The 9th Annual Cassidy Park Cook-Off/BBQ
The large, wooded Cassidy Park, on the bank of the sinuous Bogue Lusa Creek, is the site of an annual competition in which amateur chefs compete to cook the best wild game meat. Past entries have included deep-fried rattlesnake, elk chili, wild game jambalaya, sweet and sour deer, alligator sauce piquante, and “Pig on Crack”—a smoked pig laid on top a bed of cracklin. The event raises funds for the Native American and the Pioneer museums, both located in the park. Guests are invited to bring their own lawn chairs.
The cook-off is an excellent opportunity to visit Bogalusa, “The Magic City,” a town founded in 1906 by the Goodyears of Buffalo, New York, in a pine forest on the Mississippi border eighty minutes north of New Orleans. A century ago it was home to the world’s largest sawmill. In the 1960s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Bogalusa had one of the highest per capita Ku Klux Klan memberships in America. The Pioneer Museum currently has an exhibition honoring the city’s prominent black citizens, including the artist Alvin Carter and the poet Yusef Komunyakaa. Born James Willie Brown, Jr., Komunyakaa published a collection about his childhood in Bogalusa called Magic City (1992). It includes the poem “Mismatched Shoes”:
My grandfather came from Trinidad
Smuggled in like a sack of papaya
On a banana boat, to a preacher’s
Bowl of gumbo & jambalaya, to jazz;
The name Brown fitted him like trouble,
A plantation owner’s breath
Clouding each filigreed letter…
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