By: Lori Toups Benoit
The arrival of Spring also brings to mind that another season is here. It's officially "festival season" in South Louisiana! That is, until the dog days of summer swarm in. You could also say that the fall is festival season; however, festivals really "spring" into action this time of year. Nevertheless, it's the perfect time of year to further introduce our own festival, the Best of the Bayou.
In case you haven't heard, the annual Best of the Bayou Festival will take place in early fall on Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30. The setting is historic Downtown Houma. Downtown's Live After 5 will kick off the weekend of festivities on Friday, Sept. 28th in the Courthouse Square.
Many locals are already comparing or declaring this festival as a replacement to Downtown on the Bayou. The truth is that while the new festival is also calling downtown "home," and there are other slight similarities, it is just that – a NEW festival, with its own mission and unique identity.
The Best of the Bayou Festival is dedicated to showcasing Houma-Terrebonne as a premier tourist destination through a multi-day celebration of music, food, arts and our unique culture.
The free festival will blanket Main Street from Lafayette to Barrow Streets, as well as the Bayou Walk and adjacent streets. Two large music stages will book-end the festival near Lafayette and Barrow and face in opposing directions, meaning both stages will be turned toward the festival grounds. For two days, two music scenes will not only feature the "best of the bayou" in entertainment, but also musicians and bands with regional and national acclaim.
Music aside, what is a festival without food?! Best of the Bayou will showcase the best of bayou cuisine from Louisiana-based caterers and restaurants inside the food court, set to surround the Courthouse Square on Church and Goode Streets. The Square will remain "green" for seating. Participating vendors will be selected through a jury process, and there will be a limit on certain food items sold to avoid duplication of too many dishes. Non-profit organizations will also have the opportunity to apply for booth space.
Last, but certainly not least, another key component to BoB-Fest (as we're calling it for short) will be the exhibition of arts and crafts. The number of available booth spaces is undetermined at this time, but only original art and homemade crafts will be eligible and allowed for sale at the festival. The purpose of this is to promote the creativity, individuality and hard work of the bayou region's best artists and craftsmen. Best of the Bayou is proud to announce that we've partnered with Options for Independence and Gulf Coast Marketplace, who will be processing the applications and managing the art vendors for the festival.
Needless to say, it's been a busy couple of months since coming on board as festival manager for the Best of the Bayou Foundation, and the work has only just begun! As Drake touched on in the March FOCUS, we want and need Chamber member and community support in order to make Best of the Bayou a lasting success. The support not only comes from donations and sponsorships, but also through volunteering. We will need hundreds of helping hands! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering for a festival committee or working the festival itself. Please look for monthly updates from Best of the Bayou in the FOCUS and later on Facebook and our very own website, coming soon!