Spc. Jacob Smith explains the 120 mm mortar during Leesville’s Mayfest. (Photo by Spc. Anri G. Baril)
Nestled in the piney woods of west central Louisiana, Vernon Parish offers lots of outdoor opportunities for nature lovers and sportsmen. History buffs love the area too: there are museums and several sites on the National Register of Historic Places. If you’re interested in artistic entertainment, there’s no shortage of art exhibits, musical performances and annual festivals.
For more information on Vernon Parish, check out the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission website at www.vernonparish.org or call 337-238-0783. The following is merely a sampling of the cultural and recreational opportunities in Vernon Parish.
Dodge City Paintball
Dodge City Paintball in Leesville has speedball and woodsball paintball fields. Visit www.facebook.com/DodgeCityPaintball.
Gallery One Eleven
Leesville’s Gallery One Eleven is a co-op of local artists that showcases rotating exhibits. The gallery also works with the city of Leesville and the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission to coordinate and produce ArtWalk, where artists from all over the region share their work at an evening of fun, food, music and art. Visit www.louisianatravel.com/la-fine-art-galleries/gallery-111.
Louisiana’s “Legend Country” historic sites can tell you the stories of its past. The Confederate Breastworks at Burr Ferry, which is part of Louisiana’s Civil War Trail, is one of the last remaining earthen fortifications in the state. The fortifications were erected during the Civil War to protect Texas from invasion. The “Dreamland Theater” in Leesville has evolved from an open-air theater called the Aero-Dome, to a Moorish movie palace called the Dreamland, to a movie house named Vernon Theater. Today the hall is known as Celebrations, and is available for parties and special occasions. The Kansas City Southern Railway’s old depot in Leesville is now home to the Museum of West Louisiana and has a model of the old roundhouse and train yard, as well as other railroad memorabilia. Learn about these and other historical sites in the area at www.vernonparish.org/places-see/historic-places.
Kisatchie National Forest
At more than 600,000 acres, Kisatchie National Forest is spread across seven parishes in Louisiana. Hidden in the bayous, beneath the bald cypress groves and old growth pine, is a world of natural beauty, excitement, learning, recreation, resources and wildlife in their purest form. Recreational opportunities include bird-watching, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, off-road vehicle pursuits, swimming and more. Visit www.fs.usda.gov/kisatchie.
Leesville Municipal Golf Course
The Leesville Municipal Golf Course is more than a nine-hole golf course — the area includes a club house, a refreshment stand, paved and lighted tennis courts, and a separately fenced playground for children. There are also barbecue facilities and a roofed, open-air pavilion for picnics and outdoor gatherings. Visit http://leesvillela.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Leesville-Municipal-Golf-Course-1.
Leesville Recreation Complex
The Leesville Recreation Complex, adjacent to the fairgrounds, has a leisure pool, a soccer field, and five lighted baseball and softball fields with a centralized concession stand. Future plans include a walking path, a basketball court and tennis courts. Visit www.leesvillela.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Leesville-Recreation-Complex-2.
Held in historic downtown Leesville on the first weekend in May, Mayfest features artists, a car show, children’s activities, food, live music and more. Bring your lawn chairs and join the free two-day celebration. Visit www.vernonparish.org/mayfest.
See all nature has to offer in Vernon Parish. An online nature map highlights local sites for nature lovers and outlines a wildflower route and a long-leaf scenic area. Visit www.vernonparish.org/things-do and select “Nature Map.”
From department stores to unique boutiques and flea markets, there’s something for every taste and budget in Vernon Parish. Visit www.vernonparish.org/things-do/shopping.
Vernon Parish Chamber Orchestra
Vernon Parish Chamber Orchestra is a nonprofit volunteer organization devoted to furthering music enjoyment, music education and music performance. For information on upcoming performances and events, visit www.facebook.com/vernonparishchamberorchestra.