Yes, it actually happened! From the corners of the globe, the Second Button Quail Symposium (but the first international BQ Symposium) gathered in Lafayette Louisiana in August of 1999. Devoted Quail owners from all over attended: Ann and Katie from Wisconsisn, Masayo from Japan, Garrie and Chris from Louisiana, Me (Michele) from Ohio, and our two "Troopers" :), Dave and Deb. With twice the number of attendees as last year's BQS, I would qualify this year as a success! In addition to the highlight of the Symposium, a tour of Garrie's aviaries, we also visited the Jean Lafitte Acadien Cultural Center for some essential local history; the Nature Preserve at Avery Island, the McIlhenney Tabasco Museum and General Store, and of course, two wonderful (but very hot!) days in New Orleans!
Katie's Chronicle of the Quail Symposium
I have to say that one of the most memorable things I did this year was to attend the Button Quail Symposium 1999, in Lafayette/New Orleans, Louisiana. It started out as a simple trip, but didn't stay that way! Before we knew it, it was a trip of epic proportions!!
We; Ann, my Mom (Deb), and I set out from Wisconsin in the early hours of August 11th. Following a handy ol' road called I-55 we made our way down south, stopping for the night in Memphis, TN, home of (you guessed it) GRACELAND!! After spending several hours at that wonderful Elvis fan Mecca we retired for the evening.
Starting bright and early the next morning we continued south and around 2 o' clock in the afternoon, reached our destination: Lafayette, Louisiana!! It was absolutely thrilling to meet Michele (and Dave too, that trooper!). After an afternoon of playing "Musical Rooms" at the Lafayette "Quality" Inn, we settled in and Ann and I had an excursion to the pool to beat the oppressive LA heat! Although some aspects of the "quality" Inn were not that great, I must commend the efforts of the staff, with a special thanks to Shelley and Earl, where ever they are We ended the day with an authentic Cajun meal at PreJean's Restaurant (Yay for crawfish!) that even had a boisterous Cajun group playing those bayou classics!
The next day found me suffering from supposed dehydration. However, while I re-hydrated myself, Ann, Michele, Dave, and Masayo (Who flew in from Japan the night before real late) all went exploring the heart of Cajun country and ended up seeing Avery Island (Home of Tabasco Sauce, among other things),
Sorry you missed this part, Katie! Avery Island is a truly beautiful nature preserve, part of the grand estate of the McIlhenney family. We took a driving tour of the area, which is comprised of lovely old live oaks, serene bayous, unique architecture, even an egret rookery (unfortunately most of the egrets must have been seeking cooler perches that day, as there were only a few at home when we stopped by). We didn't see any gators, although we had been assured that we needed to watch out for them if we left the car! We missed having you with us, Katie!
By afternoon I was good-to-go and we set off for what I like to call the "Button Quail Mecca," Garrie Landry's Arcadian Aviary in Franklin, LA. We saw so many truly beautiful birds, and not just the cute-as-a-button button quail! Garrie has a wonderful collection that was so neat to see. He and Chris Rogers were also excellent hosts, providing us "Northerners" with cold beverages and an air conditioned house to sit and talk in once we finished with the birds. My mom was thrilled when Garrie agreed to give a little tour of the exotic plants in his jungle-like yard, the kinds of things that people up north can barely grow in our houses!! This day culminated with another delicious Cajun meal at Landry's Seafood house. I learned how to eat a crab, which is a lot of work, and had a deep-fried assortment of goodies.
The next day our wagon rolled out of Lafayette at a fairly early hour so we could explore the bayou country before heading over to New Orleans to "Laissez les bon temps Rouler" (Let the good times roll!). We were hoping for gators, but we saw everything from shrimpboats to daiquiri Shacks. We even found a little business out in the middle of almost nowhere called "Quail Tools"; what a coincidence!!
New Orleans is a world of its own, just like they say! We stayed at a beautiful hotel, The Prytania Park, in the famous "Garden District." One of my favorite times of the trip was our dancing on Saturday night. We went out to Michaul's on St. Charles Avenue, and danced up a storm! The neat thing about Michaul's is that they have Cajun dance lessons throughout the evening so that you know how to dance once the band starts playing and Boy! Was it a blast! We learned the Cajun two-step, Cajun waltz, and some line dances. The band was great and we danced the night away to bayou classics like "Jambalaya" and "Jolie Blonde." After a lot of much needed sleep, we were ready for another day of touring.
Sunday included a riverboat ride on the Mississippi River from the RiverWalk by French Quarter to the Audobon Zoological Park. It was a pretty hot day for the zoo, but we kept a positive attitude and enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. We explored the French Quarter and Riverwalk market sampling a variety of tastes and cultures, and ended up dining at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co. Restaurant in the French Quarter. Once back at our hotel, we phoned up Michele and Masayo and finished up our button quail symposium. We shared our pictures, adorable quail movies (compliments of Masayo and her friends back in Japan), and a card game with the name of "Go Quail" (somewhat like "Go Fish" believe it or not). Good-byes were sad, but we know they're not forever, and there's always future meetings to look forward to! I had a great time, and will surely remember it for a long time to come! Thanks Katie!
If you are planning to spend any time in New Orleans, I would have to say, August is not the month to go. Hot and Humid are understatements, and crawfish are out of season that month, which disappointed me greatly. However, when you do go to New Orleans, by all means stay at the Prytania Park Hotel. Even though I'm quite convinced that our particular room was haunted (a common phenomenon in New Orleans, I understand), our stay there was relaxing and enjoyable. From hand-painted frescoes on the courtyard walls to charmingly restored "historic" rooms, this hotel was lovely. I know I sound like an advertisement here, but take my word for it and call them if you need reservations. 1-800-862-1984. :)
Some of the Beautiful Buttons we saw at Acadiana Aviaries
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