LAKE ARTHUR — The 4th annual Lake Arthur Regatta makes its return this weekend with thousands of visitors enjoying the beach, boats and bikinis.
“This is a high energy festival with something for everyone,” Festival Chairman Troy Trahan said.
The festival kicks off Thursday with the opening of the Mitchell Brothers carnival and continues through Saturday with a drag boat exhibition, sailboat races, live music, food and more. The carnival continues through Sunday.
Traditionally held the last weekend in May, the festival was pushed back to June this year to help jumpstart the summer celebration at the lake.
“Historically the Regatta has always been held Memorial Day weekend and in the past we weren’t competing against many other events, but in recent years we have been competing against dozens of other events,” Trahan said. “We realized we needed to consider changing the date and the second weekend in June was perfect because there was no other events going on at that time.”
The festival has attracted nearly 10,000 people each year. Trahan hopes by moving the date to early June, it will help attract even more.
The festival has also been expanded this year to include the four-day carnival and a drag boat exhibition from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday.
Two-days of almost non-stop music featuring some of the hottest regional and national bands is also on tap for the weekend, according to Trahan.
“The music is a good mix of gender and musical talent so there will be something for everyone,” Trahan said. “We have everything from traditional Cajun music to hip hop dance, country and rock.”
Other festival highlights include a 5K run, sailboat races, blessing of the fleet and a bikini and swimsuit contest.Vendors will also be on hand selling food, drinks and festival merchandise.
The carnival will open with Family Night from 5-10 p.m. Thursday. It continues at 4 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday with special $25 wristband hours.
“We were seeing more and more families coming out and we wanted to try to provide a little more family entertainment and keep with the Regatta theme,” Trahan said. “The carnival will offer a variety of rides from kids’ to thrill rides.”
The carnival will be located in the baseball field adjacent to the Lake Arthur Park and along Park and Lake streets. The streets will be closed off for the carnival.
Most other activities will take place in and around the park.
The main stage and dance area have been relocated to the tennis courts underneath the oak trees.
“Instead of the stage being on main street we have moved it into the park and set it up on the tennis courts so the festival attendees will have some shade from the live oaks,” Trahan said.
Friday night’s musical line-up kicks off at 6 p.m. with Travis Matte and The Kingpins, followed by T.J. Gautreaux and LA Soul at 8 p.m. Nashville recording artist Frank Foster returns to close out the evening from 10 p.m.-midnight.
Music continues at 9 a.m. on Saturday with Richard LeBouef and Two Step, followed by The Cory Landry Band at 11:30 a.m., Boot Hill Band at 2 p.m., Krossfyre at 5 p.m., Wayne Toups and Zydecajun at 7:30 p.m. and closing out with the Ying Yang Twins from 10 p.m.-midnight.
“We put a tremendous amount of thought and research into booking our bands,” Trahan said. “We look for bands to attract different demographics and progress those throughout the day to get the most energy and maximize our attendance. We scout bands all year long for the festival.”
The Regatta Sail and Sun 5K replaces the triathlon this year. The more than three-mile run will begin at 8 a.m. in the park.
“The route will include some very picturesque scenes along the lakefront and boardwalk, so it will be a nice run,” Trahan said.
Participants are encouraged to wear beach, boating, Caribbean or Hawaiian themed clothing.
Team LA has partnered with the Lake Arthur Parent Teacher Organization to dedicate proceeds from the run to help with medical bills for student Aaron Monceaux who was injured in a car accident in May.
Participants can register on-line or on the day of the event. Registration forms are available at www.lakearthurfestivals.com.
The Regatta Sailboat Races, sponsored by the Lake Arthur Yacht Club, will be held noon-3 p.m. Saturday with the Blessing of the Fleet at 12:30 p.m. The festival queens will be introduced at 1:30 p.m. on the main stage.
The Miss Sizzlin Sailor bikini and Mr. Sizzlin Sailor Swimsuit contests will be held 4-5 p.m. Saturday.
“We introduced the Mr. Sizzlin Sailor swimsuit contest last year to see how it would do and it went over well, so we’re bringing it back this year along with the Miss Sizzlin Sailor bikini contest,” Trahan said.
Admission for the Regatta is $10 per day. Children 5 and under free get in free. The main entrance gate will be located at the corner of Arthur Avenue and Lake Street.
“For the quality of entertainment that we have, it’s hard to beat for only a $10 admission,” Trahan said.
Proceeds from the festival are used by Team LA to improve and promote historic downtown Lake Arthur, Trahan said.
Past proceeds have helped construct a new wharf and organizers hope this year’s proceeds will help provide new picnic pavilions in the park.
“The town has already applied for a grant to redo all the pavilions, hopefully we can help the town offset that project with matching funds,” Trahan said. “So hopefully by the 2015 Regatta people will see all new pavilions and a great improvement to the park.”