Festival of the Bonfires lights up area this weekend

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2014

By Monique Roth

LUTCHER — Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s festivities at Lutcher Recreational Park, located on Louisiana Highway 3193 in Lutcher, will mark the 25th year of the Festival of the Bonfires.

Rhonda Lee, president of Festival of the Bonfires Inc., said patrons will be treated to a Cajun-style Christmas on the river celebration, complete with delicious food, live entertainment, crafts, Santa’s Very Merry Forest and carnival rides available throughout the weekend.

With bonfire lightings planned for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, organizers invite residents of the River Region and beyond to come out and experience a prelude to the famous Christmas Eve bonfires.

Lee has been president of the festival committee for 12 years, and said “the best part of the festival is seeing people enjoying themselves and having a good time.”

The festival opens at 2 p.m. Friday, and the day’s activities include three bands, and a Gumbo Cook-off, Potato Salad Showdown and Bread Pudding Bake-off.

Lee said this year’s gumbo cook-off will be the largest one yet, with 70 applications received for the tasty contest.

She added a special feature this year will be a 6 p.m. Friday ceremony to honor the 25th anniversary of the festival and the nine charter members who still serve on the committee.

The festival’s first day will close at midnight Friday.

Saturday’s festival fun will last from 9 a.m. to midnight, and will include a Gingerbread House Contest, 4-H Cookie Contest, children’s pageant and pictures with Santa. Local dance teams and cheerleading performances will be sprinkled throughout the day, and several bands will grace the entertainment stage.

On Sunday, the festival will span from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include a half-mile kids run/walk, 5K run/walk, car show, car show parade and several school group and dance troupe performances. Mike Broussard & Friends, with a special appearance by Van Broussard, will take the stage from 3 to 6 p.m.

Free shuttles will be available to the levee 30 minutes prior to the bonfire lightings Friday and Saturday, and amusement rides will be available throughout the weekend.

Adult admission to the festival is $4, with children under 10 and adults 62 and older entering free of charge.

The Festival of the Bonfires Inc. is a volunteer, non-profit organization established in 1990 with the purpose of conducting the Festival of the Bonfires annually.

Organizers say the purpose of the festival is to encourage the preservation of the bonfires in the River Parishes, encourage tourism, encourage public awareness of the bonfire tradition, promote economic development of small businesses in St. James Parish, encourage cooperation with other organizations having similar purposes and interests, and to add beautification of the incorporated towns of Lutcher and Gramercy, in addition to the rest of St. James Parish.

For a schedule of activities and more information, visit festivalofthebonfires.org.