From rich, cuisine to distinct local art groups will find many worthy keepsakes during their travels in the South. Instead of bringing back the usual postcard or ocean-themed necklace, try visiting one of these unique locations to discover what kind of craftsmanship the South can offer.
Avery Island, Louisiana
After Edmund McIlhenny first developed the recipe for Tabasco sauce in the 1860s, he went on to sell about 350,000 bottles over the course of 25 years, eventually passing on the business to other family members. Today, the factory produces 700,000 bottles per day.
On the lush landscape of Avery Island, Louisiana, groups can tour the Tabasco visitors center and museum seven days a week, accompanied per request by an on-site historian with extensive knowledge of Cajun culture.
According to John Simmons, a member of the McIlhenny family, the key ingredient to the sauce is time.
“What we do is grind heirloom Tabasco peppers with salt, put the mash into oak barrels and age it for three years,” said Simmons. “During that time, the colors change from a bright red to a deep, richer red, and from there you add vinegar.”
Since Avery Island sits atop a salt dome, some of the salt used in the product comes from the local mine, and visitors can stop by a mine exhibit for more information. Adjacent to the main center and museum, Restaurant 1868 enables guests to experience firsthand how contemporary chefs use the sauce in cuisine, from gourmet dishes to traditional Louisianan food like gumbo.
There is also a 170-acre botanical garden and bird sanctuary called Jungle Gardens that provides prime opportunities to catch a glimpse of local birds like egrets and roseate spoonbills.
“Avery Island lends itself to taking a good picture,” said Simmons.
Hatch Show Print
Founded by the Hatch family during the 1870s, Hatch Show Print specializes in crisp, minimalist designs that embody American culture and entertainment. During the Roaring ’20s, after moving to Music City, the print shop immortalized many famous artists, such as Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith and Duke Ellington, as well as numerous country stars.
Though the advent of offset and digital printing hurt the business for a number of years, Hatch Show Print continued to produce traditional letterpress works, relying on its long-standing relationship with the music industry. Today, the shop produces 500 to 600 posters each year as many artists and ad agencies opt for more original and vintage designs over digital print.
When groups visit the shop at its current location in the Country Music Hall of Fame, they can watch posters roll fresh off the presses in the central workshop, as well as peruse a gallery of the company’s signature designs. Groups can also possible schedule a class in the Hatch Show Print Space for Design, where participants learn about traditional printing techniques through a guided demonstration.