By Dubois Daniels of Louisiana Biker Magazine
Veterans Day Weekend 2018 saw the running of the Bayou Renegade Rally, an ambitious multi-day progressive poker run that spanned the length of Louisiana. Running from Shreveport to Lake Charles, the event also served to kick off the Bicentennial Celebration of Louisiana’s “No Man’s Land.”
The Neutral Strip (No Man’s Land) draws its name from the area’s brief stint as the buffer zone between Spain and the United States after the Louisiana Purchase.
When the United States purchased the territory from France, Spain and the U.S. were in conflict over the boundary, near Natchitoches. In part, this confusion derived from the region’s long history, even before Spanish rule during the 1790s and 1800s, as a contested area with unclear boundaries. Moreover, to a large degree Spain governed the region with a blind eye, issuing land grants and allowing squatters and all manner of self-directed settlers, such as Native Americans who lost lands during the French-Indian War, to settle there in order to thwart American expansion. In lieu of an armed clash to decide the new territory’s borders, both governments agreed to remove all troops from the disputed area until boundaries could be determined, and the official Neutral Strip was born.
The region’s use as an official buffer between Louisiana and Spanish Texas lasted roughly from 1806 until the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty that established the Sabine River as the territory’s western boundary. While some may lump the culture of the very western portion of Louisiana into the general culture of Louisiana, others identify it as a separate folk region. Slow to be settled, and marked by a pivotal moment in history, the Neutral Strip region exhibits a culture colored by several pockets of diverse folk groups—like Native Americans, remnants of early Spanish colonies, Scots-Irish pioneers, African Americans, and others—who fiercely hold on to their traditions and notions of identity. Sometimes described as a place filled with an outlaw culture or as a region with a reputation for a tough and isolated place, the region is better understood as a bastion for those cultural groups who wished to find a home where they could preserve a way of life they cherished.
The Bayou Renegade Rally began at Sam’s Town Casino and Hotel in Shreveport. Stops along the way included the Village of Grand Cane, the Village of Florien Park, Downtown Powersports in Leesville, and the Historic Beauregard Jail in DeRidder, finally ending up at the Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles. A planned escorted ride through the Avenue of the Flags in Lake Charles was cancelled due to bad weather. Other events through the weekend included a bike show, slow bike races, stereo sound off, skeet shooting, and a $10,000 Slots Tournament at the Isle of Capri Casino. Being Louisiana, of course there was lots of great food and music all along the way.
Future events for the No Man’s Land Bicentennial Celebration will run through 2021.
More information can be found at: