Independence Sicilian Heritage Festival Board meets royalty, prepares for upcoming festival

Special guests attending the Independence Sicilian Heritage Festival meeting held February 16 were Festival Queen Lindsey Prima and Festival King John Catalano. Festival Board members were given the opportunity to meet the Festival Royalty.

Michael Muscarello was introduced as a new Festival Board member. Frances Costa was introduced as a guest, and Alderman Parnell Butch Baham was in attendance at the meeting. Then, Board President Reggie Martin called the meeting to order and asked for the various committee reports.

"The Festival Pageant was a success especially being our first year, and it’s only going to get bigger and better each year," said Kim Ragusa, Festival Pageant Director. "Our Queen Lindsey Prima will be on the radio tomorrow to promote our festival."

Food Booth Chairman Tony Anzalone announced that the festival has 20 food booths.

The Independence Sicilian Heritage Festival Board voted to approve the following new food booths : Independence Knights of Columbus Council #5627 Fried Turkey Legs and Chili Dog Booth, Amite High School Girls Basketball and Track Teams BBQ Ribs and BBQ Hamburger Booth, and Louisiana Tech Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Broiled Crawfish and Fried Fish Booth.

Festival Board Executive Secretary Cindy Martin made a motion to require that everyone wanting a booth at the upcoming festival be required to fill out an application and pay for that booth space before March 1st with the Board voting to approve this measure.

Anyone wanting a booth at the festival visit The deadline for Festival booth applications and payment is March 1st.

The Christian Motorcycle Association and Motorcycle Awareness requested information booths at the festival which the Board voted to approve.

Jimmy Gregory said that the Motorcycle Poker Run group has been having their meetings every Wednesday at City Hall. They have been collecting door prizes and donations, and they have been trying to get more vendors to participate. Motorcycle Poker Run shirts are available for sale at city Hall and at Brunt Construction. The shirts are on display at Angie's Bar and other businesses in town and are $ 25 each.   

Board members voted on the 41 Festival Poster Contest entries most of which came from Independence High School and the surrounding area.  

Lane Grigas received 2nd Place, and Harold Rogers a 10th grade student at IHS received 3rd Place.

The Independence Sicilian Heritage Festival Poster winning artists is Jeanne Koss, an adult artist from Loranger. Her winning poster is now the official 2009 Festival Poster which depicts the various familiar visual symbols of what comes to mind when one thinks about the town of Independence; depicted are the Old Mater Dolorosa Church which is the Cultural Museum, and the various Italian foods among many other items.

Chamber President Rhonda Crocker gave her report on the status of the Indy Idol Contest which will be held Saturday, February 28, with registration beginning at 8 am at the Independence Elementary School Lunchroom. Preliminary Open Elimination begins at 9 am with auditions beginning at 11:30 am.  

When the Chamber President Rhonda asked for anyone to volunteer as the auctioneer, Mike Correnti and his father Andrew, both with professional experience in this field, answered the call and will serve as auctioneers for Kidzart.

"We have a master of ceremonies now, and her name is Terri Basso," said Crocker. "We are asking for manpower to post flyers to let people know about our Indy Idol Contest and about our festival."

"I want to introduce Janet Kyzar who is a new Chamber member and my new volunteer helper, and she is wonderful. We have been very busy," said Crocker. "She has gone way beyond help helping me post our Festival flyers and Indy Idol flyers in Covington, New Orleans, Hammond, Albany, Ponchatoula, and Amite."

Contact the Independence Chamber of Commerce for contest application and rules at of call 878-2050 or drop by at 583 W. Railroad Ave( adjacent to Hancock Bank.)

I invite anyone interested who would like to attend our next Chamber meeting on Feb. 24, at 11:00 am. We will have Sheriff Daniel Edwards and our Festival President Reggie Martin as our guest speakers for our next meeting."

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