Frog Festival tweaks talked at Chamber board meeting
Returning from a summer hiatus, the board of directors of the Rayne Chamber of Commerce faced a full agenda for its September meeting.
Nearly an hour of the 90-minute session involved the 2018 Frog Festival to be held in May.
Jeremy Lavergne, who has served as cochairman under Roy Credeur for the past few years, has assumed the chairmanship and will be implementing some new ideas for the 46th annual event, most noticeable among which will be the availability of beer on the festival grounds and the number of bands to perform.
Beginning this year, the Chamber of Commerce alone will offer beer for sale at the Frog Festival. Last year the Rayne Jaycees were the only other organization selling beer.
“We talked to the Jaycees and they’re okay with it,” Lavergne said, adding that this was a board decision. “They will continue to participate in the festival and will still have the exclusive on fried frog legs.”
Nikki Link, board president, admitted that the meeting with the Jaycees was something she had not been looking forward to, but added that “it went really well. In fact, they said they were kind of surprised that we hadn’t taken this step sooner.”
It was pointed out that the sponsoring entity — whether it be an association or a chamber of commerce — at most area festivals is the lone provider of beer and alcohol at those events.
Concerning music, Lavergne said he has “added new band slots” to the Saturday schedule.
Those slots will fill in the lull in the afternoon between the parade and the evening.
Also, the board voted to have the Beautification Board’s Arts and Crafts booths return to the adjoining Civic Center.
The booths had moved to the fairgrounds for the last two years but, according to Lavergne, organizers had requested to move back into the Civic Center for the 2018 show.
Any vendors that wish to remain on the festival grounds will be treated as a “regular” vendor with a booth space.
Other tweaks for this year’s festival announced by Lavergne included:
• the naming of an “honoree” for the parade in addition to the Grand Marshal;
• a revamped and enlarged “kids’ area” on the fairgrounds;
• the use of scanners for checking IDs; and
• a $1 entry fee on Thursday night — “We provide a band and we simply can’t afford to keep doing it and losing money,” the chairman explained.
Blaine Dupont, chairman of the chamber’s Farmers Market program, told board members that the August move from the Frog Festival Pavilion to The Depot Square marked a turn-around in the monthly event.
He said the number of vendors was dwindling at the Pavilion, primarily because “we were out of sight, out of mind.
“Now, right there in the middle of town, the turnout of both vendors and patrons was incredible.”
Twenty-nine vendors participated in the August event and Dupont said the September event — which was held Saturday, Sept. 12 — had 41 confirmed vendor reservations.
“Next month will mark two years since we started this project and we’re planning to celebrate it,” he said.
Dr. Eddie Palmer reported that the OST Committee is in the process of planning an “OST Day” observance on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Activities will be centered around The Depot Square with antique cars, period dress, food and other activities.
More definite plans will be announced as they are finalized, according to Palmer.
Michelle Autin announced that the chamber’s Grand Court Mardi Gras Ball will be held Saturday, Jan. 13, at the Rayne Civic Center and will be themed “The Emerald City: There’s No Place Like Home.”
Court members are being finalized and will be introduced during a social on Sunday, Sept. 17, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Rayne City Hall.
The meal for the noon chamber meeting was provided by Brian Mouton, owner of BSM Investments, LLC.