Shrimp & Petroleum Festival starts

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Thursday to open the 79th Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival, which continues through Monday. Among those present were Festival King Michael Patterson, Festival Queen Hailee Thomas, Children’s Day King Remington Begley, Children’s Day Queen Emily Price, board members and workers of the Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival, members of the St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce, Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi, parish officials, family and friends.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)

Danielle Wiese and Makayla Miller ride the Sizzler on the opening of the carnival on Thursday.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)

People were in line to buy bracelets Thursday for the opening of the 79th Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)

Festival King Michael Patterson and Queen Hailee Thomas rode on the Ferris wheel with the king’s nephews Dominic Tranchina and Thomas Nini on Thursday to open the 79th Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)

Weekend of fun planned at 79th festival

The Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival continues through Monday and organizers are hoping it will be one of the best years yet despite the forecast.
“We hope that it’s up there in the top with some of the best we’ve had,” festival director Lee Delaune said. “It’s the 79th. Next year is that big 80. We’re hoping that the crowds come out.”
Delaune added that this year features one of the largest groups of arts and crafts, and food vendors to date.
With rain chances at 60 percent today, 70 percent Saturday and 60 percent Sunday, festival-goers should be prepared.
“Even if it rains we’re going to try our best for the show to go on and we hope that they support us and the vendors,” said Nathalie Webber, chairwoman of the festival board. “It is under the bridge, so there is some protection from the weather.”
Delaune concurred. “We want everybody to come out and enjoy themselves whether weather permits or not. Come support the oldest chartered harvest festival and the Tri-City area. If it weren’t for the Tri-City area, we wouldn’t be here.”
New to the festival this year is an app for iPhone and Android that gives information on band times and scheduled events.
The 37th annual Arts and Crafts Show and Sale opens at 5 p.m. and continues through the weekend. The music stage cranks up at 5 p.m. as does the Cajun Culinary Classic, both in Lawrence Park.
The Artists Guild Unlimited’s 51st annual show and sale will be held daily from 11 a.m. at 5 p.m. at the Everett Street Gallery, adjacent to the festival grounds.
Saturday features a 5K fun run/walk beginning at City Hall in Morgan City, and the festival car show begins on the M.D. Shannon Elementary school grounds, both at 8 a.m.
Children’s Day Activities begin at 9 a.m. with field games, and a Children’s Day mini street parade at 11:30 a.m. near the park. The Children’s Village opens at the park at 1 p.m. with a ribbon cutting.
The Fellowship of Love Gospel Stage will be at Shannon Elementary beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and returning at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Sunday kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with the Mass in the Park at Lawrence Park or at Holy Cross Catholic Church in the case of inclement weather.
It is followed by the festival’s premiere event, the Blessing of the Fleet and Water Parade on the Atchafalaya River. The event includes fishing and pleasure vessels parading in Berwick Bay as they are blessed by a priest. It culminates with two oil field boats coming bow to bow to bring the festival king and queen together for a toast.
Following the Blessing is a new event, the Atchafalaya Oar Boat Races.
Event organizer Dutch Vandenaardweg said years ago Morgan City hosted oar-powered boat races and they will resume this year in what he hopes will become an annual event.
The event is non-sanctioned and has the blessing of the festival.
“The course is from the opening in the sea wall, toward the bridges, around a buoy and back to the start line,” Vandenaardweg said.
Two teams, Charlie’s Pawn Pirates and the Dragna Dragoons, will race this year in the boats “Marmalade” and “Lemon Drop” which were built from old life boats by F.C. “Butch” Felterman.
There will be cash prizes and the winner will challenge next year’s team.
“We hope this event will grow and become an annual tradition,” Vandenaardweg said.
A street parade in downtown Morgan City begins at 3 p.m. at Second and Onstead streets. It continues down Second to Everett Street. From there the route takes a left to Sixth Street and then another left onto Greenwood Street. The parade disbands under the U.S. 90 bridge.
Fireworks on the River caps off Sunday’s event at 9 p.m. over Berwick Bay.
Monday is the final day of the festival featuring $25 pay-one-price ride bracelets from noon to 4 p.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Music, food, crafts and more will be available Monday.
Capt. James Blair, Morgan City police spokesman, said visitors from around the globe will be in the area for the festival, so those attending should remember some basic safety tips “to make your visit to the festival grounds pleasant and enjoyable for all.”
The biggest change this year is that all vehicle traffic in both the northbound lanes and southbound lanes of Federal Avenue at its intersection with Greenwood Street (under the bridge) will be closed during festival hours. Avoid traveling the area at all costs, if possible. It will get congested there with people looking for parking spots, Blair said.
He said southbound traffic still can turn up the U.S. 90 bridge, while northbound traffic will have to divert at Greenwood Street. Signs will be in place to direct traffic, Blair said.
Parking is allowed along Federal Avenue, under portions of the La. 182 bridge, on Brashear Avenue and on the streets surrounding the fairgrounds.
Webber said the festival is ready to welcome its visitors.
“All the vendors and bands have confirmed. The carnival is in place. Everything is ready,” Webber said.

By JEAN L. McCORKLE jmccorkle@daily-review.com

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