Returning after 2 years, St. Joan of Arc Fair raises funds for Ida repairs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2022

LAPLACE — Ready to roll April 1-3 at 529 W. Fifth Street in LaPlace, this year’s St. Joan of Arc Parish Fair will be significant for two reasons.

Fr. David Ducote described the fair as a return to normalcy for both the church parish and the wider St. John Parish community. The much-anticipated event was cancelled the past two years for COVID-19 concerns, along with other fairs and festivals across the region.

Plans had just begun for the fair to make a grand return when Hurricane Ida slammed into the River Parishes, leaving widespread damage in its wake.

The St. Joan of Arc Parish Fair has been a major fundraiser for both the church and the school for many years. This year, proceeds from the fair will go toward hurricane repairs. Organizers said some of the work has been recently completed, including installing a new roof on the church and renovating one of the school buildings, but there is still much work to be done.

“The school got water in every building from rainfall and flooding. We lost our breezeway from the winds. We have roof damage on four buildings. The inside of the church was damaged, and some sheetrock and flooring have to be changed. We’re going to get insurance money, but it’s not going to cover everything, so the fair will be a big help with our recovery efforts,” Ducote said.

He said the St. Joan of Arc Parish Fair now has a double meaning.

“We knew we wanted to have a fair again after COVID. People have been looking for things to do. This is a rebuilding event for the community being that we haven’t had a fair in two years and it’s a very big, popular St. John Parish event,” Ducote said. “It’s also going to be necessary for our school and parish community because of Hurricane Ida renovations and reconstruction. We need something to take our minds off of rebuilding, destruction and disease. It’s something to lift our spirits.”

This year’s St. Joan of Arc Fair hours are from 6 to 10 p.m. April 1, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. April 2, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 3. The “Game Night” theme was created during the 2019-2020 school year by a then-seventh grader who is now a freshman at St. Charles Catholic.

Live music will be provided by Foret Tradition, Faith Becnel, Justin Molaison, Cat 6, Nashville South and Peyton Falgoust. There will be a large selection of rides and carnival games for the entire family.

On Saturday, the St. Joan of Arc Fair will host its first Corn Hole tournament, and children of all ages will love taking photos with all the animals presented by the Reptile Krewe. The fair will also feature face painting and balloon animals for the kids on Saturday and Sunday.

Traditional fair foods including fried fish and shrimp, hamburgers and funnel cakes are on the menu, in addition to a food truck offering daily specials. Parish President Jaclyn Hotard, Attorney Henri Dufresne and Petra Restaurant owner T.J. Qutob will be the featured celebrity chefs on Saturday, leading up to a cook-off lunch on Sunday.

This year’s cook-off will be named in memory of Paul Boeckl, a gentleman who won the cooking contest for the last three years the fair was held. Boeckl passed away in August 2021, and his wife and daughter will serve as judges for this year’s cook-off.

A silent auction will start the Monday before the fair and continue through the weekend. Up for grabs are vacation rentals, sports memorabilia and baskets from various high schools in the region.

SJA Academic Assistant Emma Vicknair said the St. Joan of Arc Fair dates back to the 1970s. Those who attended the fair in its earliest days recall vegetable sales, softball games in the field and pony rides where the rectory now stands. The fair has grown into a larger community event over the past 50 years with expanded carnival games and rides.

This year’s fair will be the first Jenny Poulos will experience as principal of St. Joan of Arc.

“I think it brings the community together. They want this,” Poulos said.

After three months of sharing classrooms, students were happy to spread out and regain a sense of normalcy in January 2022. While there are still repairs to be done, Poulos said the children have remained resilient throughout the transition.