You Can Master North Louisiana’s History in a Day on This Rural, Self-Driving Tour


History buffs, you’re going to love this! The Heritage and Harvest Tour is an annual self-driving tour through rural north Louisiana that uncovers the historical keepsakes along the Boom or Bust Byway. This year’s event has a total of 28 stops along a 1-hour route through six towns: Dixie, Belcher, Gilliam, Hosston, Mira and Ida. These stops include personal homes, long-standing churches, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, attractions and scenic landscapes that help preserve the area’s ornate history. Many of the stops on this tour will serve light refreshments, display purchasable art, and host interactive exhibits as well as live musical performances. The Heritage and Harvest Tour will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along U.S. Highway 71 North and Louisiana Highway 3049, but I was able to capture a sneak peek inside three attractions before the big event.


My first stop was at Big Mama’s Antiques and Restorations, located at 6403 Dogwood Street in Hosston. It is an obscure African American-owned antique shop that houses everything from 200-year-old newspapers and documents to vintage portraits and pre-Civil War artifacts. Ray Stephenson, owner of Big Mama’s Antiques and Restorations, has a larger than life personality with an undeniable passion to tell America’s rough history. Stephenson showed me an abundance of invaluable display-only pieces that made my heart sink, such as original cotton sacks, “for sale” news articles, and “Whites Only” and “Coloreds Only” signage. That only touches the surface of his collection. Stephenson is unveiling more of his pristine historical relics specifically for the Heritage and Harvest Tour. Big Mama’s Antiques and Restorations is a must-stop along this historical journey.


From Hosston, I drove 13 minutes to Belcher to step into the Belcher Presbyterian Church, located at 508 Gray Street, which was founded in 1897 and constructed in 1925. Moderate streaks of natural light peeked through the windows to reveal the fascinating symmetrical architecture, and that’s when I noticed the towering pipe organ behind the alter. Later, I learned that this particular pipe organ has the same components of the original Greek pipe organ that was built in the early 1400s. On the day of the Heritage and Harvest Tour, a local musician will have a live pipe organ performance from 11 a.m. to noon. Don’t miss this. Plan your route accordingly.


Just 10 minutes up the road is The Dixie Gin, located at 6596 Sentell Road in Shreveport. This is a popular event venue along the Boom or Bust Byway with indoor and outdoor space. Outside are two wooden, sliding doors that lead to a center walkway with rows of benches on either side facing the scenic countryside. The Dixie Gin has a rustic interior with open, versatile space to transform a small cotton gin into a charming venue for large parties and ceremonies. Exclusively for the Heritage and Harvest Tour, The Dixie Gin will host two vendors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., original paintings by Kathy Sanders and homemade lavender products by Dixie Farms Lavender. Stop by to experience the raw talents of locals and tour the adorable venue.

For more information and a full list of stops along the 2019 Heritage and Harvest Tour, visit For more upcoming events along the Boom or Bust Byway, visit

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