Fingers are crossed. Wood has been knocked. Salt has been heaved over shoulders and all the spare change has been dumped in a wishing well in hopes that this year’s White Linen events will officially be back for good.
It’s been a game of on-again, off-again for both White Linen events as they’ve been canceled the past two years because of COVID-19. But this year, it’s been smooth sailing, said Slidell organizer Alex Carollo with a hopeful grin, and the downtown parties are expected to come back with a bang.
The arts-based events, organized to bring lively parties to the streets of Olde Towne Slidell and downtown Covington, will return this month. Slidell will host its White Linen and Lagniappe event from 6 pm to 9 pm Aug. 13. Covington’s White Linen for Public Art event will take place from 6 pm to 9 pm Aug. 20. Both events are free.
“Our tag line is hot food, cold drinks, antique, boutique and unique shopping and lagniappe around every corner,” said Carollo, director of cultural and public affairs for the city of Slidell.
In Slidell, the event will transform the streets of Olde Towne into a sea of white as the tag line of the event is also the unofficial dress code. A host of bands will set the mood on various streets, as restaurants, bars and stores throughout the district open their doors for the occasion. Most will offer a White Linen special, said Carollo, such as a themed cocktail or special meal, while others will offer treats or other surprises. Many businesses will host an artist to display their work, a signature piece of the event that puts a focus on the local arts.
“The thing I love about this event is it really highlights all the arts: visual arts, performing arts, culinary arts,” Carollo said. “All art forms are represented.”
Then, of course, there is the “lagniappe,” piece of it, said Carollo, which means guests will find “a little something extra” pop up throughout the event. In this past, guests have run into stilt walkers and glass blowers, among other surprises. Additionally, an art market will be set up at the Green Oaks Apothecary parking lot and feature 25 artists, children’s activities and a “cooling station” for pets.
In Covington, the scene will be a similar vibe with music igniting the air as restaurants, bars, stores and businesses open their doors in a similar manner. They, too, will host local artists, offer special meals and drinks and other surprises. A variety of bands will be scattered throughout the downtown’s Cultural Arts District, where parts of North New Hampshire, Gibson and Columbia streets will be blocked off from traffic. The St. Tammany Art Association will set up its “Arts Under the Oaks” art market on Boston Street and galleries throughout the district will show off their work as well. A food vendor corridor will be set up along Gibson Street.
During the event, businesses in the district will donate 10% of their pretax sales to the Covington Public Art Fund, said Danny Saladino, gallery owner and board member on the CPAF. Funds raised from the event will go toward a project to bring a community hardscape labyrinth to Covington. The labyrinth will be constructed on a piece of land on Columbia Street. A labyrinth is traditionally a path in a unicursal shape used to inspire reflection, meditation and creativity.
“The way it’s arranged is, you don’t have to come out and purchase an oil painting or sculpture (to help),” Saladino said. “Any glass of wine, meal or cocktail will benefit the arts.”
Saladino said the Covington event has drawn a big crowd in the past and he expects that again this year, especially after the two-year COVID hiatus.
“The cultural arts, we’ve been kicked around a little bit the last couple of years, so we’re looking forward to hosting this event,” he said.
As for artists, the events are a great addition to the north shore, where the art scene is growing with each passing year. Keith Dellsperger, a local artist who was chosen as the poster artist for Slidell’s White Linen event, said it’s great to see Slidell “really coming into its own little cultural world.”
Dellsperger’s piece “Like This, Mommy?” was chosen as the poster art for the city’s White Linen night. Dellsperger, who spent 30 years as a plumber before returning to the art world, said it means a lot to be recognized by his city.
“Any time you’re recognized by a local cultural commission here in Slidell and the city and the mayor, you just feel like, ‘Wow,'” said Dellsperger. “I can’t say I’ve arrived, but hey this is great. People recognized this is as a beautiful piece of art. “