Iowa hopping over annual Rabbit Festival

By By Jordan Gribble / American Press

The town of Iowa was hopping Saturday, the last day of its annual Rabbit Festival, which was started 27 years ago to promote

the area’s only rabbit-processing plant.

“Back in the mid-1980s when we started this festival there was a large population of rabbit breeders in the area and even

a plant that processed rabbits as a food source,” said festival representative Jennifer Kershaw.

“The plant eventually closed and there are far fewer rabbit breeders here than there used to be, but we hold the festival

every year anyway to celebrate the rabbits.”

Rabbits are now celebrated at the festival both as adorable pets to take home and as food. Members of the Iowa Lion’s Club

have been serving a Louisiana favorite with a twist at the festival for seven years.

“Some people make chicken sauce piquante, some people make sausage sauce piquante; we make rabbit sauce piquante every year

for this festival,” said club member Charlie Barnes. “Rabbit tastes very similar to chicken and doesn’t have a wild taste.

If you like chicken, you’ll like our sauce piquante.”

For years a large part of the festival

was the availability of bunnies to be bought and taken home as pets.

This year’s festival

didn’t have rabbits for sale, but many of the carnival’s game

booths offered them as prizes, with many children trying their

luck to take home a pet.

“I want to win a black and white bunny to take home,” said 4-year-old Kayden Boudreaux of Lake Charles. “I want to name him

Mario, pet him and feed him bunny food.”

In addition to food, vendor booths, a gumbo cookoff and carnival rides, the festival’s entertainment included more than 10

bands playing over the course of the festival’s three-day schedule.

“We’ve had a great turnout the whole weekend,” Kershaw said. “This festival always does well, and from ticket sales we are able to donate nearly $30,000 annually back to the city of

Iowa and four to 10 scholarships a year to local high school seniors.”