Rice Festival elects officers

Gold Star awarded carnival contract

Tuesday evening’s International Rice Festival board meeting drew a large turnout that had members buzzing. 

“It’s definitely one of the largest meetings I can remember,” said longtime Rice Festival associate Gene Williams. 

Williams was among those re-elected to their posts with the Rice Festival. He and Jay Suire will return as co-chairpersons of the festival. Blane Faulk was selected as the group’s secretary/treasurer. Roxie Viator will return as festival coordinator. 

Also discussed during the meeting was the company Gold Star, who was awarded the new carnival contract for this year’s festival. Gold Star will have 35 rides in 2014. That is an increase of 10 from last year’s number of rides which were brought by the prior company, Reed Exposition.

There were several complaints voiced during Tuesday’s meeting regarding Reed Exposition, who had run the carnival for the past few years. 

“They would have some rides that never worked during the entire weekend that they had placed  in the carnival area just to fill up their allotted spaces,” said Williams. “This new group is a first-class, clean operation.” 

Other items touched on during the meeting included the Rice Festival being in the final stages of getting approved for 501(c)(3) status. 

“This will make us a non-profit organization,” said Williams. “It will enable us to donate to charities, which will hopefully bring in larger sponsors.” 

The group also touched on the beer sales during last year’s festival which were lower than usual. Forecasters had been predicting rain in the week leading to the 2013 International Rice Festival which led to many people changing their plans for the weekend. There wasn’t much rain during the festival hours and the front that had people worried mostly passed through late Friday night after the festival had shut down for the evening.

“I don’t know if we were a victim of the weather as much as we were the forecasts,” said Suire.

Last year’s Rice Festival President Romona Credeur addressed the group at the outset of the meeting, thanking them for all the help they provided in the weeks leading up to and during the festival. 

The 2014 president, Connie Nutt, also addressed the group and said she was looking forward to working with them to make this year’s event a success.   

The International Rice Festival is up for a number of honors at the upcoming Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals Awards. Among them is the Best Overall Festival Award, which they won last year. 

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