No cancelation expected for 2021 Acadian Festival

Staff Report

The 2021 International Acadian Festival will roll into action one year after the first cancelation in the event’s 52-year history, according to organizers for the weekend-long bash.

A large variety of rides will be part of this year’s International Acadian Festival, which will return this year after an absence in 2020.

The event is scheduled for Oct. 22-24 at Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta Waterfront Park.

“It’s full force ahead,” said Steve Smith, Grand Knight for Plaquemine Knights of Columbus Council No. 970, which has staged the local festival since its inception.

The 2021 festival will feature its longtime traditions, including the carnival rides, live music, food, arts and crafts and other attractions.

The crowd seen here for the 2018 International Acadian Festival at Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta Waterfront Park could be larger this for this year’s event.

A parade highlighted by the 2021 Evangeline is set for Sunday morning throughout Plaquemine.

“We’re approaching this year’s festival to be as normal a festival as we can have,” Smith said. “We’ve got to move forward.”

While the coronavirus pandemic played a role in last year’s cancelation, it was not the main catalyst.

Earlier in 2020, the company that provided the festival’s carnival rides for 30 years went out of business, which left organizers without one of the event’s biggest attractions.

“We could not find a rides company, and there aren’t that many ride companies remaining … there’s only eight or so in the region,” Smith said. “We had a problem getting one for the third weekend in October for this year’s event, so we had to switch to the fourth weekend of the month, so we’d have a ride company.”

The Knights of Columbus signed a three-year contract with the ride company to ensure it does not face the same dilemma as last year, he said.

As for the COVID-19 issue, only an executive order from the state to cancel outdoor events would put the brakes on this year’s festival, he said.

Smith does not foresee a cancelation of this year’s event.

“We had a COVID issue when we were to do the Evangeline judging, so we had to push that back a couple of weeks,” he said. “But we’re full speed ahead and we’re looking forward to it … we think the community is ready for it.”

Masks will not be required at the event since festivities will be held outdoors.

Handwashing stations will be placed at the event.

“People can sanitize their hands at their convenience, and if they want to wear masks, they’re welcome to do so,” he said.

Several events have been canceled this year, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, French Quarter Fest, the Gonzales Jambalaya Festival and the taste fair at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Brusly.

Smith believes residents from Iberville and surrounding parishes need something to pull past the grim events they endured in the last year.

“People are ready for a sense of normalcy and to be able to go out and have a good time again,” he said. “With all the overhead we have for the festival, we don’t make a lot of money off of it, but we see it as a way to give back to the community.”

Originally known as “The Cajun Festival,” the festival was the brainchild of Post/South co-founder/publisher/editor Gary J. Hebert, who began the event in 1969. It became known as the International Acadian Festival one year later.