Rotarians get inside look at Rice Festival

CROWLEY – It is almost time.

As the 76th International Rice Festival is only days away, President Brady Williams and the two parade marshals–Gene Williams and Ann Mire–discussed the festival with Rotarians Tuesday during the Rotary Club of Crowley’s program.

“I’m always happy to have the chance to educate others about the Rice Festival,” said Brady Williams.

He began by promoting not only the festival but a special project the festival has taken on this year.

In honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Interntaional Rice Festival will be selling special pink merchandise with part of the merchandise’s proceeds going to the Miles Perret Center, something the festival is very proud to be doing.

“I’m looking forward to making that donation in the end,” said Brady Williams.

He also recognized the honorees for this year, as several were in the audience.

Also of note for this festival is the official grand opening and dedication of the Glady Trahan Tennis Centre, which will occur Saturday morning, marking a big day for Crowley in and around the Rice Festival.

Looking toward entertainment, Brady Williams pointed to how there will once again be a little something for everyone and that the festival once again has a big draw. This year’s headliner is Sammy Kershaw who will be playing Saturday night. He is joined by a slew of other performers.

He then turned the program over to Mire, who also released a book about the festival’s history last year. She focused her part of the program on the festival’s roots–the Rice Carnivals of 1927 and 1928 and the Rice Festival of 1937.

Mire explained that while she has done more research on the history of the festival, she does still see the festival’s core mission of promoting the rice industry today, even among all the entertainment and fun now associated with the International Rice Festival.

“I think the same mission of appreciating the rice industry is there with the Farmer’s Appreciation Dinner and other such events,” she said.

This led Rotarians to point out how important agriculture, and in particular rice, has been and continues to be to the Acadiana area and to Louisiana.

The festival and its history also show off Crowley’s bond with rice that can really be seen daily around Crowley, whether its driving by the Historic Rice Theatre or Miller Stadium.

Gene Williams then reminded Rotarians about the new ordinance going into effect this year which will help the festival fund security and help curb underage drinking with the selling of alcohol wrist bands for $2. This allows those of age to purchase and drink alcohol on the festival grounds, which extend from the railroad tracks to 10th Street and from Avenues F to G.

“People think it is easy to put on a festival, but ask Amy (Thibodeaux) how hard it is to put on a Gumbo Cook-off much less a free festival,” said Gene Williams.

He also promoted the festival’s family day, Sunday, which is designed to give families a day of good clean fun.

To find out more about the entertainment and activities of this year’s festival as well as some of the festival’s long history, visit www.ricefestival.com.

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