Las Mariposas

Las Mariposas

The American Civil War was a particularly bloody period in the tumultuous history of the USA. It split the country down the middle and framed the abolitionist movement of the time, on one side the Confederacy (South) and on the other side the Union (North). Like all great battles in history, it has a particular resonance for the American people, who see the civil war as a titanic battle for freedom and liberty. Many people remember the fallen men and women in different ways, but in Mariposa, California, they have an event that immerses you right back in the conflict.

The Las Mariposa Civil War Days event takes place on over 60 acres of land which resembles actual battlefield locations, as attested by prior  reenactors.  Inhibited only by your imagination, our site has wide open spaces with trees, draws and a ravine.  Here the cavalry  lope their horses, cannon fire rages, and battle tactics and stategies are limitless in their potential. 

Tensions were escalating as a result of the anti-slavery movement in the 1850s, particularly in the Deep South where slavery was a huge industry for the owners of cotton plantations. President Abraham Lincoln was a central player in this story and was fiercely opposed to slavery, heading the abolitionist movement. Many efforts were made to hammer out a peace settlement and avoid war with the South, but nothing materialised. War was inevitable.

This war was a watershed moment in many ways, as it signalled the movement to mechanised warfare. Mass-production was starting to become more prevalent and new killing machines were used with greater accuracy on the battlefields. Because of this new technology the causalities were enormous, and the conflict remains the most deadly in the USA's history, with over 750,000 soldiers estimated to have died between 1861 – 1865.

Now there is an event in Mariposa, California,  that re-enacts some of the most telling events in the chronology of the fighting. You can get a real sense of what the American Civil War was really like, as historians and enthusiasts take you on a guided tour through a bygone era, using a variety of live demonstrations and story-telling to communicate the full spectrum of the war.

The event goes by the name of ‘Las Mariposas Civil War Days – Education Day' and there are so many exciting things to see and do. All the while you can feed your mind with interesting factual information and interactive tours, such as: Infantry Demonstrations, Live Artillery and Cavalry Demonstrations. You can also carry out a make-believe Q & A with notable figures like President Lincoln, President Davis, General Grant, General Lee and Colonel Fremantle. Then try your hand at being a blacksmith for an hour or if that does not tickle your fancy there is always the pony express!

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New Orleans Jazz Fest

New Orleans Jazz Fest

Jazz comes deep from the soul of the Afro-American tradition in the USA, emerging from the Southern States during a time of great political and social strife. Music was a great release in the pressure cooker that was America in the early 20th Century and this kind of music captures perfectly the ferocious energy and unpredictability of the age. The world famous trombonist J. J. Johnson captured the essence of the music saying: "Jazz is restless. It won't stay put and it never will." It continues to move people today. The 2018 Festival took place on April 27 through May 6 and it was be the 49th annual celebration.

In New Orleans they celebrate their jazz heritage in style with a wonderful event that brings together all types of music. This is known officially as the Jazz & Heritage Festival, but is more popularly known as the Jazz Fest on the street. 2013 is promising to be a bumper year with over 10-days of live music and food you can start to understand how much jazz means to the people, and how far it has travelled around the world. This year will see the likes of Billy Joel, The Black Keys and Maroon 5 make appearances.

International and local artists come from all over to contribute to the musical fusion between April 26th and May 5th. Organisers have repeatedly shown they are keen to blend different styles together, with past performers including: Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Santana, Sarah Vaughan, Paul Simon and Jimmy Buffett.

Jazz was one of the first major American exports and this festival represents a joy for the eyes and ears of the music connoisseur. You can expect a roster of thousands of musicians, chefs and artisans to cater to the 400,000 fellow music lovers who are predicted to be in attendance.

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Mardi Gras Louisiana Style

Mardi Gras Louisiana Style

Mardi Gras is part of the fabric of USA life. Having been brought to the Deep South by the early French settlers, it has become a hybrid of Catholic tradition and partying which draws thousands of tourists each year. The date that it starts fluctuates, but usually commences on Ash Wednesday. Next year on Shrove Tuesday, March 5 2019

The first Mardi Gras dates back to 1699 in Louisiana on the banks of the Mississippi River and now every year, revellers come dressed in beads for a day of fun and frolics on the streets. Louisiana is a notoriously a melting pot of cultures and traditions, so it is interesting to note that no two areas celebrate the festival in the same way. Everything has a unique flavour.

The modern day carnival has a legacy which dates back to the Rex Organisation in 1872. Rex is colloquially known as King of the Carnival and it was him that chose the official colours which are still worn with pride today: purple, green and gold. Although it is undeniable that this colour combination goes well together, Rex was not merely interested in aesthetics. He gave each colour its own meaning knowing that symbolism is very powerful in the South. The purple stands for justice, green is indicative of faith, and gold represents power.

But one of the most interesting aspects of the event is the parade which happens before Fat Tuesday, and culminates in the parade of 60 boats which travel the packed streets across from Slidell to Madisonville. Some of the best views can be found around Lake Charles and Houma, which are famous for the procession of brightly lit boats. Lafayette's take on Mardi Gras differs somewhat, and they are more family-oriented with lots of activities for children and youths.

The festival has a little bit of everything to titillate the senses, with dancers, food stalls, fancy dress, cocktails, awesome parades, and all you have to do is find a good spot and enjoy the procession. It is evident that the most fantastic celebrations happen on the streets of New Orleans, but all the surrounding neighbourhoods join in which gives it a fully inclusive atmosphere.

Annual Tour de Troit

Annual Tour de Troit

The bicycle is one of the most energy efficient modes of transport there is. When the whole world relies so heavily on dirty fossil fuels, which pollute the atmosphere, cost billions of dollars to maintain and cause countless ecological disasters. Sometimes you have to sit and wonder the logic of it all. Especially in urban areas, w ho needs a car when you have a bicycle which is the greenest mode of transport and it keeps you healthy. The 17th Annual Tour de Troit for September 15, 2018, is a bike ride that explores some of the city's historic areas, takes in many of its most breathtaking sights, and provides bicyclists a unique opportunity to legally "take over" the streets of Motown.

One city that is encouraging the use of the bicycle is Detroit. The irony being that Detroit is also known as The Motor City for its strong links to the automotive industry. But they obviously want to promote cleaner modes of transport as well with the Annual Tour de Troit, which is due to take place on September 15, 2018 . This level of support from such a major player in the car business can only be a good thing and shows a step in the right direction for a more sustainable future.

This is a bike ride with a difference as you will be circumnavigating the historic streets alongside 5000+ other cyclists. The scenery is beautiful in this part of the world and people will literally be allowed to take over the streets for a unique and breath-taking tour around the birthplace of Motown. After the frivolity is done and your legs are tired you can relax with some good food and music in Roosevelt Park.

Safety on such an occasion is obviously vital, and all of the precautions have been put in place, including a police escort. More experienced riders can opt out of this chaperone service if they choose to. Each rider is asked before the ride their skill level and speed so that they can be organised into groups. It is important to be honest about your capabilities, because if you are surrounded by cyclists who are faster than you that could pose a health risk.

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