Quick quiz on what might happen Friday evening, July 28, in Natchitoches at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’s Rockin’ River Fest, free to everybody on the beautiful downtown Rue Beauport stage:
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning might croon a tune after he’s introduced
Former LSU baseball coach Paul Maineri could dance a jig as he did after steering the Tigers to a 2009 College World Series crown
Rockin’ Dopsie & The Zydeco Twisters will have everybody in a deep Louisiana musical groove
Shreveport native Alana Beard, whose family hails from Cane River country, may water ski to the stage
All of the above, and who knows what else?
Anything is possible during the riverfront concert, which runs from 6 p.m. to 10:30. One of the highlights: at 9 o’clock, the Hall’s impressive Class of 2023, headlined by Manning, Mainieri and Beard, and presenting a very distinct LSU flavor, will be introduced on stage, and celebrated with a 10-minute fireworks show set to sports-themed music over Cane River Lake.
And yes, you read correctly. It’s free. There will be food and beverage vendors on the riverfront, and of course, Front Street’s always fun watering holes/restaurants are just a few steps away.
It’s family friendly. A free interactive kids zone presented by Louisiana Propane Dealers will include basketball, football, golf and science games for all ages to enjoy.
If you want to beat the summer heat and enjoy a tasty collection of Louisiana foods and specialty refreshments, you can visit LaSportsHall.com to snap up a few of the fast-disappearing $100 tickets to the VIP Taste of Tailgating presented by Hancock Whitney.
That party runs from 7-10 p.m. in the air-conditioned comfort of Mama’s Oyster House and Blues Room that will provide exclusive access to the 12-member 2023 Induction Class.
Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters are back as the headline act, just as they were when Eli’s big brother Peyton was in the Class of 2019. Dopsie has played the White House to the Jazz Fest, boogied with James Brown and John Fogerty, and wowed crowds all over, described as “Mick Jagger of the marsh” and note “a party seems to break out whenever and wherever Dopsie and his band show up.”
The opening act is Jason Ashley & The Hot Sauce Band, featuring the Alexandria native and regional country music star playing hits from yesterday and today, putting on shows popular around the Gulf Coast and all the way to Nashville.
The trio of Manning, Mainieri and Beard headline the 2023 inductees. Mainieri is one of five representing the Tigers of LSU, joined by Shreveport native and NFL receiver Wendell Davis, 14-year Major League Baseball pitcher Paul Byrd, two-time USA Olympic jumper Walter Davis and former baseball player M.L. Woodruff, going in on the strength of coaching 11 state champions at Parkview Baptist.
Beard was one of the brightest stars in women’s basketball at Duke and in the WNBA after an incredible high school career at Southwood in Shreveport. Tulane star Matt Forte became a Pro Bowl running back for the Chicago Bears. Walter Imahara won almost three dozen national weightlifting gold medals while competing into his late 60s. New Orleans native Ron Washington managed the Texas Rangers to two World Series, then won it all as the third base coach for the Atlanta Braves in 2021, and remains in that role at age 71.
Acclaimed south Louisiana sports journalists Bruce Brown and Lori Lyons round out the Class of 2023.
Join the fun and celebrate some of Louisiana’s sports greats, for free, on Friday evening, July 28, in downtown Natchitoches. For information on all of the events during the July 27-29 Class of 2023 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration, visit LaSportsHall.com or call 318-238-4255.