LOCAL

Swamp Life Expo draws big crowd to Grosse Tete

Staff Report

More than 1,000 visitors converged at the Iberville Visitors Center in Grosse Tete on Saturday to celebrate the history and traditions of a unique south Louisiana culture.

A cypress putt-putt boat built by John Wayne Businelle of Indian Village was on display the Swamp Life Expo.

The Swamp Life Expo returned for the first time since 2019, following two years of cancelations triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expo gave visitors a look at everything from “flint knapping” and “paleo” skills, down to the technique of making fish hoop nets by hand.

It also allowed visitors to talk with the people who live and work in the Atchafalaya Basin.

Iberville Parish Council Environmental Manager John Clark shows a visitor a 35-pound turtle on display at the Swamp Life Expo.

Most of the visitors came from Iberville and surrounding parishes in the Greater Baton Rouge area.

Some visitors came from elsewhere, including one who saw the traffic on La. 77, where vehicles were parked bumper-to-bumper a mile each direction from the site.

Jacqueline Moore, who was headed to Baton Rouge from Shreveport, noticed the cars when she stopped at the nearby Tiger Truck Stop.

She saw history of Louisiana that she had not seen before.

“I had always heard about the families whose descendants grew up in the swamp, but this gave me a look at how they survived and prospered in the area,” said Collins, a native of Toledo, Ohio. “I always admired the people in this area, but this exhibit showed how amazing these people are.

“I enjoyed it so much that I may come back next year,” she said.

Children had the opportunity to build birdhouses as part of the attractions at the 2022 Swamp Life Expo.

The event featured activities for all ages. It featured booths where children learned to build birdhouses and gave them the opportunity to hold a live bullfrog and learn about native plans.

Keeping with the Cajun culture, food played a significant role in the event.

Culinary specialties served free at the event included duck, goose and andouille sausage gumbo, Cajun boudin wraps, swamp bucket sauce piquante, hog cracklins, sweet potato pie and bread pudding.

Live music was provided by Terry and the Zydeco Bad Boys.

Terry and the Zydeco Bad Boys performed at the 2022 Swamp Life Expo in Grosse Tete.

The Walnut Bayou “Streamulator Model” showed how natural rivers are formed by flowing water, and children can get hands-on experience in designing healthy, sustainable rivers, courtesy of the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Exhibits also showed how local waters flow into the Barataria Terrebonne Estuary, then to the Gulf of Mexico, and the unique wildlife and fisheries in the estuary through an exhibit by the Barataria Terrebonne Nation Estuary Program.

The Louisiana Nature Conservancy and National Atchafalaya Heritage Trace also provided information about swamp life and their programs. The Swamp Life Expo was sponsored by the Iberville Parish Council and Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr.