Grab your camo gear and grow your beard out just a little longer — you’re on your way to Duck Commander country.
In north-central Louisiana, Monroe and West Monroe have long been quiet towns, twin destinations separated from each other by the Ouachita River. The area has its share of historic and natural attractions, but recent years have brought newfound fame in the form of duck fever.
In 2012, the television show “Duck Dynasty” debuted on A&E; it features the misadventures of a family of avid duck hunters and Duck Commander, the outdoor sports supply business they have built in West Monroe. The show became an instant hit as millions of Americans fell in love with the Robertsons — Willie, Jase, Jep, Phil, Miss Kay and Uncle Si — as well as the family values and distinctively Southern culture they represent.
The show is filmed in and around West Monroe, and soon fans started visiting the area to see the locations for themselves.
“Our office has put together the official Duck Commander Hometown Tour,” said Harolyn Falgoust, senior convention and tourism sales manager for the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We meet a group at their hotel and then take them over to get a look at the Duck Commander warehouse.”
Visitors can’t go in the warehouse itself, which is still used to create the company ’s famous duck calls and other goods, but they can visit the on-site gift shop. The company sells branded shirts, caps and duck calls, as well as merchandise related to characters on the show, such as Miss Kay’s cookbooks and Uncle Si’s iced-tea cups.
From there, the tour continues to other sites that “Duck Dynasty” fans will recognize.
“We drive around to some of the different locations where they’ve done episodes,” Falgoust said. “We pass the doughnut shop where they had the doughnut-eating contest; then we take them to see the White Ferry Church of Christ, where the family goes to church. If time permits, they can eat a snowball at Debbie’s Snowballs.”
After checking out the Duck Commander sites around town, groups should stick around to experience some of the area’s historic, cultural and natural attractions.
Biedenharn Museum and Gardens
Most people associate Coca-Cola with Atlanta, where it was created, but a Monroe resident played an integral part in the beverage brand’s rise to dominance. In 1894, a candy-maker named Joseph Biedenharn became the first person to bottle the drink, which is now sold in 200 countries.
Today, Biedenharn Museum and Gardens in Monroe is the estate built on the bottler’s legacy. Groups can tour the Biedenharn’s elegant home and gardens on the grounds. There are also two museums on-site: The Coke Museum has a replica of a vintage soda fountain, as well as a collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia. The second museum building showcases historic bibles and other religious artifacts.