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The 3rd annual Allen Parish Canoe Festival will be this weekend at the Allen Parish Fair Grounds. (Special to the American Press)

The 3rd annual Allen Parish Canoe Festival will be this weekend at the Allen Parish Fair Grounds. (Special to the American Press)

Allen Canoe Festival this weekend

Last Modified: Thursday, April 24, 2014 10:55 AM

By Doris Maricle / American Press

OBERLIN — For a weekend of family fun, head to Allen Parish for the Canoe Festival at the parish fairgrounds. The festival will open at 4 p.m. Friday with carnival rides, games, crafts and food booths and live music. Opening ceremonies will be at 5 p.m.

Festival organizer Matt Hebert said there are some new additions to this year’s festival, including a parade and 5K Color Run/Walk. “It’s a way of bringing family and friends together to have a good time and enjoy spring,” he said. “But it’s also a way of promoting the local canoe industry on the Ouiska Chitto.”

Last year’s festival drew 6,500 people in two days. Hebert hopes to double the attendance this year by offering more for people to see and do.

“We just want everyone to come out, enjoy the family and have fun in Allen Parish,” he said.

Following open ceremonies on Friday, The Backyard Boyz will take the stage at 6 p.m., followed by Jamie Bergeron and The Kicking Cajuns at 8 p.m.

The festival will close at 11 p.m., but will reopen at 7 a.m. Saturday with a second day of food, family and fun. Saturday’s activities will begin at 7 a.m. with registration for the sauce piquant and jambalaya cookoff.

A 5K Color Run/Walk, in which participants are blasted with color, will be at 8 a.m. at the fairgrounds. The carnival rides, games and booths will open at 9 a.m.

A parade has been added to Saturday’s lineup, beginning at 11 a.m. at the fairgrounds and continuing to downtown Oberlin.

Judging for the sauce piquant and jambalaya cookoff will begin at noon. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place in each division.

Prizes will also be awarded for best-decorated booth, most creative team and most Cajun booth.

Entertainment will be provided noon-7 p.m.

A canoe-carrying race will be at 1 p.m., with three-person teams competing against one another to see who can haul a canoe to a designated area the fastest.

Gyth Rigdon will kick off the evening’s entertainment at 7:30 p.m., followed by Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys at 10 p.m. The festival will close at 12:30 a.m.

Admission at the gate is $5 per day. Parking is free. All proceeds from the festival will help fund a community service scholarship to be awarded each year to an outstanding local senior, Hebert said.

The festival got its start in 2012 as part of a senior class project for Hebert. “Until then we only really had the parish fair,” he said. “And I wanted something more for people to do.”

A group of community leaders helped him organize the first festival at the Veterans Park, and it has been successful ever since, he said.

The festival expanded to the parish fairgrounds last year to accommodate the large crowd.

It is a member of the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals.


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