Wing City: Hammond, Louisiana’s Top 10 Best Wings

10639433_713988775351047_6478647174168246618_n

By Jesse Brooks

While the world was sleeping, the city of Hammond, Louisiana quietly has become a kingdom for wings. No meetings were held, and a formal declaration may not have even been made, but Hammond has become a center for the best locally made wings in the last 15 or so years.

So let’s take a look at the trailblazers putting this college town on the map with America’s favorite bar food. There are the top 10 best wings in Hammond.

10. China Wok – 1320 N Morrison Blvd, Hammond, LA 70401

download

For years now, China Wok has been serving up some of the best value meals to Southeastern students living on a budget. For about $7-8 you can get a fried wings and pork fried rice box. The wings are plain but they’re lightly fried and crispy, and the friend rice makes the perfect compliment. Mix it up with any combination of soy, duck or sriracha sauce and you’ll eat like a king.

9. Big Al’s Burgers – 14605 W University Ave, Hammond, LA 70401

27072637_328237911002909_9219663833152036901_n

Big Al’s has been a recent welcomed addition to the Hammond food scene. It features a simple menu of burgers, po boys and wings. The wings here about medium sized and not over fried. They offer familiar flavors like BBQ, lemon pepper and buffalo.

8. Salty Joe’s BBQ – 43344 South Range Rd. Hammond, Louisiana

29214799_2101606783197826_3221559074994782208_n

Hammond doesn’t have a long tradition of barbeque, but Salty Joe’s is giving it a go, and doing a pretty good job at it. The wings here are smoked, making them the only ones on our list that aren’t fried. They come in original and spicy, and their smoked method makes the wings tender with meat falling off the bone.

7. Bone-A-Fide Wings & Things – 46289 N Morrison Blvd, Hammond, LA 70401

12191888_936024989804708_6047711273548815079_n

In recent years, Bone-A-Fide has made their presence known. They have continued to add to the menu and have many favorites that leave customers coming back for more. The recommended flavor here is lemon pepper, and be sure to grab a side of mac-and-cheese with every meal.

6. Super King Seafood – 411 West Thomas St. Hammond, Louisiana 70401

o

Super King is super dope when it comes to big order boiled seafood like crawfish and crabs, but did you know they have some of the best wings in town? Super King’s hot wings are not to be confused with buffalo wings. They’re fried in an Asian style batter full of spice. Make sure grab a cold beverage with a wing and fried rice box.

5. Mariner’s Inn – 117 W Thomas St Hammond, Louisiana 70401

21462937_1574234669266574_7099441767711734774_n

Mariner’s is a Hammond staple and classic in everything they do. They are one of the city few late night spots, closing at midnight, making them a favorite with college students, service industry workers and the bar crowd. So naturally wings are a fit. Mariner’s offers one of the purest traditional buffalo wings found in Hammond.

4. Coop DeVille – 1750 W Thomas St, Ste I Hammond, Louisiana 70401

o-1

Coop DeVille is ground zero for Hammond’s wing wave. Before them, there were not any wing specific restaurants and they set the standard with a vast menu of different flavors. Bacon and Cheddar wings are probably the most unique ones here.

3. City Empire – 1304 W. Thomas Street Hammond, Louisiana 70401

22549543_286240468549405_3987559692555780558_n

City Empire is the newest establishments on the scene and they’ve already shown great promise. The price is great as they offer a four piece wings and friends deal for $5.00. They also close at midnight, and 3 a.m. on the weekends, making them one of the most reliable late night spots in the city. Their wings are plump, flavorful and made to order.

2. Tommy’s on Thomas – 216 W Thomas St, Hammond, LA 70401
Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 3.29.09 AM

Known for pizza, Tommy’s has the absolute best buffalo wings in the city hands down. They’re breaded, one of the few on our list, but the batter isn’t thick. Tommy’s wings are jumbo in size and pair well with the house made ranch dressing and a cold brew. They also have a Voodoo BBQ flavor that is pretty good as well.

1. Chef’s Wings – 408 SW Railroad Ave, Hammond, LA 70403

IMG_5922

We are crowning Chef’s Wings as the best of Hammond because they score points across the board in wing criteria. Their wings are medium in size, never over fried and there’s a decent variety of flavors. The two best flavors here are lemon pepper and sweet red chili. Those looking for heat in their buffalo will find it here so choose your temperature carefully.

 

Advertisements

Former Independence ball player competes for spot to open for Migos in new rap career

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 4.44.34 AM

One shot- Quentin Burkhalter (a.k.a. Quentin the 5th) performs an audition to open for Migos, Lil Baby, Blac Youngsta and Tammy Rivera at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, Louisiana on June 29. 

By Jesse Brooks

Tangipahoa Parish produces s many standout athletes that it’s not a mystery why so many have dreams of going pro. However, “going pro” means something totally different to Quentin Burkhalter, who goes by the stage name Quentin the 5th. On June 12, Quentin put his rhyming skills to the test by auditioning for a chance to open for Atlanta hip-hop recording artists and national sensation Migos at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, Louisiana on June 29. Also performing on that date are touring partners Lil Baby, Blac Youngsta and Tammy Rivera.

The move is an ambitious one for the young artist embarking on a post-college career. Rapping was once a hidden talent for Quentin, but now he is putting his self out there by taking chances.

Quentin called Amite his hometown, but he attended Independence High Magnet School where he was a basketball player for the Tigers.

“I played football, basketball and a little track. Basketball was my favorite,” Quentin said. “I probably could’ve done more but I stopped focusing on sports whenever I discovered that I was a good rhymer. Kept it a secret until it kinda leaked out but now it’s coming out the bag, so to speak.”

Quentin attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette after high school and it was there he started to focus on his craft.

“Music has aways been around me,” Quentin said. “I’ve been around for 4-5 years. Just relaxing and crafting. I listen to anything I get my hands on and have a lot of influences.”

Quentin says that he was also exposed to music from a young age as his mother was a dance instructor and he spent a lot of time around his school’s marching band. Now, he’s focused on putting it all together.

As far as other rappers he looks up to, Quentin has named Curren$y, J. Cole and Big Krit to be some of his favorites. Quentin’s style is very chill and concise. He has a social conscious and has a knack for strong storytelling. Shortly after creating a Soundcloud profile Quentin earned several thousand plays on line for a track called “Backwoods”.

The early online success caught the eyes and ears of Shaq Cosse, a writer for The Source Magazine. Cosse praised Quentin for being unique and creative and says he believes that he has Kendrick Lamar levels of potential.

If all goes well following the audition, it could lead to the next big step in Quentin’s road of progression. For the contest, Quentin performed an original track called “Stevie Wonderful”, an old school inspired track.

If you’d like to vote for Quentin’s audition advancement, please visit https://form.jotform.com/81628388034159 and vote for #22.

REVIEW: Punjabi Dhana serves Hammond, Louisiana its first taste of Indian Cuisine

35080993_10155578999737361_2664944997198987264_n

HOT LIKE CURRY- Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine is the first culinary venture of its kind in Hammond, Louisiana. Photo by Jeremy Rhodes.

By Jeremy Rhodes

Scientists say that our sense of smell holds the strongest potential of memory. I claim this to be self evident being that I wish to relive the memory of walking into Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine for the first time. Hearing the appeasing songs of Indian pop music and smelling the aroma of some of the finest Indian food I have ever had brought me to a scerine place in my mind. In my ignorance I could never imagine such a culinary blessing to grace Hammond America, but fear not readers, Indian Food is closer to home than you could imagine. At first glance, Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine only looks like a gas station because it is, the Best Stop 34 to be exact. Look beyond the humble interior because behind the doors lies a treat for the senses.

I was in a jovial state of mind by all the options that were presented before me. Not only was the menu concise and informative, it also gave the option of mild, medium or spicy for all the dishes. For the sake of retelling my experience to others, I decided to order the scipy version of the Butter Chicken. I chose this dish because I feel that the Butter Chicken is a good starting point for any newcomers who may never have had Indian cuisine before and I wanted to face the trust behind the infamous overbearing spiciness that is notorious with Indian Cuisine.

35188965_10155578999982361_8088561906823987200_n

Photo by Jeremy Rhodes.

In response, I say with all honesty that the Butter Chicken was an absolute delight. This dish alone could convert anyone sits on the fence of suspicion. There was a euphoric wave of joy in every spoonful I had. The cream in the dish cut the spiciness without leaving any flavor out. The dish is served with traditional brass bowls and Indian rice. With the Indian music playing behind me and the dishes steaming before me I could close my eyes and be at complete peace in the world.

I was joined by friends on this culinary conquest, to which they ordered the Chicken Vindaloo and the Palak Kofta. The Chicken Vindaloo had a savory spice found in the garlic tomato sauce. The hidden gem about this dish are the potatoes that compliment the sauce by absorbing vast amounts of flavor. Though this dish had quite a spicy kick, it is the flavor that brings out the love and tradition that cooked with it. The Palak Kofta is a vegetarian dish with a thick, hearty spinach sauce. I truly love this dish for the mixed vegetable balls that come with it shows the powerful taste possibilities vegetables can have.

I will be frank when I say that the location of this restaurant is not the best place to hold such majestic food but I sit back and think how perfectly quaint it is for Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine to be found in a gas station. It is as if this restaurant challenges the adventurous eater to find them and in result find culinary bliss.

35195789_10155578999867361_4463734531203006464_n
Photo by Jeremy Rhodes.

While talking with customers around me I found that many of them were returning customers. It is as if these partitions discovered a goldmine and have fallen madly in love with what is offered. One customer, Wade Bridges, was eating here to celebrate his birthday. Bridges was very passionate about his love of Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine and recalls his first time trying their food by saying, “I was super trebadacious about Indian food and I didn’t know anything about it going in. I found that it is absolutely an experience. We are from the South we know spice we can handle that, this is a completely different kind. This is flavor this is not just straight heat.” When asked about how he would sell the idea of Indian food to a person who has never had it he said, “Honestly, I am just going to continue to rave about it. How good it is and how filling it is.”

My overall thoughts on this restaurant is that this is an eatery I want to see flourish. The herbs and spices experienced here awakened tastebuds I did not know I even had. I think the consensus from fans of Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine is that this place has great food. I agree with this, however, not only is this a great restaurant I also believe this is an important restaurant. Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine brings a hidden gem of culture to Hammond. The south’s comfort food is about bringing three things to the table; food, smiles and community. I saw with my own eyes complete strangers talking to each other while enjoying this food. It is as if the flavors melted our guard we tend to build around ourselves. Punjabi Dhaba Indian Cuisine is a place to be adventurous, satisfied and happy.

Hwy. 51 Revisited: Granada, Mississippi

By Jesse Brooks

As Highway 51 approaches Highway 8, the route faces a crossroads again. Grenada, Mississippi. There’s a town square with local businesses sitting all in a neatly kept row. The further down the highway we go, the scene begins to look familiar. So, why come to Grenada? The answer may be the water.

071315_Hwy_51_Grenada

 

VIEWS- The edge of Granada Lake. Photo by Jesse Brooks

Grenada was formed in 1836 after the rival towns of Pittsburg and Tullahoma were joined together in a “marriage ceremony” to combine the population. Prior to the arrival of the railroad in the 1860s, Grenada’s trade operated through transportation on the Yalobusha River.

East of the river sits the present day site of Grenada Lake, a reservoir constructed to help regulate flooding along the Yazoo River Basin. The dam was built in 1954 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a $32 million price tag.
On the south end of the massive lake, Hugh White State Park, named for a Mississippi state governor, is located. The park is home to one of the best campgrounds Mississippi has to offer. This biggest attraction of the state park is fishing in Grenada Lake. Mostly popular among crappie fishermen, the lake is also plentiful with bass, bream, and catfish. Hugh White State Park is a popular destination for overnight campers. Aside from locations for RVs and tents, there are numerous sites that feature cabins with plenty of scenic views of the lake.
Families ready for a nice dinner after experiencing some outdoor life may feel called to visit the 333 Restaurant. With a $11-30 price range, the best “bang-for-your-buck” can be found at this seafood-and-steak restaurant where portions often leave out in “to-go” boxes. Mississippi Delta favorites like bacon-wrapped shrimp can be found here, either as a main course, an appetizer, or side to go with a top-rated steak. With fried catfish, fried chicken, crawfish, ribs, and much more, there are plenty selections in which to choose what your heart may desire.

As travelers get back on the highway leaving Grenada, it’s important to note the landscape is beginning to change a lot since coming up further south. Grenada is right on the edge of the delta, and the lush hill country reflects that. As the water flows, so does the migration of people for generations. As for travelers on this highway, prepare to be further soaked in the weight of the Mississippi Delta.

EDITORIAL: Saying Goodbye to Anthony Bourdain is Nearly Impossible

TF-anthony-bourdain-620x400

By Jesse Brooks

As I write this, we are at the end of the second day since we learned that we lost Anthony Bourdain, world-renown chef, television host and author. He took his life at the age of 61.

On Thursday night, I was preparing to go to bed and I was bored. My wife, a nurse, was working a night shift at the hospital and I needed to pass the time. I opened my laptop and decided to stream Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown. I watched an episode where he visits the wild picturesque southern coastline of Italy’s heel. The lasting image I had of Bourdain before I fell asleep was of someone incredibly alive, engaged and fearless.

Imagine the confusing shock when I woke up at 7 a.m. the next morning to read the terrible news. I checked every avenue to make sure it was not a social media hoax. In the most abrasive way, I was introduced to a new reality about someone I had felt connected to ever since the beginning of my self discovery period as an young adult.

There was a lot to unpack that morning emotionally. I had a day full of duties I had to carry out but I felt I was moving slower and out of step. I have seen celebrities come and go in my lifetime, but this one stuck with me.

I remember when Prince died a couple of years ago I found it sad, and I understood his status as an icon and the influence he left behind. But I felt a kind of grief for Bourdain I had never felt for someone I never actually met. Why?

I enjoy cooking, but I have never been a chef. I grew up rural and have never been a resident of a mega city. I have never had a drug habit that I needed to rehab from, and though I have been known to enjoy a drink or three, my consumption of alcohol has never resulted in an addiction problem. I have been outside of the U.S. on three short, very controlled trips. So how is it that I could ever see a version of myself in him?

I started watching a lot of things on the Food Network and Travel Channel out of boredom when I was high school if nothing was on MTV or Comedy Central. My family planned a lot of summer road trips, and I would be curious about possible new destinations. In the mix of programming, Bourdain was there. It felt like he was always there. In keeping in the spirit of my family’s “do as the locals do” road trip attitude, Bourdain’s narratives always stood out to me as better than ones found on other shows. Not only was he someone we got to know, he was someone we trusted.

So the more familiar with culture programming I became, the more I sought Bourdain out. As I began to develop as person, I was observing his techniques, his takes, his swagger and his narrative. I was a young garage rocker coming up in the post-9/11, post-Katrina South, that began to feel that there were social, economic and political rules that needed to be challenged. I found that freedom in Bourdain and I wanted it for myself.

Bourdain also loved my native state of Louisiana, a place my early 20s self wanted to run away from. His love for New Orleans was immense and it was not a “city after the storm” kind of love. He had visited The Big Easy as far back as his 2002-03 show A Cook’s Tour, in an episode that featured him staying in the rooms above the R Bar on Frenchman Street and ordering take out from the Verti Marte food store. When it came to New Orleans, he just “got it”. Bourdain also visited Louisiana’s Acadiana region on No Reservations, and it reintroduced me to the cultures I have grown up with and taken for granted in my life. Bourdain recently returned to Southwest Louisiana to film a Cajun Mardi Gras episode of Parts Unknown, again, he got it. 

I began to notice Anthony Bourdain, not the celebrity chef, but the populist. Through his populism, it was becoming abundantly clear that untold narratives are everywhere in the world. At the end of the day, no matter if you live on the bluest of coasts or in mid-land red, you will find that most of us represent shades of purple when we sit together and break bread. You will not experience this in a comments section or message board. Understanding requires entry into reality and experiencing the world of fellow human beings.

Many hipsters will compare him to Hunter S. Thompson, and I suppose that’s fair enough, but to me Bourdain and his narrative reminded me of Ernest Hemingway, if he were a less violent and balanced character with the charisma for the television screen. His tales of beating addiction were inspiring and made people feel hopeful about themselves. If he could do that, you can do anything. I watched all the shows and read all his books.

When I began writing professionally, I would relate everything I did back to him. I wanted my voice to have his rhythm because Bourdain sounded like smooth jazz, just enough improvisation to be interesting and enough control to hold attention. When I started writing about culture, I realized that I don’t have an awesome budget, but what is in my backyard can be interesting because it’s foreign and exotic to someone out there. I learned that from him.

In 2016, I started a column as a staff member at the Amite Tangi Digest newspaper called “Hwy. 51: Revisited”. It focused on non-interstate highway travel from where I live in Tangipahoa Parish all the way to Memphis, Tennessee. All of these stops, mere hours away from my home, had surprising moments in the great timeline of American history. It was a journey of the bygone timber industry, development of the railroad, food, civil rights, blues and rock-n-roll. It was the story of us. I received a third place mention for the Sam Hannah Award for this column at the Louisiana Press Association Awards Ceremony the following summer. The project was completely inspired by the Jackson, Mississippi episode of Parts Unknown. 

I am completely aware that Bourdain motivated me to work. As I started to get recognized professionally for the first time in my life, people noticed this, mostly friends and readers, and I wore that badge proudly.

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 11.40.25 PM

Now in the wake of his passing, the void feels odd. Everything reminds me of him. In my small town of Hammond, Louisiana, there are now two pho restaurants, an Indian restaurant (in a gas station) and a ramen restaurant currently in construction. I honestly believe this incorporation of culture, once seen as foreign, in Small Town, U.S.A. does not happen without him. He changed the way we eat, and he changed the way we saw each other.

I feel losing him is different because it probably scares the hell out of all of us that saw a version of us in him. We wanted have his life that seemed to be free from darkness. However, as much as we may see our selves in him, or strived to be him, we need not to fear to live life with freedom and the understanding and care for others that he possessed. Bourdain fought a problem privately that is more common than we are willing to admit in America. To honor him, we must have empathy for those dealing with depression and advocate for them as he always did with cultures in need.

His mark on the world will live on. The best gift he gave to the world was confidence in his narrative, the outsider’s inside view, and may it stay alive for those seeking adventure.

“I don’t know any other way and by now I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Bourdain said in his last interview with Fast Company. “Life is good. Why settle for anything less?”

Oak Forest guard Janero Porter receives first college offer

DSC_2202
TRUST THE PROCESS- Oak Forest Academy point guard Janero Porter has received his first college offer from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas. Photo by Matthew Roy.

By Jesse Brooks

AMITE- Patience paid off for Janero Porter, a recent graduate of Oak Forest Academy, as he has finally received his first athletic scholarship to play basketball. The full ride opportunity comes from from Tabor College, a NAIA school from Hillsboro, Kansas.

Porter spent most of last season with a knee injury that held him to a minutes restriction when he did play. This season, he bounced back to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 20-10 overall record and a trip to the semifinal round of the MAIS AAAA Div. 1 State Tournament as the squad’s starting point guard.

Porter played as a facilitating point guard averaging 15.4 points, 8.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 steals per game for his senior season.

Tabor College is a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference of the NAIA and finished with an overall record of 14-15 this season under head coach Micah Ratzlaff, who is in his 11th season with the Blue Jays.

Porter still has yet to determine is college landing spot. The siging period for NCAA Div. I basketball has closed, but he has until August 1 to sign a letter of intent for a school from Div. II, NAIA or junior college.

Porter is the second player from Oak Forest, under head coach Curtis Matherne, to receive a NAIA offer this season. Forward Chris Backa signed a letter of intent to play for LSU-Alexandria last month.

MUSIC REVIEW: Hammond Rapper J. Quick shows a harder edge with “Can’t Lose Faith”

fUFkLFSJ
REFLECTIONS- Hammond rapper J. Quick (a.k.a. Jarius Burton) attempts to small town dreams into big city realities. Photo submitted.

By Jesse Brooks

For anyone young in America right now, figuring out how to manage day-to-day living while facing an ever growing income inequality gap is a harsh reality. This especially rings true for young African-Americans trying to accomplish that and more.

The awareness of this reality is something being explored by rapper J.Quick (a.k.a Jarius Burton) from Hammond, Louisiana. Quick has been building a career in hip-hop ever since he was a teenager, and at age 22, he somewhat has the feeling of a veteran on the scene.

Though Quick himself may feel like he has been on the grind for years, his reality is that he and his career are young. As he has completed projects as a recording artist, his sound and narratives have been in a constant flux.

His latest release, an E.P. entitled “Can’t Lose Faith”, is a departure from his past themes that dealt with relationships and heartbreak through Drake style hip-hop ballads. The current release is darker and more reflective, signs of a young artist diving headfirst into manhood.

fmD1rMWg
NOW PLAYING- Stream J. Quick’s “Can’t Lose Faith EP” right now for free on Sound Cloud.

Being a musician from Hammond, roughly 55 minutes north of New Orleans on I-55, can be tough due to a lack of media availability. It is a college town, but its markets are in between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which leaves the Tangipahoa Parish hub lost in the mix sometimes. Musicians from Hammond often have to compete twice as hard for gigs, sales or anything else with artists from more established urban bases.

Even for a small town, Hammond has its dangerous neighborhoods and immediately from the opening track, Quick paints an upbringing involving experiences of violence and drug dealing he witnessed. This is the first time Quick has ever brought his audience into his past, and by doing so he makes his case for an exit from that life.

Can’t Lose Faith was produced and mixed by Teveyon Bickham and sounds like an assortment of several styles of hip-hop from over the years. In the opening track and the fourth “Lost So Many” there are a lot of subtle nods to 90s style hip-hop, but it’s a hodgepodge of Death Row, Bad Boy and Cash Money. The sound reflects the pair of Hammond artists well since it tends to be the kind of town that absorbs everything. The harder sound fits the more mature viewpoints Quick is working through.

Perhaps the most striking track of the EP is the final one entitled “You Had to Be There.” In it, Quick envisions his neighborhood as a war zone with violence the audience would not be able to imagine. He describes an environment so riddled with violence that it can be hard to mentally rise above. If anyone closes their eyes, this could be in any town in America. The narrator endures scenes of violence and fears calling police in fear that the violence will be subjected to them.

Can’t Lose Faith is a sign of growth for Quick lyrically, showing that he wants to be an artist with a message. Quick seems to embrace growth as his social media presence is in a constant state of rebranding. He periodically shares images of himself in between promoting projects, and he also eventually removes all of his old work from the public. This is an artist experimenting and figuring out who they will become.

If Quick can expand out of the Hammond area, starting with this release, audience’s won’t lose faith with him.

Stream Quick’s work here:
YouTube
SoundCloud
Spotify
iTunes

Hwy. 51 Revisited: Canton, Mississippi

070616_Hwy51Canton2

Canton City Courthouse. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

Like Amite, McComb, Brookhaven, or any town along Highway 51 and its parallel railroad line, Canton, Mississippi is a town that has some origins as a supplier for the Confederate Army in the Civil War. The town experienced a boom of growth as the railroad expanded business in the nation’s transition into the early 1900s.

Canton is the seat of Madison County and the courthouse, a Greek Revival-style building that was built in the direct center of town in 1855 and is still serving its original purpose today. The building is a symbol of Canton’s greatest period of development in a town where the visual atmosphere feels like the past is the living present.

When walking around in Canton amongst perfectly preserved buildings of the post-Civil War era and clean city streets, it is easy to get the impression of a movie set. Canton actually is home to several filming locations and a movie studio called Mississippi Film Studios. Notable movies filmed in Canton are: “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?,” “A Time to Kill,” and “My Dog Skip.”

One of Canton’s biggest draws for outside visitors is its vintage and antique markets. Since 1910, the Buttross Department Store has been family owned and operated inside of the Courthouse Square. Ever since the beginning, the store has fulfilled clothing needs for local families. The Emporium in the Square is a store where you can find a little of everything: from clothing to antiques and jewelry to home décor for those who like a classic American look.

070616_Hwy51Canton_1

 

Downtown Canton, Mississippi. Photo by Jesse Brooks

On the second Thursday in May and October, the nationally-famous Canton Flea Market is held. Since 1965, the market has served as a giant public event that features locally-made products by area artisans and craftsmen. Similar to Vintage Market Days in Amite, the event puts local and regional vendors in the spotlight and serves as a family-friendly event centered around food, music, antiques, and clothing.

Road travelers in Canton may find the charm of local franchise Bumpers Drive is the perfect answer to hunger, thirst, or a sweet tooth. Bumpers, with a location off the highway at 2761 Liberty St., offers up all the drive-in classics: burgers, chicken strips, slushes, and ice cream. Bumpers is an excellent throwback to the days of highway travel when drivers could find the right treat and enjoy service that comes to the car.

Canton is different than most Highway 51 towns in that there are no ghosts to chase because the past is living in plain sight. Visiting Canton is like visiting a theme park that doesn’t require an admission fee. The next time anyone is searching for the “good old days,” they should try Canton, where the good old days are today.

Pelicans’ Mirotic gives back to local charity

Mirotic
WINNING LOOK- New Orleans Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic hosts free shave and haircut event at the New Orleans Mission. Photo submitted.

By Jesse Brooks

NEW ORLEANS- Nikola Mirotic, a forward for the New Orleans Pelicans, has already kicked off a busy offseason in the Crescent City by giving back to local charities.

On Wednesday, May 23, Mirotic teamed up with The New Orleans Mission and Gillette to host a free beard shaving and haircut event for those in need. The event also provided food and clothes for homeless individuals.
The New Orleans Mission is a charity organization that was founded in 1989 and they provide food, shelter, clothing and spiritual guidance to the city’s homeless population.

Mirotic made headlines this season after shaving off his instantly recognizable beard moments before an April 4 matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies to breakout of a scoring slump. Magically enough, the turnaround was instant as he went on to average 25.8 points and 12 rebounds in the five games that followed while shooting 56.3 percent from the field.

Mirotic’s improved beardless play continued on throughout the Pelicans’ first round sweep of the Portland Trailblazers in the opening round of the Western Conference Playoffs, and it landed him an endorsement deal with the Gillette shaving company.

Now thanks to the recent charitable event, the guests of the New Orleans Mission also get to enjoy the feeling of Mirotic’s winning shave as they spent a morning with the Pelicans’ hot shooting big man.

Mirotic, a native on Montenegro, was traded to the Pelicans on February 1 in exchange of Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen and a 2018 first round pick and is largely credited for help saving his new team’s season after All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins went down with an achilles injury. Since arriving in the Big Easy, Mirotic has enthusiastically participated in the New Orleans community.

“This has been an incredible year. I want to take a moment to thank everyone. Mrs. Benson, the front office, my coaches, teammates, staff, and especially the fans for welcoming me and my family to New Orleans with open arms!” Mirotic Tweeted earlier this month. “I’m very proud to be a part of the New Orleans Pelicans organization and look forward to building on what we accomplished this season!”

Additionally, Mirotic also took time to visit patients at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans on Thursday, May 24 as part of an unannounced appearance.

Though Mirotic has only been with the Pelicans for a short time so far, his impact on and off the court has been positive. His contributions helped elevate a team from falling out of the Western Conference race to becoming one of the most talented. As of now, signs point to Mirotic being a great fit in New Orleans.

“I love the city, the community is great,” Mirotic said in statement to Will Gillory of NOLA.com on May 14. “I want to be a part of a playoff team, and I want to be part of a team that really has fun. This has been like a family for me, and I’m looking forward. This is the place I want to be.”

Jay Artigues Sportsplex adds new services just in time for summer

IMG_0345
GROWING- The Jay Artigues Sportsplex has announced new training services and a full summer program that includes camps for kids. Photo by Jesse Brooks.

By Jesse Brooks

HAMMOND- The Jay Artigues Sportsplex, a multi-sport training facility located on Highway 51 northbound, has announced the availability of new services and full program of summer activities.

The Sportsplex, founded by current Southeastern athletic director Jay Artigues and former Oak Forest Academy baseball coach Tony Salim, was opened three years ago and started mostly as an indoor training facility for baseball, the only one of its kind in Tangipahoa Parish. Since Sportsplex’s opening year, the facility now offers training services for softball, cheerleading, tumbling and football in addition to baseball. Starting on June 4, they will offer strength and speed training as well.

“We have camps going on for everything from baseball to soccer to cheerleading, we just had a football camp so we really have it open to all sports,” said Salim, who now serves as manager and oversees the daily operations fulltime. “When we opened this place, Jay Artigues and I talked about this being one of our dreams for the area for several years, and at one point we finally said let’s go for it. We’ve grown a little bit every year. A lot of people think that it’s a baseball facility, which it is, but it offers much more than just baseball. We offer a lot of things for your kids to do.”

IMG_0346

BEAT THE HEAT- Now open at the Sportsplex, King Cone Ice Cream and Snowballs is serving up refreshments. Photo by Jesse Brooks

Salim also said that the stakes of high school sports have become a lot more competitive in recent years, and facilities like the Sportsplex that offer the latest equipment and services from trained professionals helps young athletes in the area gain an edge. By offering a competitive arena, the Sportsplex, which offers 10,000 square feet of indoor turf, promotes healthy lifestyles through competition for local area youth. As the facility grows and continues to include more sports, it gives opportunities to more kids to be occupied in athletic training.

The Sportsplex truly is the only facility in the area where youth and high school athletes have access to resources are of college and professional level quality. Currently, the facility has hosted several local high school cheer squads that have rented the indoor turf for practices.

“I think it makes the local youth better,” Salim said. “Not only is it a pure training facility as far as whenever you need one-on-one instruction when you’re trying to get better, but we’re also available for local area teams when it rains, which prevents them from missing a practice. Several years back, many of us never had access to something like that.”

One of the newest additions of equipment is the hit track system. Salim says this technology is used by Division I programs, and it tracks how far a batter’s swings go and it measures the exit velocity of each hit. The system also records the batter’s swings on video to watch and critique later.

Salim feels that the more competitive high school sports become, the more important it is for athletes to participate in travel ball. The Hammond Yankees are a youth travel team that was established by Artigues and Salim in 2011 and their home is the Sportsplex.

ifjs3TrcQOKSlE%rfAGs9Q

BEGINNINGS- The Hammond Yankee youth travel ball teams were founded by Jay Artigues and Tony Salim in 2011. Their home is the Sportsplex. 

“Anywhere from 10 to 20 kids have moved on to the college and professional ranks after playing Yankee ball,” Salim said. “Anyone can try out and we just try to get the best players possible. We’ve taken both experienced and raw kids. It just depends on what we think their potential can be.”

Wade Miley, who is a pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, has trained at the facility and has hosted camps there in the offseason. Kolton Kendrick, who plays within the Minnesota Twins organization, and Zach Clark, a player in the Brewers organization, also train at the Sportsplex in the offseason.

Beyond this summer, the growing continues for the Sportsplex. Salim confirmed that the facility has purchased additional land to expand the property to include turf fields with hopes of being able to host their own tournaments. The move should make Hammond a major hub for youth baseball within South Louisiana.

In addition to the sports services, the Sportplex also offers their space for birthday parties for kids.

“Obviously, there was a big need for birthday parties in the area,” Salim said. “Guests can come in and they have the entire turf area. There’s a variety of games kids can pick from that include kickball, dodgeball, wuffleball, and flag football that is organized and run by trained staff.”

Birthday packages include a field facilitator, a hostess, soft drinks and bounce houses by request.

This summer the Sportsplex will also host a regularly scheduled Parents’ Night Out that will last from 6-10 p.m. For $25 a guest, parents will be able to drop their children off for an event that includes activities, bounce houses and food in a package.

Next month the summer camp schedule will begin at the Sportsplex:
June 4- Barrett Morgan Baseball Camp from 5 to 7 p.m.
June 4-7- All Day Sports Camp from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
June 11- Chris McBride Soccer Camp from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Ages 5-13)
June 12-13- Kids’ Cheer Camp time TBA. (Ages 5-12)
June 18-21- Jay Artigues Baseball Camp from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Ages 9-13)
June 25-23- All Day Sports Camp from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
July 16-19- Jay Artigues Baseball Camp from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Ages 9-12)

For more information, please call (985) 956-7770 or visit jasportsplex.com.