Great music, food & fun: Garyville opens for all with Sings and Strings Jam Fest April 8

Published 12:10 am Saturday, March 31, 2018

GARYVILLE — A musician of any age from any walk of life can step through the gates of Sings and Strings Jam Fest and strike up a conversation with the opening chords of a song.

Organizer Peyton Falgoust has watched strangers come together through music one year and perform together the next. A guitarist and singer since the age of 3, Falgoust had a vision to unite musicians from near and far in the town he cherishes most.

With a focus on creative energy and the arts, Sings and Strings has brightened the streets of Garyville since 2014 and has raised approximately $64,000 for the restoration of the historic Garyville Timbermill Museum.

Carye McGarity of Hondo, Texas and Chris Workmon from Colorado are all smiles during a recent Sings and Strings Jam Fest.

The fifth annual Sings and Strings Jam Fest will be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 8 on the grounds of the Timbermill Museum and surrounding historic structures, and musicians who come to perform enter for free.

Pre-registration is not required, Falgoust said. While there will be a lineup announced on the Facebook page prior to the Festival, he said anyone is welcome to play at any time with any instrument imaginable.

General admission is $5 per person, and children under 12 enter for free when accompanied by an adult.

Music of all genres, vintage landmarks, a chef’s cook-off, food, craft vendors and a 5K run highlight this year’s event.

Registration is $25 for the 5K, which kicks off at 8 a.m. Call Candace McGaff Falgoust at 504-782-5385 for an entry form.

Upgrades to the Garyville Timbermill Museum include a new roof, revamped annex and new paint job.

Contact Donna Chauvin Falgoust on Facebook to enter the cook-off, which runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features a variety of dishes.

Handmade craft vendors can contact Tina Guidry at 985-703-1531, and musicians interested in performing may call Falgoust at 985-233-0168 for scheduling and publicity on the Sings and Strings Facebook page.

“We wanted to keep it focused on music, arts, culture, history and food,” Falgoust said. “That simplicity is what helps the festival grow.”

The Festival typically averages around 150 musicians.

Robert “Rex” Henderson of Ponchatoula has jammed at Sings and Strings for the past four years, and he plans on attending April 8.

“It’s great people, great food and great fun,” Henderson said. “All of the people associated with it are wonderful.”

Kyle Labat of Prairieville, right, strums his guitar during last year’s event. Attending musicians are treated to free refreshments and other perks in hospitality rooms.

Henderson has made new friends each year by performing in open jam areas, and his favorite part of the event is how accessible it is.

“You can sit with one group and play some bluegrass, walk over the tracks and hear Cajun, then walk down the street for some rock,” Henderson said. “Whether you’re a beginner guitar strummer or advanced, you’re going to have a great time.”

Falgoust said he has family all over the state because of music.

“Music has opened up so many doors for me,” Falgoust said. “Wherever I go, I know I have people who will be there for me.”

An added incentive of the Festival is benefitting the Garyville Timbermill Museum Association, a 501c3 nonprofit group.

Falgoust is seen strumming his guitar outside the historic Gary State Bank.

Falgoust’s family has lived in the town for generations, and his uncle, Carl Monica, has long championed historic preservation, standing by the Timbermill Museum at its best and worst.

Monica said the Garyville Timbermill Museum is the foundation of the town.

“It’s the building in town responsible for building the old community,” Monica said. “The whole town expanded from that point. It’s very important that we save it because it is our heritage.”

In 2008, Monica sat down with Falgoust, 12, at the time and inspired by a jam fest he’d attended in Madisonville, to discuss using a local festival to preserve Garyville’s history.

The two drafted ideas on a guest check at Fatty’s Bar and Grill and brought their vision to life in 2014. Driven by proceeds and donations, renovations to the Garyville Museum have totaled $54,000 thus far and include a new roof, insurance, a revamped annex, a new paint job and more.

This year, the Timbermill Museum will be open to the public and feature exhibits detailing Garyville’s history.

“Downtown Garyville is often overlooked, and you never notice how great it is until you walk inside these old buildings,” Falgoust said. “Even if it’s just for one day out of the year, seeing everyone come out to bring the town to life is really special.”