LOCAL

Additional attractions set for 2022 Acadian Festival

Staff Report

Event organizers hope to keep the momentum going strong for the International Acadian Festival a year after one of the biggest turnouts in its 53-year history.

Festivities kick off Friday evening at the Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta Community Center overlooking the Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park. The event is sponsored and organized each by Plaquemine Knights of Columbus Council 970.

A dazzling midway of carnival rides will illuminate the night sky during the International Acadian Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday on the grounds of the Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta Community Center in downtown Plaquemine.

The 2022 event will feature more food vendors, more crafts booths and even an extra ride or two on the midway on the heels of a wildly  successful 2021 festival.

The 54th annual event rolls into gear a year after the festival made a comeback after the COVID-19 pandemic – and the lack of an available group for carnival rides – forced cancellation of the 2020 event.

Last year’s return engagement drew more than 8,000 to the grounds, even with rain on the final day of the event.

It also brought a new amusement ride circuit for the event, which drew very enthusiastic responses from the eventgoers.

“Our goal every year is to make sure people have a good time and for us to put on a good festival with good weather… that’s how we gauge our success,” said K.C. member and Iberville Parish Councilman Steve Smith, who has worked with the festival for decades. “Naturally, we had a very big turnout last year because it was one of the first outings after the end of COVID-19, so everyone was engaged.

“This year, we hope they stay engaged because we have a nice festival planned, with more food vendors, great entertainment and the same rides company which was such a great success – and they’re even bringing an extra ride this year.”

Smith spoke with POST/SOUTH as he and other event organizers worked on the final touches for setup for Friday when the crowd arrives.

The process of assembling the event has come down to a “fine science,” knowing what works and how to tweak things to ensure it continues to run like a well-oiled machine, he said.

“We’re having the normal events, such as the cooking contest Saturday, and we will have a few extra bands,” Smith said.

Aside from the advertised lineup, festival organizers have invited up-and-coming local bands to perform as a way for the festival to showcase more local talent.

“We’ve told them they’re more than welcome to come play, and we’ve gotten a great reaction from them,” Smith said. “We look forward to that, along with all of the crafts and everything else.

“Last year, craft vendors said it was the best year they ever had, and one of the local vendors said they had never done so well at any event like they did with last year’s festival,” he said. “We have more people wanting to get space at the festival, and we’re actually starting to run out of space – and that’s not a bad problem to have.”

The move to Bayou Plaquemine several years ago brought the event to an area that makes it weatherproof in the event of rain.

“The old fairground had a certain charm and a certain quaintness, but we lost of that at the multipurpose center,” Smith said. “Over here, we’ve regained that certain quaintness and we’re even weatherproof to a certain degree because everything is set up on cement, so we’re weatherproof to a certain degree.”

K.C. Council No. 970 started the event in 1969 as “The Cajun Festival” on the St John schoolground. It was the brainchild of the late Gary J. Hebert, co-founder of the Plaquemine Post/South and prominent K.C. member. It was renamed “The International Acadian Festival” one year later.

Here's a rundown of this year’s festivities:

“All You Can Ride” bracelets will enable festivalgoers to enjoy the midway without tickets for $25 a person at junctures throughout the weekend.

Festivities on Friday will include a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament at 6 p.m.

SATURDAY, OCT. 29

Events on Saturday will include an ACL-sanctioned cornhole tournament, along with a cookoff (with prizes going to the winners), a water ceremony to welcome 2022 Evangeline Anna Catherine Bradford and the Indian princesses.

The Saturday music lineup includes Justin McCoy, followed by the Justin Cornett Band.

SUNDAY, OCT. 30

Festivities on Sunday will include the annual parade at 10:30 a.m. The procession begins at the Carl F. Grant Civic Center, down La. 75 to Eden Street/La. 1, and ending at Main Street.

Parade participation is open to marching groups, dance groups, bands, Boy Scouts/Girls Scouts, businesses and political candidates.

A cookoff for kids begin the Sunday festivities on the festival grounds. Dropoff of items will be open from 8 until 9 a.m., and awards will be presented at 1 p.m.

Carnival rides begin at 1 p.m. Music on Sunday will include the Rockin’ Mozart Band from 2 until 6 p.m., and Travis Thibodeaux from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.