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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

Preserve America Community:
Ferriday, Louisiana

Ferriday, Louisiana, (population 3,723) is a small town in east central Louisiana. Ferriday was founded in 1905, and for most of its existence has relied on an agricultural, railroad, and timber based economy. The town has experienced economic decline due to the clearing of most of the timber in the 1970s, the abandonment of the railroad in the early 1980s, and hardship experienced by farmers in recent years. The community is seeking to improve the local economy by developing cultural heritage based tourism.

Ferriday has a rich musical heritage. Natives of Ferriday include Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Jimmy Swaggart, and Howard K. Smith. This musical heritage is celebrated every year with the Delta Music Festival. The festival, held the first Saturday of April, includes live music performances, with vendors selling food, crafts, and games.

The Delta Music Museum focuses on the famous musicians who were born or lived in the Mississippi River Delta. Housed in the old post office building, the museum opened in 2001 as a cooperative effort between the town of Ferriday, the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office, and the Friends of the Delta Music Museum. The Hall of Fame honors prominent musicians with a facial plaque set in stone. Most of the exhibits and memorabilia in the museum were donated by musicians or local citizens. The Friends of the Delta Museum is an entirely volunteer group, and members serve as hosts to visitors, arrange new exhibits, and plan and host major events.

The town of Ferriday, the Friends of the Delta Music Museum, and the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office also worked together to restore the Arcade Theater. The theater opened in 1926 as a movie theater and closed in the early 1980s. The restoration work was done in 2007 and 2008, and the venue reopened on March 12, 2008. Since its reopening, the theater has been the site of music performances, Smithsonian travelling exhibits with a music theme, and the Ferriday Song Festival.

For more information:

Town of Ferriday: www.townofferriday.com

Delta Music Museum: www.sos.louisiana.gov/tabid/238/Default.aspx

Posted August 3, 2009

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