Andouille Fest matches last year’s attendance

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2009



LAPLACE — Early attendance figures showed last weekend’s Andouille Festival attracted about as many patrons as last year’s event, St. John Parish officials said Monday afternoon.

Estimated numbers from the Office of Economic Development showed attendance reached about 26,000 for the three-day event, which is identical to figures from last year’s festival. St. John Acting Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe said the number would have been higher if evening temperatures for Friday and Saturday had cooperated.

“Once the sun went down on Friday and Saturday, crowds really thinned out considerably,” Boe said. “The strong winds and cooler temperatures kept the evening crowds from coming out on both days.”

The National Weather Service reported evening temperatures in LaPlace dipped down into the lower 50s, which was made even cooler by a strong northerly wind that gusted as high as 20 mph.

“After sundown, you couldn’t find any kids anywhere,” Boe said. “Our food vendors were cold, the craft vendors were cold — it wasn’t what we expected.”

Boe said the parish figured the festival lost about four hours of heavy attendance on Friday and Saturday nights, but he said the afternoon hours, which were much more pleasant, more than made up for any loss.

“Sunday, after the Saints game was over, the grounds were packed with people,” Boe said. “There were lines of cars that stretched 20 deep waiting to get inside the grounds. It was much more comfortable to be outside.”

Boe said heavy rains in the days leading up to the festival produced a few logistical problems for parking around the festival grounds.

The grassy fields near the St. John Community Center were saturated with water and rendered unsuitable for parking.

“Unfortunately we had to turn people away Friday because we ran out of parking,” Boe said. “We were cramming cars everywhere we could.”

The soggy fields also forced organizers to move the kids’ area to the main floor inside the community center. Boe said the area, which included face painting, pony rides and a petting zoo, stayed active all weekend.

The festival is enjoying its second year at its new community center location. Boe said there are still some things that need to be adjusted, but the parish is pleased with the expanded space that the community center offers.

“There is always room for change, but we have enjoyed a new level of success at this location,” Boe said.