Living Ind

Kick Out the Yams

by Mary Tutwiler

The 61st annual Yambilee adds fine art to its cuisine.

You can expect a sweet deal at the Yambilee this weekend. For the first time in its 61-year history, Opelousas's historic harvest festival celebrating the sweet potato crop will add fine art to the art of cooking. Traditionally, yam pone and yam scones along with more traditional candied yams and sweet potato pie top the creative agenda, but this year, the Opelousas Museum of Fine Art will also hold the first Fall for Art Festival under the 200-year old oak trees at Courthouse Square.

Approximately 20 artists will be on hand to display their works and demonstrate techniques. Folk sculptor John Joyner will be whittling wood as well as selling finished painted pieces. Plein air painter Pat Macaluso sets up her easel and paints landscapes. Or if textiles beckon, watch shambori silk artist Deborah Simeral work her magic with dyes on fine fabrics. Jewelry, bird houses, wildlife paintings and funky voodoo panels by New Orleans artist Dr. Bob will all adorn the historic town square. There's food and drink to be found downtown at Le Zinc Main Street Bar/Restaurant as well as at the historic Palace Café.

Over at the Yamatorium, on the Yambilee Festival Grounds, the Yam-i-mal competition (take one odd-shaped yam, add feathers, bones, hair, paper, etc.) offers a $10 first prize for the best entry. Browse local arts and crafts, shop the old-time farmer's market and linger for a taste of yam cake. And Sunday at noon, the Grand Louisiyam Parade rolls down La. 190, Opelousas's main street, from Courthouse Square to the Yambilee grounds on the western outskirts of town.

The Yambilee takes place Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 28-29. For more info, call the Yambilee Festival at (337) 948-8848, or visit