La. bicentennial will include Baton Rouge festival

MELINDA DESLATTE Associated Press Published:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- The 200th anniversary of Louisiana's statehood will be celebrated with a festival, parade and a formal re-enactment of the debate over whether to become part of the United States.

The hallmark event will be an April festival highlighting food, cooking demonstrations, music and artists from each region of the state. The Louisiana Family Homecoming Celebration is scheduled for April 28, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the grounds of the state Capitol.

Two days later, a formal ceremony will commemorate the state's official birthday with the Louisiana Legislature meeting in joint session and a re-creation of the debate to convince Congress that Louisiana should be part of the country.

A special Louisiana Bicentennial stamp featuring a photo by state naturalist-photographer C.C. Lockwood will go on sale that day.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, retired Army Lt. General Russel Honoré and members of the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission announced the plans Monday.

"Our focus has been on education and making sure our students have the opportunity to learn about Louisiana's 200-year history," Dardenne said. "Planning next month's celebrations comes naturally to Louisianians. April 30 will be a special day for anyone who has ever called Louisiana home."

Louisiana became a state on April 30, 1812.

Other plans include a military parade in New Orleans on Aug. 4 similar to one held in the French Quarter in 1912, a special museum exhibit in Baton Rouge running through next year and screenings around the state of a documentary narrated by Louisiana native actor and crooner Harry Connick Jr.

"The bicentennial is a chance for us to educate, celebrate, demonstrate our resiliency and show our cultural diversity and contributions to this great nation," Honoré said in a statement.

Babies born on April 30 in a state hospital will receive a bicentennial medal and a special certificate, the Louisiana Hospital Association said.

The Louisiana Bicentennial Commission expects to raise $1 million to cover event costs, raised mainly through private donations. Dardenne's office is using $100,000 of tourism money given to the state by BP PLC after the Gulf Coast oil spill for the bicentennial festivities.

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Online:

www.LouisianaBicentennial2012.com