Now in 39th year, Andouille Fest started as vision of one man

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 15, 2011


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A humble fundraiser that began 39 years ago to generate money for LaPlace’s volunteer fire department would eventually grow into the festival St. John the Baptist Parish is famous for.

The Andouille Festival, LaPlace’s annual celebration in honor of the spicy smoked sausage, started rather inauspiciously in 1970 as a newspaper editorial from a local carpenter.

Frank Fagot, former fire chief for the LaPlace Fire department, said he got the inspiration for the festival from local contractor Mentor “Sleepy” Landry, who pitched the idea as an editorial for L’Observateur.

“At the time, I was writing a weekly article for L’Observateur,” said Fagot. “Sleepy proposed the idea because there was no festival in honor of andouille, and LaPlace is really the only place it is produced.”

Fagot said he ran the idea by then-Publisher Joseph Lucia, who encouraged him to get the volunteer fire department involved in putting the festival together, but because of a long list of other responsibilities, they were forced to decline his request.

Fagot said the newspaper was so devoted to the cause, they ran a second editorial trying to stir up civic support for the festival.

“It ran a week after the first opinion piece,” said Fagot. “Once again nobody bit on it.”

Not getting discouraged, Fagot again proposed the idea to the fire department, but at a different angle.

“I went back and spoke to individual firemen,” said Fagot. “I pitched it as a fundraiser to benefit the department. We eventually came to a consensus that we could handle the production, and the festival was born.”

Fagot said the fire department spent the next year and a half developing the Andouille Festival Association, the organization that would initially run the festival. The association created a schedule, acquired a logo design from Sen. Ron Landry and decided on an adequate date.

“Weather was a big concern for us, and we put a lot of thought into it,” said Fagot. “My mother actually kept accurate records of weather patterns in the area. We also got opinions from local television weathermen on when the best weekend would be.”

After much deliberation, Fagot said the Association decided on the last weekend of October since “it is traditionally the driest weekend out of the year in the area.”

After almost two years of preparations, Fagot said the first festival took place in 1972, the same year former Gov. Edwin Edwards named LaPlace “Andouille Capital of the World.” It was held Oct. 28-29 at the old LaPlace drag strip. Although he did not have exact numbers, Fagot said the festival was a big success, and it raised quite a bit of money for the fire department.

When the festival expanded to three days in 1974, Fagot said it paid for all the expenses involved and helped keep the fire department going. Fagot said that was also the year the various pageants began.

Fagot said the fire department held on to the festival for several years until voters in St. John Parish approved a tax to generate funding for them. The festival was then sold to private organizations that took turns running it with minimal successes. The festival would eventually be sold back to the Parish, which reorganized it and returned it to the flourishing fair it is today, annually attracting more than 20,000 people from across the region.

Entertainment schedule for

this weekend:


Animosity – 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Dents Band – 1-4 p.m.

Typikal Reasons – 4:30-7 p.m.

Off The Hook – 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Vince Vance & The Valiants – 10 p.m.-midnight


Main Stage:

Chee Weez – noon-2 p.m.

LA Spice – 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Mojeaux – 6-10 p.m.

Gospel Tent:

Peggy Joseph & Fresh Faith Worship Center – 2:30-2:50 p.m.

Our Lady of Grace Choir – 3-3:20 p.m.

8-Year-old Lil Rance Scott – 3:30-3:50 p.m.

Spirit of Liberty/ Poetic Princess – 4-4:20 p.m.

From My Heart to Yours Praise Team – 4:30-4:50 p.m.

Renita Graber & Audience of One Worshippers – 5-5:20 p.m.

Beech Grove B.C. Choir – 5:30-5:50 p.m.

One Accord – 6-6:20 p.m.