The Edmond Sun

Arts & Entertainment

April 26, 2014

The Louisiana bayous come to Enid

ENID, Okla. — “Gator Queen” Liz Choate and her daughter, “Gator Princess” Jessica Cavalier, were at this year’s Enid Home Show for just a few seconds before they started getting recognized.

The mother and daughter team star on the History Channel’s “Swamp People,” a show that depicts life in the bayous of Louisiana, and will be signing autographs and meeting with fans throughout this year’s show at Chisholm Trail Expo Center.

For Choate, gator hunting, as depicted in the show, is just a part of her life and the lives of her family. Raised in Louisiana, Choate said she was taken on alligator hunts with her mother and father as a baby.

“I was raised with my momma and daddy doing it,” she said. “She used to tell me stories. She said she’d keep the bottles in the ice chest and she’d set it on the bow and the sun would heat it up.”

Cavalier said she would get mad as a child because the one-month alligator hunting season, which is in September, conflicted with school.

“I was always at school during the season,” she said, admitted to pitching a few fits because of the situation. “You best believe she (Choate) would come and check me out. I wasn’t going to miss gator season.”

“Swamp People” is airing its fifth season. Choate has been on the show several seasons and now alligator hunts with her daughter. Both said the biggest impact the show has had on their lives is the recognition it has brought.

“I’m still not used to that. I’ll never get used to that,” Choate said, wearing her tan shirt and blue Frontier City hat. “Everywhere we go people recognize us. Whether I’m dressed like this or dressed down, bummed down to the max.”

But aside from the attention, Choate said her life pretty much remains the same.

“As far as my life changing, that didn’t change. I’m still enjoying what I always did do before all this happened. Except for the appearances. That’s the only thing that’s changed.”

Choate said she’s been recognized while shopping in Wal-Mart. Fans approach her wanting to know what she’s doing at the store.

“People actually see me at Wal-Mart and I’m getting my tissue paper and they ask me, ‘What are you doing Mrs. Liz?’” she said. “Well, I’m here to get our toilet paper like you.”

Choate said she thought “Swamp People” would catch people’s attention because of how different Louisiana was to the rest of the country.

“We’ve been to lots of states, and it’s totally different from what we have down there,” she said. “When people come down to Louisiana they’re in awe because of the all swamps, all the cypress trees.”

Cavalier said the show is far more than people hunting alligators.

“It’s actually like the history of Louisiana,” she said.

Both women agreed alligator hunting has long been a way of life for those in their state.

“So many old-timers like my dad and his dad did it before him,” Choate said. “We call them old-timers out there because they’ve been doing it all their lives. It’s a family tradition, coming down from generations.”

“And I’ll pass it down to my children and hopefully my children will pass it down to theirs,” Cavalier added.

Both woman said the alligator hunt, which lasts for about a month, helps keep an important balance in the swamps.

“There is not one part of an alligator that’s not used,” Choate said. “It’s used for food or anything you can think of.”

During the alligator season, the women work from sunup to sundown in an attempt to fill a strictly controlled number of tags.

“It’s from daylight to dark and it’s so hot,” Choate said. “You’ve still got to incorporate the other things you do in your life into parts of the show. When you are on the show, you gotta do what they want you to do. I really want to show people what we do.”

“It’s our real life,” Cavalier said.

However, the show is not without its critics.

“People actually think we kill alligators for fun. We’ve been called monsters, killers,” Choate said. “I get offended by it, but on the other hand there is a lot of people that don’t understand what is going on. It’s conservation.”

Both Choate and Cavalier said if there was no alligator season the animals would run amok, wandering into people’s yards eating pets or people.

“It’s not like we waste them. They’re used,” Cavalier said. “It’s not for fun.”

She said the hunting season was needed to control the population.

“They would be everywhere,” Cavalier said.

Choate said there is a “fine line” when it comes to hunting alligator.

“It’s respect, you know. When we alligator hunt, I respect the territory we’re in. It’s an animal you’re hunting, but you’ve got to respect them,” she said. “I’ve always respected hunting. You get what you need to get, but you don’t get greedy.

“If you don’t have respect for what you do, you don’t need to be out there.”

After less than an hour into the Enid Home Show, the “Swamp People” table already had a long line of fans wanting to meet Choate and Cavalier, as well as Justin, Choate’s husband and newest member of the alligator hunting team.

Choate said her favorite thing about meeting fans is the little kids.

“I love the little kids. They look at you like you’re just — I don’t know how to explain it,” she said. “It’s like when I was little with Superman or Wonder Woman.”

“They look at me and see I’m younger,” Cavalier said. “The little ones look up to me a lot.”

“They make it all worthwhile, coming out here and doing this,” Choate said. “I meet quite a few little ones that are actually shaking. Some of them will actually cry and that breaks my heart. My heart just melts.”

Fans can meet the Gator Queen and Gator Princess during the 39th annual Enid Homes Show. Along with T-shirts and souvenirs being sold, two alligator claw cellphone cases and two autographed 10-foot alligator skulls are on silent auction, with a part of the proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Enid Homes Show continues 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $3, with children 12 and under admitted for free.

1
Text Only
Arts & Entertainment
  • Oliver 7-29 Good Reads

    NOTE: Email dpeery@edmondsun.com to have your name entered into a drawing for the following titles: “Oliver and the Seawigs” and/or “The Strange Maid.” Deadline is 10 a.m. Aug. 28. Winner will be notified by return email. Winner is responsible for picking up the book at The Edmond Sun at 123 S. Broadway. All entrants must be 18 or older to win.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • jc_Earp Marlin 2 - photo credit Noel Winters.jpg Shootout of a sale

    An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 80.
    Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Carpenter Square Carpenter Square Theatre Presents ‘Fibs’

    For two nights only, Carpenter Square Theatre presents Albert Bostick’s one-man show “Fabulous Fibs, Fables, and Folklore.”  Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 2 and 9 at the theater at 800 W. Main in downtown Oklahoma City.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Science Museum Oklahoma to exhibit Power Play

    Designed to test strength, speed, stamina, flexibility and balance, Science Museum Oklahoma’s new exhibit — Power Play — explores human physiology and the power of the human body. Power Play is now open to the public.

    July 25, 2014

  • Discard the boredom of family game night

    We’re all about families having fun together, and game night is one of the best ways to do that. But playing the same games over and over can get a little stale. So in the interests of injecting a little more fun into your family’s game night, here are some great choices that will keep you and yours engaged and laughing.

    July 25, 2014

  • OBU dance team celebrates National Dance Day

    In 2010, “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe created National Dance Day in an effort to help people embrace dance and combat obesity on the last Saturday in July.
    This year, on July 26, Oklahoma Baptist University’s dance team will host a fundraiser that allows participants to dance all day for $30. The fundraiser will be in the Noble Complex on OBU’s campus.
    Cami Gower, an OBU junior and co-captain/co-founder of the dance team, said the team’s officers have been planning for their upcoming season since April. Gower is a graduate of Deer Creek High School.
    “Since then we have been coming up with better ways to reach the community with dance,” she said. “This day of dance was a great way to do it and help the team raise funds.”

    July 24, 2014

  • Never Girls Good Reads

    NOTE: Email dpeery@edmondsun.com to have your name entered into a drawing for the following titles: “The Never Girls: A Pinch of Magic” and/or “The Secrets of Tree Taylor.” Deadline is 10 a.m. July 28. Winner will be notified by return email. Winner is responsible for picking up the book at The Edmond Sun at 123 S. Broadway. All entrants must be 18 or older to win.

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • garner4.jpg Family, friends remember Garner’s Norman roots

    Flowers started arriving at the James Garner statue at Main Street and Jones Avenue Sunday morning after residents learned of the famed actor and Norman native’s death Saturday night in California.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Banjo 1 American Banjo Museum offers look at past

    What do you call perfect pitch?  If you can throw a banjo through the window and onto the garbage truck!  My brother-in-law, a musician, told me this joke.  Boy, the banjo is the Rodney Dangerfield of instruments — it gets no respect.  Well, get ready to appreciate the banjo for its history and heritage — at the American Banjo Museum in OKC’s Bricktown. This cool museum takes you through 370 years of banjo history in eight minutes, then settles down to give you details which will keep you interested for many more.

    July 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • Enjoy affordable romance in Dahlonega, Ga.

    Nestled in the mountains of northern Georgia against the Chattahoochee National Forest lies a tiny town that offers an authentic peek at a time long past. The charm of yesteryear combined with the calm of nature, friendly locals and the fun of back country roads dotted with vineyards and tasting rooms results in the perfect getaway for couples in search of a romantic escape or honeymoon destination. Those headed to Dahlonega for an intimate weekend will want to consider the following itinerary items.

    July 19, 2014