JENNINGS — The Gator Chateau and Visitors Center in Jennings has been recognized by the state as “Attraction of the Year.”
The attraction was recently awarded the Louey Award from the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association. The award recognizes the facility for its outstanding contributions to the Louisiana tourism industry.
More than 37,000 local and international visitors visited the new $664,000 Gator Chateau after its opening last May, according to Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission Chief Executive Officer Marion Fox.
“The Gator Chateau directly affects Jeff Davis Parish’s quality of life providing an exciting attraction for locals and their guests from out of the parish, as well as international visitors,” Fox said. “It is the only attraction in Louisiana where holding a baby gator is an everyday occurrence.”
The new 5,000-square-foot facility replaces a much smaller Gator Chateau at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Park, located just off Interstate
10. The larger facility allows more room to welcome local and international visitors and tour groups each year.
“We are tremendously proud of our new attraction and what it brings to not only Jeff Davis Parish, but tourism on a state level,” Gator Chateau Director Dione Sabelhaus said. “We strive to make each visitor have a one-of-a-kind experience when they visit. We are confident this new designation will encourage even more visitors to stop by.”
Visitors to Gator Chateau can see alligators of varying sizes up close in the lazy river pond and have a chance to hold and take photos with baby alligators. The attraction also features two turtles including Pierre, a more than 60-year-old alligator snapping turtle and the Parrain, the exhibit’s newest turtle.
Other amenities include a front porch with rocking chairs, a back viewing deck and gift shop.
The park also features a children’s play area, a walking trail around a fishing pond stocked with bass, perch, and trout. It also hosts several festivals and events each year including car shows, marathon races and school field trips.
The Gator Chateau project was a joint project with the city of Jennings. The new facility was dedicated to past board member, Bobby Palermo, chairman of the building committee and was instrumental in the project. The building was also completed with a grant from the Zigler Foundation.