With the scenic Bayou Teche, giant Spanish-moss draped oak trees and the classic architecture of buildings like Shadows-on-the-Teche and the Sliman Theatre lining its streets, downtown New Iberia is an alluring spot for regional artists.

This Friday, when the city hosts one of its Artwalks, New Iberia's Main Street turns into an artists' quarter, with some 60 painters, sculptors and artisans displaying works down a four-block strip from Shadows-on-the-Teche to Epiphany Day School.

"It's something everyone really looks forward to," says Main Street Program Director Jane Braud.

Started by a grassroots coalition of local artists and businesses about two years ago, Braud says New Iberia's Artwalk, typically held just three times a year, continues to draw bigger crowds and more art.

"Depending on the viewers' tastes, I think we'll have something for everyone to enjoy," Braud says.

Featured artists will include wildlife photographer Mickey Delcambre, illustrator Kate Ferry, folk artist Paul Schexnayder, stained glass artist Kenny Greig and landscape painter Melissa Bonin.

The Friday Artwalk is just the beginning of New Iberia festivities planned for the weekend. On Saturday, L'Acadian Art Guild puts on the Shadows-on-the-Teche Arts & Crafts Show, where its members will gather around the gardens of the famed antebellum mansion to display their work.

Just up the road at Bouligny Plaza, line up for "The Great Gator Race" ' an annual benefit for Southern Mutual Help Association. Participants gather to watch hundreds of small plastic alligators, which can be sponsored for $5, race their way down Bayou Teche. The event also features food and live music. Capping off the weekend, the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra performs an outdoor concert Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. underneath the canopy of live oak trees in New Iberia's City Park. All events are free and open to the public.

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