November 9 is National Louisiana Day, and November 1-14 is when Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou celebrates Lafourche Heritage Days, a time to reflect on the parish’s distinctive culture. That makes November the perfect opportunity to offer some pointers about where you might interact with a few of Louisiana’s famous state symbols, those things that truly set our state and parish apart from all the rest.
State Bird: Brown Pelican
You’ll find these big waterbirds – you can’t miss their distinctive bills and seven-foot wingspan as they swoop over the water – pretty much anywhere that anglers are hauling in their catch. Pelicans are expert fishermen themselves, but they’re not above taking the easy way out and hoping for some scraps to be tossed in their direction. A great place to look for them is Port Fourchon, which recently installed viewfinders to assist the many birdwatchers who head here to check species off their birding life list.
State Boat: Pirogue
At the Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building in Lockport, visitors learn the history of all the boats that have been used to traverse Bayou Lafourche. That includes pirogues, small wooden boats uniquely designed to navigate the shallow swamps of Louisiana’s most southern reaches. The facility is both a museum and workshop, offering classes in how to carve a paddle or handcraft your own pirogue.
State Cuisine: Gumbo
Gumbo is a mouth-watering blend of vegetables (typically the “holy trinity” of onions, celery and peppers), a favorite protein (chicken, seafood, sausage), and a medley of spices. You don’t need exact measurements to whip up a scrumptious bowl of gumbo, and that flexibility allows chefs to craft unique spins on the classic dish. We recommend following the Cajun Bayou Food Trail and sampling gumbo at each stop. It’ll never taste the same way at two different places ... and you’ll earn a T-shirt in the process!
State Instrument: Cajun Accordion
Music is at the very heart of Cajun culture, and it’s nearly impossible to hear a Cajun accordion without feeling the urge to get up and dance. The Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center is home to a full music exhibit that features these instruments. The center also hosts Cajun music jams on Monday nights. Due to COVID restrictions, however, this National Park site is closed to visitors until further notice. Put it on your wish list for a future visit!
State Reptile and Tree: American Alligator and Bald Cypress
The best and safest way to get a good glimpse of alligators is via a swamp tour, and Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou is home to four tour companies. All will get you deep into the swamps, where you can then appreciate the stillness and beauty of your surroundings. But don’t get too comfortable, because when the boat pauses, that generally means that an alligator is lurking nearby! As a bonus, on any tour you’ll also see the region’s bald cypress trees, which are incredibly hardy and able to adapt to all kinds of growing conditions ... including murky, humid swamps!