Rebranding the River Region
Exploring the River Parishes Tourist Commission’s New Sub-Brands
Developments and innovations abound not just inside the Port, but around it, too, as the River Region is seeing widespread reinvigoration. For evidence, look no further than the River Parishes Tourist Commission, which has made the most of a year rife with unprecedented challenges for the hospitality and tourism industry by launching a complete rebrand.
Formerly known as New Orleans Plantation Company, RPTC’s new vision is rooted in perception: specifically, ensuring that people know about all the attractions the region has to offer apart from, but still including, plantations.
“These sub brands are a way for us to activate different sectors in the River Parishes,” says Buddy Boe, RPTC Executive Director. “Until it’s all presented on one map, you don’t realize how much of an outdoor, recreational and culinary destination we are and can be.”
Those news sub-brands are New Orleans Swamp Country, Andouille Trail, Bonfire Country, New Orleans Plantation Country, and the 1811 Slave Revolt Trail. Each sub-brand is designed to highlight and maximize the potential of a different element of culture or history in the region. Doing so will also present opportunities for tourism and business partners to gain further exposure not only with visitors, but from locals who might not know about all the region’s cultural strengths.
“We want to give people of any interests a reason to visit the River Region,” Boe says. “The only thing we can’t do is ski.”
New Orleans Swamp Country
The Swamp Country sub-brand is intended to position the River Parishes as an outdoor destination, which Boe says is an often-overlooked but vibrant asset to the area. Nature and biking trails, swamp and airboat tours, and a zipline attraction allow visitors to experience the swamp’s ecosystem and wildlife up close.
More than 30 attractions are outlined on the Swamp Country map, spanning the Maurepas, Pontchartrain, and Des Allemands lakes and the Manchac Swamp. Visitors looking for an even more immersive, eco-educational experience can use one of the trail’s many kayak launches to observe gators in their natural habitat, or learn about the native landscape through a guided tour with a regional ambassador.
New Orleans Plantation Country
Originally the umbrella brand for RPTC, the reimagined Plantation Country sub-brand highlights the diverse history and architecture located in the River Parishes. While visitors tour nine plantation homes, slave cabins and historic structures, they’ll learn about the traditions and operations of plantations with interactive demonstrations and costumed interpreters. Original artifacts and documents paint an intimate and honest look at the stories of those, both free and enslaved, who built and worked the plantations. On-site dining, lodging and an RV park are also available for those seeking an overnight experience.
A staple in Cajun and Creoke kitchens, andouille was born in the River Parishes as a result of blending French and German culinary traditions. The Andouille Trail is a complete sensory experience, where visitors can “follow the links” and taste more than 30 distinct andouille flavors, or watch pitmasters craft links with their own unique seasonings and smoking techniques. It’s a way to celebrate the rich culinary history of the River Regions year-round, complementing the annual Andouille Festival in LaPlace. After visiting five locations on the Andouille Trail and mailing in receipts, visitors will be sent back a novelty wooden spoon to use in crafting their own andouille dishes.
The history of Christmas bonfires in the River Parishes dates back hundreds of years, and while its precise origins are still debated, the legacy and tradition still shines bright today. Every holiday season, friends and families gather atop the Mississippi River levees to construct towering structures that enchant and dazzle when lit. The new Bonfire Country sub-brand is the first time these bonfires have been officially positioned as a tourism asset, helping to attract both new and experienced revelers with interactive history and bonfire-building lessons. A Festival of the Bonfires is set to launch in 2021, helping to further expand the ways in which visitors can experience this storied tradition.
1811 Slave Revolt Trail
It would be impossible to fully embrace the history and culture of the River Region without acknowledgement of the enslaved revolutionaries who led America’s first freedom march. The 1811 Slave Revolt Trail is designed to honor the revolutionaries behind this historic event and to explore its lasting implications. Visitors are given the name of a revolter at the start of the trail and are able to explore their background, journey and, ultimately, their fate. The trail spans between the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House and Destrehan Plantation, with significant events highlighted at stopping points throughout and additional education available at Whitney Plantation and the Historic Riverlands Christian Center.