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Wright: Andouille Festival belongs to the people of St. John Parish

The Andouille Festival belongs to the people of St. John Parish — not the St. John the Baptist Parish Government.

Recent suggestions by a small few to cancel the Andouille Festival is an absurd notion that will not hurt the parish budget as much as it will hurt the community of St. John.

Let’s have these discussions every year — not just election year.

No community event under St. John Parish Government turns a profit. It’s also important to realize that we must always continue to be fiscally conservative without cutting the quality of any event.

The Andouille Festival expenditures come out of the Economic Development Department, which is supported by an Economic Development tax.

Why is this important?

The purpose of the tax was for the purpose of Economic Development.

What is Economic Development?

According to an online search – Economic Development is the process by which a nation improves the economic, political and social well-being of its people.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the main revenue streams of the festival: gate entry tickets, food & craft booth rental, grants, sponsorships, drink revenue, ride revenue and other miscellaneous revenue sources.

A brief glance would suggest that the festival revenue relies heavily on participants attending the festival, and more importantly staying at the festival.

How do we attract individuals to the festival and how do we keep them there?

Adequate food & craft booths, entertainment and continuous activities – spend your money where it matters. All of which have incorporated locals from the community in some form (Economic Development).

Did you know that the Second Harvest Food Bank receives many canned goods and non-perishable food donations from the parish on behalf of attendees?

Did you know that individuals come from out of town to attend our festival?

They also stay in our hotels and eat at our restaurants (Economic Development).

This would be the indirect financial impact the parish receives – stimulating our local economy through tax dollars (Economic Development).

Additionally, we are providing the local community a quality of life event where families and friends will often gather for a great time.

Please keep in mind, fiscal responsibility must continue to be a priority.

Cost cutting measures should be put in place to ensure we are spending conservatively without cutting quality.

The 4th of July Firework Show, Veteran’s Luncheon, Fall & Spring Clean Sweeps, Easter in the Parks, Andouille Pageant and the Parish President’s academic lunch are all examples of other community events for the residents that don’t necessarily bring in enough revenue (if any) to offset expenses.

The Andouille Festival is a community event for the residents & paid for by the residents.

Perhaps we should explore having another entity or non-profit groups take over the festival production with St. John retaining naming rights.

Perhaps we should look at other cost cutting measures that do not cut quality.

The bottom line is that this festival is an Economic Development event – use it for economic gain.

We are the “Andouille Capital of the World!”

Michael P. Wright is St. John the Baptist Parish Council District 5 representative. Contact him at District5@sjbparish.com or m.wright@sjbparish.com.