Josh Ledet takes a break from singing to sign autographs for fans Saturday afternoon in Sulphur. (Michelle Higginbotham / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 06, 2012 11:36 AM
Joshua Ledet’s “American Idol” run may be over, but Ledet Mania is alive and well in Southwest Louisiana.
Around 3,000 people showed up at Sulphur’s pavilion Saturday to see Ledet’s free performance, Josh Ledet Picnic in the Square — a number that Sulphur city officials said is among the highest ever to turn out there for a show.
Chris Duncan, Sulphur mayor, and Renee Williams, an administrative assistant at City Hall, said they believed it was one of the largest crowds they had seen at the pavilion, as did Norman Farr, director of Sulphur Parks and Recreation, which doesn’t oversee the pavilion but often works in conjunction when the city holds events at Heritage Square.
Both Farr and Williams referenced the Percy Sledge concert last December as also being one of the larger crowds assembled at the pavilion. Both thought Saturday’s crowd was larger.
“It was a great event,” Duncan said. “I think a lot of people in the community were pleased, both the ones that were unable to get to Burton (Coliseum) and those unable to get to Lafayette, got a great show from Josh.”
Ledet performed at Burton on May 12 as part of his “American Idol” homecoming show and will be at the Cajundome in Lafayette on July 30 during a stop on the “American Idol” tour.
Planning for Saturday’s concert began after the family contacted Sulphur on Wednesday and it wasn’t announced to the public until Friday.
“What’s important here is the timespan that the word was out,” said Mel Estess, Sulphur Police Department spokesman. “Imagine what it would have been if we’d advertised for a long time like we do everything else. For a one-day notice, that was a major turnout.”
Ledet sang his standard “American Idol” fare — Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” and James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” — as well as gospel songs and numbers sung by Whitney Houston and Beyonce.
“When a Man Loves a Woman” was still a favorite. Both Duncan and Estess said that of the songs Ledet sang Saturday, they still enjoyed “When a Man Loves a Woman” most.
“I just love how he sings that,” said Duncan, who also had the privilege of having Sledge sing the song for him and his wife in December.
Despite the large turnout, there were no incidents, Estess said.
“Everything went real smooth,” Estess said, “just a real obedient crowd.”
Estess said there was one heat-related episode, but that the person was attended to at the park.
“The best thing we did, we called in the American Heritage Girls and the Boy Scouts and they went around passing water to everybody, making sure everybody stayed hydrated,” Duncan said. “We had a lot of volunteers.
“The community all came together to put this together, it wasn’t just Sulphur. A big player was the West Calcasieu Association of Commerce. They rounded up a lot of volunteers and donations.”