Contraband Days has plenty of fun for all

By By Jordan Gribble / Special to the American Press

The Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival began in earnest Saturday with a day full of special events and performances.

Festivities began at 10 a.m. and

included an arm wrestling tournament; watercross and volleyball

contests; a showing of Australian

animals; and performances by the St. Louis Catholic Show Choir,

Matt McElveen and The Kids, Mark Reeves and Twisted X, Shailee

Cole and Larry Tillery.

“I’ve been involved with Contraband Days since 1994, and this one has everyone really excited,” said Annette Richey, festival

president.

“We’ve got some really good events this year, and this festival is good for the city. It has an extreme economic impact on

the area, and a cultural impact too, with music for everyone and events that integrate Louisiana heritage.”

Longtime Contraband Days attendee Michelle Menard said she was enjoying this year’s festival.

“I’ve been out here all day, everyone’s been out here mingling and I’m having a good time,” she said. “I’ve been coming to

Contraband Days since 1985, and it’s a part of our Louisiana heritage, and heritage is important.”

There was perhaps no one more excited

to be at the festival than Ray Hendricks, who was there to defend his

title as the festival’s

reigning arm wrestling champion since 1994. Hendricks has competed

in arm wrestling events worldwide and said he trains all

year for this competition.

“I do lots of different things to train — hand and wrist exercises and going to the gym regularly,” he said. “Everyone has

different arm wrestling techniques and strengths, but I’m undefeated since my first competition here.”

The Aussie Kingdom attraction — with

its kangaroos, wallabies and kookaburras — will continue today, as well

as Thursday-Saturday,

May 9-11. “The kangaroo was my favorite,” said 6-year-old Kaylee

Lentz. “I saw him hopping, and I wanted to pet him.”