “We also have local artists, some are from other places but mostly local artists, that are gonna be displaying and selling their own art. Then, we have 16 musicians at 16 different locations tonight that are gonna be playing.”

Kayla Morgan, an alumna who is on the advisory board for the college of business had a table along Pine Street to sell handbags.

“I am a handbag designer, so all of my goods are made here in the state,” said Morgan. “I’m actually out here with all of my new prints for the fall. I think it’s really great to celebrate the local artists and designers in the area, so events like this give you the opportunity to show your things to local people. It also helps with supporting local businesses as well.”

The event was open to the public and offered prizes to the crowd-picked favorite musicians and artists.

“The event overall is free of charge except for if you want to participate in the wine tasting, then it’s $20 for an armband,” said Secrease. “There will be 29 locations serving wine that you can participate in wine tasting. Also, at the end of the night, you can vote on your favorite artist or your favorite musician. The artist that wins for tonight is going to receive $100 worth of art supplies from The Art Station. Then, the musician who wins is going to receive a two hour recording session at Bare Sounds.”

Ashley Harper, a 1999 accounting alumna attended this event in her hometown and was surprised to see all the businesses downtown Ponchatoula had to offer.

“I didn’t realize how many different businesses were downtown because I never come walking down here unless it’s the Strawberry Festival,” said Harper. “Then, it’s so busy that I can’t really see anything. It’s nice to see everybody you know that you haven’t seen in a couple years and see what’s going on in the town.”

For Morgan, this event was a way to get new clients as well as to reconnect with old clients.

“Sometimes, it’s also selling more stuff to people I usually sell to,” said Morgan. “This is where they usually find me. I’m not in a lot of retail stores locally, so these are really good opportunities for me to be able to sell my goods to them.”

Secrease uses this event as a way to get people to visit downtown Ponchatoula to increase business.

“The main importance of it is, as the chamber, our job is to market the businesses of downtown Ponchatoula to show what we have,” said Secrease. “What better way than to just get people here, walking up and down their streets whether it be to see the music, the children’s art, the wine stroll, something will bring them out because there’s enough to interest everybody.”

Morgan hopes for the people who attended to support and patron the local artists and shops.

“I hope that they see the talent that’s in the parish, honestly, and that they’re able to support them for the holidays that are coming up for different gift giving ideas as well as all the local shops,” said Morgan.

Harper wants attendees to spread the word about what all downtown Ponchatoula has to offer.

“I hope that they pass, through the word of mouth, all the different businesses that we have, places to eat, crafts and art,” said Harper. “All these organizations are family-owned, locally-owned, and it’s a great way to support our hometown, Ponchatoula.”

 

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