$1 night helps Andouille Fest’s success

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Rides, food and lots of festival fun were available to River Region residents last weekend as St. John the Baptist Parish hosted its 41st annual Andouille Festival.

“We had a really great time,” Garyville resident Marcie Millet, who attended the festival Saturday with her mom and 2-year-old daughter Kailynn, said. “My little girl loved seeing the parade with the Disney characters.”

Millet said she’s attended the festival in years past and definitely noticed the new features and felt as though this year’s festival was better organized.

“It was a lot nicer, in my opinion, than in previous years,” Millet said.

New to this year’s festivities was Friday’s $1 night, which granted patrons $1 entry, food and rides with the donation of a canned food item. St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom said the $1 offerings boosted attendance and brought in hundreds of canned goods for St. John Ministry of Care and the Second Harvest Food Bank.

“It was a great way to bring in festival goers, as well as give back to our community,” Robottom said. “We appreciate the vendors who participated in $1 night and hope they reaped additional benefits from the increased attendance.”

She said the parish will definitely bring the $1 night back next year.  

Robottom said the layout of the festival was also changed slightly this year to improve traffic flow, all “while keeping the focus on our food and craft booths and the two music stages.”

She said the addition of more picnic benches and a covered area seemed to encourage attendees to stay longer, which was the parish’s goal.

“This was also the first year the committee incorporated the second line parade around the festival grounds,” Robottom said of Saturday’s event featuring the New Birth Brass Band, local dance groups and Disney princess characters.

“The feedback on the changes was very positive, and we hope to make the festival bigger and better next year.”

Robottom said each year after the festival a meeting with all festival committee members is held to discuss what worked and what didn’t work, and she said the parish will use the discussion to plan for the following year. 

One contest held annually at the festival is the Gumbo Cookoff, and this year’s top prize of $300 went to the duo Myra Brown and Alice Duhe, who were sponsored by See’ Bon Restaurant in LaPlace.

“The festival was all that was advertised and more – it was truly a weekend of family fun for everyone,” Robottom said.

“The hard work put into planning, coordinating and implementing the event was evident and we are extremely pleased with the turnout for Andouille Festival 2014.”

St. John Parish Communications Director Paige Falgoust said attendance numbers were definitely higher than last year and will be released once finalized at the end of this week.