La Fête d’Ecologie Saturday at Lake End Park

The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary consists of 13 parishes, and is one of 28 national estuaries.
Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program
The 17th annual La Fête d’ Ecologie will take over Lake End Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, the third year the festival has been held at the venue, and will feature music, food and interactive exhibits while focusing on efforts to restore Louisiana’s wetlands.
The festival is organized by the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, based in Thibodaux at Nicholls State University and is administered through the Louisiana Universities and Marine Consortium. BTNEP has been in existence since 1991. 
The aim of the festival is to create a sense of stewardship for the need to restore the Barataria and Terrebonne national estuaries. “We try to tie in the physical place, the wetlands, barrier islands, the marshes to the protection of our culture,” BTNEP Executive Director Kerry St. Pé said.
The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary consists of 13 parishes, and is one of 28 national estuaries. The estuary covers 4.2 million acres between the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers. The program is designed to educate people throughout those parishes, BTNEP event coordinator Kristy Monier said.
The fête will feature music by Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie from 10:45 to noon, Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., Don Rich Band from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and King PaKaYea’ Band from 3:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.
St. Pé said people wanting to get involved in restoring the coast can be a part of BTNEP’s volunteer programs through the Bayou Lafourche cleanup program, invasive species removal programs, water quality programs, and bird habitat projects.
The fête features 13 folk life artists who will demonstrate carving, painting oyster shells and recyclable items, and cast net making among other demonstrations. “Everything that they’re doing is estuary, heritage, and culture-related,” Monier said.
Exhibitors at the festival will include government agencies and non-profits. The American Sugarcane League, the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana are among the agencies scheduled to attend.
The Bureau of Applied Research and Anthropology from the University of Arizona, which has performed research on the area, will present its findings to the public, Monier said.
The Nicholls State Biology Society will also attend. The exhibitors will educate festivalgoers on what their organizations are doing for coastal restoration. “Every exhibitor’s going to be different,” Monier said. Kids’ activities will be available and the event is educational, she said.
The festival will go on “rain or shine,” Monier said. The 2012 fête hosted about 2,500 people, she said. The fête used to be held in Thibodaux but was moved to Morgan City in 2011. “Lake End Park, the scenery is just amazing, basically it’s what our festival is,” Monier said. 
Jambalaya, white beans, fried fish, fried shrimp, pulled pork sandwiches, crawfish hush puppies with crawfish sauce, and hamburgers will be sold at the festival.
St. Pé said Lake End Park is a perfect venue for the festival. There was enough space in Thibodaux, but event organizers just wanted the event to be held at another place. 
A duck-calling contest will be held at 1 p.m. followed by a cast net throwing contest at 2 p.m.
“It looks like a wetland area. It looks like a place that a national estuary program would be. And we’re going to explore moving it to other places in the future,” St. Pé said. 
The festival gives away a lot of items, he said. 
The event is not a  fundraiser, he said. “This festival costs us a lot of money. Thankfully, we have some sponsors to lessen the cost to our program,” St. Pé said. The sponsors realize without a place they would not have their businesses here, he said.
The festival is “very unique” because, in addition to the music, visitors can learn what is being done to restore the estuary, St. Pé said. Admission to the festival is free.

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