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Monday, April 19, 2021

Celebrating the ‘New’ Normal

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Events, Music, Fun Return

Life and activities are returning to normal downtown, and we couldn’t be more pleased about it, or the variety of events happening the weekend of April 23-25. The fun begins in earnest Saturday morning with the Snowmageddon Plant Swap at The Lot, 400 Crockett St., and the Downtown Mercantile Spring Market at C & C Mercantile and Lighting, 1110 Texas Ave.

The hugely popular spring market is the bi-yearly showpiece of Derek and Lauren Ross Simmons, the arty and creative owners of C & C Mercantile and Lighting. The market, says Lauren, is all about community. “We (C&C Mercantile) are a small business,” she says. “My art business is also small; the other artists and vendors participating are small. We were all hurt by Covid. It’s time for everyone to be outside and enjoying life again and for these artists to be earning revenue.”

A packed house of vendors – more than 52 of them – will be staged in a lot beside the Texas Avenue business, tucked in along the sidewalk in front and positioned in a vacant building beside. “We had to turn vendors away,” Lauren says. “There were just more than we had room to accommodate.”

Starting Saturday, April 24, at 10 a.m., these vendors will be ready to sell their creative and needful things; items like abstract faces painted on the pages of books, outdoorsy shirts with pithy sayings, colorful small-batch pottery, repurposed journals, leather goods, clothing, handmade pillows, papercraft, hats, jewelry, lotions, potions and notions.

Lauren, an accomplished artist, will be selling her own paintings, but knows that any money made will likely be spent quickly. “I usually turn right around and buy items from other vendors,” she tells me. “I am really looking forward to purchasing a Beautox Art painting and am constantly surprised by all that artists in Shreveport-Bossier and elsewhere have to offer.”

The spring market will also feature live music from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 -7 p.m. Saturday, and a variety of food dishes will be for sale ranging from Southern stuffed shrimp and traditional Mexican plates to West African oxtail and coconut rice dishes. New this year is The Sun Up Social Brunch on Sunday, April 25, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., giving a chance to enjoy brunch foods, gospel singing and one final round of shopping before the market is done. Admission to both the Saturday and Sunday markets is free.

Several blocks to the east will be the 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Snowmageddon Plant Swap, a new-to-Shreveport event featuring all things green and growing. A project of the Downtown Development Authority, the plant swap came to life in the aftermath of the ice and snowstorm as social media blew up about local landscaping losses due to the cold.

It started small as a way to get people together and allow them to trade plants, seeds and seedlings they didn’t want for garden goodies they did. It has since grown … and grown some more. It will still feature tons of “swappable” items, but will also have free plants, seeds and seedlings, cookbooks and items to repurpose; gardening advice and information will be available as will loads of plants, vintage items, crafts and other items to purchase outright.

After choosing your plants, enjoy lunch from food trucks featuring Greek, Jamaican and Mexican dishes. The only rules for the swap are to bring something from the garden to trade and to be nice. Admission to the plant swap is free.

Also free is the first of many Sundays in the Park at the Caddo Common Park, 865 Texas Ave. From 2-6 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, take part in yoga, try your hand at art, watch outdoor painting, enjoy outdoor theater performances and, later, music by The Joanitones. Area arts and social service organizations will be on hand to share information about what they offer, and there will be a small arts market and food trucks.

The kick-off re-opening of Caddo Common on April 25 will be the first of many opportunities there to exercise, learn more about health, dance, interact with nature, watch art being created, enjoy a festival of cultures, have a great date night and so much more, all courtesy the Parish of Caddo, Shreveport Regional Arts Council and a myriad of partners and supporters.

Downtown Shreveport is coming back to life. Office workers are returning, businesses are reopening, and all those events that make Shreveport a special place are once again making plans. In the weeks to come, the Downtown Artwalk will return, as will CORK and Mudbug Madness. Life is returning to normal, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome it – and you – back.

Liz Swaine is the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. She can be reached at liz@downtownshreveport.com.

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