Remember the Sauce Piquante Fest? It ain’t around no more. La Vie Lafourchaise? Nope. It doesn’t exist anymore either. Raceland Fireman’s Fair? That one’s gone, too. The Oyster Festival? The Cajun Festival? Don’t look for those either. They’re all gone!
Many of our beloved fairs and festivals have gone the way of typewriters, corded phones and ditto machines.
One man has a vision to bring the excitement, flavor and grandeur of these now defunct festivals of days past to the present! And, he’s well on his way!
Terry Arabie is the first Chairman of the first annual La Fetes Des Vieux Temp Festival – a Festival of Old Times – beginning Friday, October 3rd and running through Sunday, October 5th.
“Over the years, all the festivals just seemed to keep disappearing and here we are today without any festivals in the central part of the parish,” says Arabie. “I have been thinking about this idea for years,” he added. “Finally! It’s coming to fruition”, he states excitedly…and with good reason!
Arabie fears that if the festivals can so easily go to the wayside, what about our identity? Culture? Language? Is it a matter of time before we lose everything that identifies us as…well, us?
“This festival is all about preserving our community,” he says. “We wanted to preserve our culture while having our own festival in the central part of the parish that incorporates the best elements of the older festivals,” he added.
This isn’t a solo-man’s festival. Arabie had some help in organizing and planning the weekend fest. Arabie is president of the Raceland Lion’s Club, but that’s just one group working on the festival. The Lockport Volunteer Fire Department and Lafourche Fire District #1 make up the other two groups working towards bringing the joy of the older festivals back to the Raceland area.
The three groups banded together and formed an organization and a board to manage the monumental task.
“We all decide together,” says Arabie. “We really are a very cooperative group,” he adds. Every vote that has come before them…”they have all been unanimous across the board, no matter what we we’re voting on,” he said with a keen sense of pride.
Danny Mayet is a member of the board and agrees with Arabie.
“Yup. All the votes have been unanimous…all of them,” Mayet states emphatically. “This is our premier fest and so far, things have gone smoothly as far as planning, decisions and cooperation amongst the board,” he added.
La Fetes Des Vieux Temps will be held at the Tourist Center in Raceland at the junction of LA 1 and Highway 90. More than 25 craft booths will line the entrance to the existing pavilion already on the site, housing both bands and food booths. Arabie and his team secured a 100 x 60 foot tent to be erected parallel to the pavilion to hold additional food booths and tables for seating and eating. And boy, will there be plenty to eat!
“We wanted to bring back all the great foods from our area’s festivals…the ones we all remembered and love,” Arabie says. “Fresh, made-at-the-fest cracklings, white beans and alligator sauce piquant,” he adds as he gazes upwards going over the list in his head before continuing, “shrimp, seafood of all kinds really…”
Beverages will be plenty with beer and soft drinks surely on the list. One thing people from the Raceland area may be wondering about is the Fireman’s Punch Daiquiri served years ago at the Fireman’s Festival.
“We got the recipe and we tried it out with a two-gallon batch,” Arabie states. “After we all had a glass of the daiquiri, we knew we had to add it to the festival’s offerings…that was another unanimous board decision,” he added with a chuckle. “We are going to call it ‘Bayou Water’ after we make it a little brown in color,” he says.
The culture component isn’t lost amongst the multitudes of food and beverage offerings.
“We will have a cane syrup machine, powered by a mule, and actually be making cane syrup over the 3-day festival,” says Arabie. “We will be milling and actually boiling the can juice right there next to the pavilion,” says
Arabie as he points to the spot imagining the donkey-driven machine spinning and spinning.
“We have nearly 800 jars ready to be filled and sold right here with fresh cane syrup that you can watch being made,” adds Mayet.
Wooden boat building is a huge part of our community, culture and history. The Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building will be at the festival with various wooden boats, presentations and demonstrations.
Members with the Bayou Lafourche Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau will also be on hand to educate and assist with the culture component. The festival is literally being held in their backyard – you know all things Lafourche will be well represented!
One thing the organizers are extremely proud of is the mass that will be held on Sunday, October 5th under the pavilion at 9 a.m.
“We are thrilled about mass Sunday morning,” says Mayet. “We have a letter from the Bishop approving it,” adds Arabie. “Rain or shine, we are planning on having a great festival and a beautiful mass.”
Planning and organizing a festival is a momentous task to say the least. Setting up the week prior, manning the booths and volunteering to tear down the week after is a whole other challenge.
“Volunteers, auction items, setting up the booths, tearing down...we can always use more help,” says Arabie.
“We are not doing this for monetary gain or to get rich by any means,” he says. “So any help is greatly appreciated.”
“We want people to come out and enjoy all that we have here as we remember our past festivals and traditions and create some new ones,” he added. “We want everyone to come out and have a great time, from around here as well as from everywhere.”
To get involved, volunteer, donate auction items or support the festival with a monetary donation, please call Terry Arabie at 985-665-5005.
Marc Kimball is a contributing writer for The Lafourche Gazette. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Fri, August 15, 2014
by Marc Kimball, Contributing Writer