Melrose to host 48th once-a-year Arts and Crafts Pageant under new director Leah Dunn Witman

Nathan Wilson | Reporter
As government director of historic Melrose Plantation, Leah Dunn Witman is preparing to host the annual Arts and Crafts Pageant April 23-24.
Witman has two priorities in thoughts. Her mission is preserving the legacy of Melrose as an historic web site, although her aim is to restore it as the middle of a creative community. “The future prepare for Melrose is to acquire extra membership, have additional community involvement, host far more systems and to get people today again out (here) to continue to keep the memory of Melrose alive,” she mentioned.
With much more than two a long time of event setting up practical experience, Witman is no stranger to organizing celebrations. “We hope to host far more situations and more substantial activities at Melrose.” Her initial time internet hosting the Arts and Crafts Festival guarantees to be well attended “We have around 80 vendors now, so we’re thrilled.” she claims.

This report published in the April 21, 2022, print version

Witman originally studied theater and put in decades as a performer for the Walt Disney Earth concept park in which she acted in plays and showcased in advertising functions. Now she is applying her performative encounter to the history of Melrose. She hopes boosting the presentation of Melrose’s story will illustrate remarkable elements, “so individuals can test to relate to the story far more, which is wherever the theater knowledge will come in,” she claims.

As Witman sees it, area involvement is vital. “We know there is a have to have for additional neighborhood ambiance,” she states. “We want to be in a position to present whatsoever we can to the group.” She sees the Arts and Crafts Pageant as an possibility for volunteers to participate and take a look at Melrose at the exact time, “If they want to be on the record they can get in touch with me or e-mail me at 318-663-0143 and the e-mail is [email protected].” Afterward, she’s wanting forward to a assortment of pursuits together with taking part in bridal demonstrates, hosting events and arranging holiday functions.

Leah Dunn Witman discusses removal of a honey bee hive with beekeeper Tim Haley.

A single of Witman’s goals is to rebuild Melrose’s ties to the artwork local community. “We’re going to be internet hosting distinctive artists on the residence just what Melrose is recognised for.” She describes Melrose’s partnership with NSU to offer their learners a gallery place throughout the pageant. “The artwork department at Northwestern (are) likely to have some students in the barn,” she claims. They will not be handling cattle or accumulating eggs while. “They’ll be marketing their artwork,” she clarifies.

Witman in character for a theater functionality

A different of Witman’s options is to collaborate with educators to develop curriculum for just about every quality. “We’re hoping to husband or wife with neighborhood lecturers in the central Louisiana place to create curriculum,” she suggests. “When they get to Melrose they’ll have a minimal little bit of the track record information for what they are learning about that day.” She thinks relating the tale of Melrose to broader historical subject areas would also convey extra households. “Because I homeschool my young ones, I know that would be this kind of a unique find,” she says.

Witman is looking forward to increasing Melrose’s profile in the community. “People in town are likely to start out listening to about us a lot additional again,” she says. “We’re likely to be on everyone’s radar.”

Melrose Arts & Crafts Festival April 23 – 24
The 48th annual Melrose Arts and Crafts Competition is scheduled for April 23 -24 in accordance to Vicki Parrish, president of the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN), sponsor of the party.
This once-a-year outside celebration will element more than 80 distributors offering hand-manufactured items, numerous of which are 1-of-a-type. Among the items available will be authentic artwork, gourmet tea and jellies, hand-designed jewellery, outfits, candles, pottery, wreaths, toys, woodworking solutions, wrought iron artwork and other arts and crafts.
Guided excursions of the plantation dwelling, the “Big Dwelling,” and African Residence will be obtainable. Many renowned writers and artists visited and lived at the plantation. Almost certainly the ideal regarded resident of Melrose was Clementine Hunter, who arrived to the plantation as a industry hand and taught herself to paint applying paints and brushes discarded by an artist at Melrose. The restored Clementine Hunter murals are on exhibit in their authentic house on the 2nd ground of the African Property. Hunter’s paintings have gained nationwide and worldwide notoriety, and some of her will work hang in the Louvre in Paris. She is one of the most acknowledged primitive artists in Louisiana history.
The pageant is sponsored by APHN and per year attracts more than 2,000 readers through the two-working day occasion. The Melrose Arts and Crafts Competition will open up at 9 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 for older people and $2 for children ages 6-12. Tickets for tours of the Large Household are $5.
Extra information about Historic Melrose and the yearly Arts and Crafts Competition may be found at: Tickets can be pre-ordered on Eventbrite at: