Bear Festival, Wooden Boat Show entertained visitors
Clear skies and cool days graced the Tenth Annual Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival and Bayou Teche Wooden Boat Show last weekend.
The festival gathered food and crafts vendors, bands, education exhibits, children’s activities, Bayou Teche National Refuge tours and a canoe paddle among the activities for the weekend.
“I would like to thank the people that supported us especially the community that came out this weekend,” said co-organizer Edgar Dugas III. “As always I am impressed by the number of people that came from out of town, state and even country. We had visitors from Texas, Oklahoma, Holden, Louisiana, Colorado, London, Wyoming, Alabama and Virginia to name a few. To be able to show the world what we have here is important to me and without an event to catch their eye many may not have come. I encourage anyone that would like to volunteer to be part of next year’s event to contact us.”
Among the participants was the BEARS amateur radio group. Jackie Price, BEARS exhibit organizer, said, “We logged in 140 contacts, the furthest were Japan and Malaysia, as well as many different states. Many people asked about the Bear Festival and to tell them more! A couple people said, ‘Yes, we talked to you last year and were looking for you.’ A couple from the Dallas area showed up, I had sent them tourist info, and they brought people from Montana with them. They took the boat ride and looked at everything in Franklin.”
Festival co-organizers Judith Allain gave kudos to the BEARS and everyone who helped make the event happen.
“It was a wonderful Bear Festival with made-to-order weather,” Allain said. “U.S. Fish and Wildlife did another superb job with their displays on Saturday in the Bear-y Patch. We appreciate all that they so generously contribute to the festival. The BEARS made 140 contacts from as far away as Japan and Malaysia. Cajun Horseshoes had teams participating from the fire and police departments, city council and parish council, and local citizens.”
The Franklin Fire Department came in with top honors in the Cajun Horseshoes competition, which prompted Chief Chuck Bourgeois to boast, “Franklin Police Department misfires, Franklin Fire Department blazes through competition.”
Second-place honors went to the Franklin City Council, leaving the police department out of the awards at third.
Police Chief Sabria McGuire said, “I have to give (assistant fire chief) Jeff Hildreth all props, he played horseshoes like Michael Jordan plays basketball. But in the 5K Run/Walk, my guy left their guy way, way behind and won the male division of the race.”
Finishing up in the lead of the 5K Run/Walk was Erin Delaune of Jefferson, La., at a time of 22:44. She was the first across the finish line and also the first woman runner to finish.
The first male to finish was Franklin Police Officer Peter Firmin of Baldwin with a time of 34:41.
The canoe paddle headed up by Donovan Garcia had 18 paddlers, totaling 25 states.
The fourth Bayou Teche Wooden Boat Show welcomed 36 boats and their owners to the bayouside over the weekend.
Co-organizer Roger Stouff said visitors came from across Louisiana as well as Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.
“It was absolutely amazing what lengths people came through to participate in our event this year,” Stouff said. “Just one example is a couple from north Louisiana. The wife had neck surgeries just two weeks earlier and was still in a stiff, uncomfortable neck brace. Her husband phoned me to tell me they probably wouldn’t be able to come again this year. But Saturday morning, she woke up and asked her husband, ‘What are you doing?’ He said he was just making breakfast or something, and his wife replied, ‘Well, you had better get out there and get that boat ready, we’re going to Franklin!”
Stouff said the show brought together a unique collection of antique Louisiana boats, restored vessels such as Thompson and Correct Craft boats from the 1950s and 1960s and newly-built boats such as lake skiffs and much more.
“Our show has grown beyond our wildest expectations,” he said. “Every year it gets bigger as people leave here impressed with the BTWBS and with Franklin. They spread the word about what an exemplary event this is, what a nice place Franklin is, and more people come to the next show.”
“That’s a wrap,” festival co-organizer Delores Stewart said of the event. “We met a lot of people from out of the state and country who enjoyed the festival as well as Franklin. Thanks to everyone.”