New festival grounds get a big ‘thumbs up’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Did you make it out to the Andouille Festival this past weekend?

If not—and I’m sure you might have heard this by now—you sure missed it.

Over and over throughout the weekend I kept hearing the same thing. “This is a great setup.” “This place is just perfect.” And on and on.

Yup, the new parish administration hit a home run with the idea to move the Andouille Festival to the much larger grounds around the St. John Community Center, where there was a huge area to really spread out on.

The fest had been held in the very-tight confines in front of the parish administration building on Airline Highway in recent years, but the growing crowds had parish leaders talking about a move for a while.

When Bill Hubbard took over as parish president at the beginning of 2008, one of the first things he did was inform the Andouille Fest leaders in his administration that the fest was going to be moved, and that was the beginning of a great decision.

As I said, I kept hearing the same thing all weekend, about how great the festival was on the new location. It allowed for two music stages, a bigger setup by the carnival ride folks, and plenty of space for everything else that makes the fair famous. In a nutshell, the fest was fantastic and I will be anxious to see what changes and additions go into the ’09 version.

Whups, I think I heard a groan from some of those parish leaders who have been working lots of extra hours to get this one finished. OK, we’ll leave that talk alone for a while until you catch your breath.

But overall, big props to the many, many people who chipped in to make this fair a success. It couldn’t have been better.

We had our own L’Observateur tent set up to meet-and-greet our friends at the fair, and hand out lots of freebies. It’s always fun for me to do that, and talk to a lot of our faithful readers.

One of the giveaways was a one-month free subscription, trying to get some newcomers to try the Lobster for a while and hopefully want to continue it.

So for myself and my fellow employees who came out to work the fair, we were asking everyone if they got the paper, since we were giving it away if they didn’t.

Right next to me was a parish booth that was selling T-shirts, aprons and items with the fair logo on it, so I went over to ask the four ladies there, on the first night, if they wanted to get a free subscription.

And get this, out of Donna Vicknair, Leslie Foret, Monica Nicholas and Bobbie Butler, every one of them had a subscription already. Now that’s what I call pretty great!

Thanks ladies!

Got to hear lots of good music with the two stages going on, but I have to make an extra mention about one group I heard Saturday morning called “Two If By Land.”

They quickly got my attention as the first band of the day when I heard them start doing Beatles songs. I mean come on, who doesn’t love the Beatles?

I later found out that the group, made up of Shane Madere and Mike Varnado, does a variety of what they call “soft rock or classic rock,” and they play every Thursday at La Carreta’s, here in LaPlace.

Trust me, you have to check these guys out. They are really talented, just with the two of them alternating on different instruments. They are out of Baton Rouge and play lots of places. You can call them at 225-572-5430 if you are interested in a booking.

And believe me, the Beatles stuff is really, really well done.

I got a few laughs from some folks last week when I tried to make a big joke out of the fact that I was going to be at the festival this weekend. I certainly hope everyone knows it was a joke that I kept calling myself a celebrity.

But I tried to encourage some traffic at the L’Observateur tent by talking about “your great opportunity to meet ME!”

Well, Fran and Terry Toland of LaPlace showed up Saturday, with Fran letting me know that she was a longtime subscriber, and really did want to meet me.

How nice was that?

Thanks Fran!

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at