West Franklin Street's present identity maintains its storied past

Mar 3, 2014

It’s Mardi Gras, and down in New Orleans, the rum is freely flowing and the beignets are piled high with powdered sugar.

Here in Evansville, Franklin Street is gearing up for its second annual bar crawl and its first ever parade.

Lamasco's Bar and Grill, for example, shored up 1,000 pounds of crawfish and 500 pounds of oysters, said owner Amy Word. 

During last year's Mardi Gras crawl, the bars ran out of beer from the unexpected crowd of several thousand bar hoppers. Word says this time around, the bars have "hoarded" enough beer in their cellars to prevent another shortage.

As we'll hear in the first segment of this program, the West Side is famous for its festival culture – so Mardi Gras seems fitting. We'll take a look at the neighborhood's roots and family ties to hear why.

Mary Jo Huff, a local storyteller, talks about the Franklin Street of the olden days. She says this side of town is still generating an energetic pride that supports small businesses.

Host John Gibson talks with Philip Hooper, the director of the Department of Metropolitan Development, about the City's efforts to brand five cultural districts in Evansville, which includes the West Franklin area. Hooper calls Franklin Street the "healthiest urban corridor in Indiana" because of the numerous shops, restaurants and small businesses.

Finally, we'll talk to one of those small businesses, a newcomer, to hear why its owners chose to set up shop on Franklin and how the reception from the neighborhood has been so far.