Belaire Cove’s Sacred Heart Chapel’s history plays important part in annual cookoff
In 1990, the Sacred Heart Chapel in Belaire Cove celebrated its 50th anniversary of existence with a special service conducted by Msgr. Irving A. DeBlanc, who served as assistant pastor under Msgr. J.M. Bourgeois when the chapel was opened in 1940. That same year, the chapel’s planning committee incorporated the First Annual Crawfish Etouffée Cookoff into the chapel’s annual bazaar. (Information taken from The Gazette - April 26, 1990.)
At the first cookoff, 16 teams participated. Walking away with top honors were G&S Implement and Eunice Implement. Second place went to the Red Rooster Team, and third place went to the Carpenter Cooks. Over 200 pounds of crawfish were cooked that year.
The second event occurred in April of 1991. Hollier Implement of Eunice was successful with a first-place win in that particular cookoff event. Cajun Ladies were second, and B&S Grocery and Meat Market won third place.
In 2005, after paying $1,400 to rent a tent for the annual cookoff, organizers decided to put some money aside to build a pavilion, which could be utilized for the cookoff and by the parishioners during the rest of the year.
Members of the Belaire Cove Church Council approached Father Gene Tremie and asked if they could build a pavilion, according to Robert Perron. After receiving permission from Father Tremie, the council asked the Diocese for permission, and it was granted.
A 40x70 structure was erected and completed in January of 2006. Gutters were put on the pavilion to help prevent waterfalls during rain.
The first major event under the pavilion was the 17th Annual Crawfish Etouffée Cookoff. The covered area is now used by the cooks and musicians. There is a place for face painting, balloon games and the booths where barbecue hamburgers are sold.
Belaire Cove can trace its name back to Joseph dit Belair, son of Jan Louis Fontenot and Colin and Louise Angelique Henry.
The chapel was dedicated March 3, 1940, by Bishop B. Jeanmard. It had been built for $3,000. The 300-seat church was built by popular subscription and a $2,000 gift from the Catholic Extension Society of Chicago presented in memory of Daniel and Elizabeth Sharkey.
According to The Gazette’s archives, before the church was completed, area families attended church services in the neighboring seventh grade public school building, according to Cammie Lafleur, whose father, Horace Fontenot, served on the original church committee. Mass was offered once a month before that.
Records in the Evangeline Parish Clerk of Court’s Office indicate the land for the chapel was purchased from Mrs. Marie B. Fontenot, widow of Octave P. Vidrine Sr., May 30, 1938. The price of the two acres was $150, and later, on April 2, 1941, another acre of land was purchased from Mrs. Vidrine for $75.
Those persons serving on the committee, who were elected by the people of Belaire Cove to direct the construction of the church, were Aldes Soileau, chairman; Atale Fontenot, Onile Lafleur, Horace B. Fontenot, Joseph P. Vidrine, Angelas Deville, Albert Soileau, Olin Fontenot, Dallas Fontenot, and Tanzy G. Fontenot.
Today, that tradition continues with the annual Crawfish Etouffée Cookoff.