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|Music, booths, food on tap for Catfish Festival|
The Franklin Parish Catfish Festival board is fine-tuning plans for the April 12 event, which will include a concert by the original "Ragin' Cajun," fiddling great Doug Kershaw, and a fiddling contest.
The 22nd annual event will be held in downtown Winnsboro.
"Music is what gives the festival flavor, and we're excited to be featuring some great bands this year," said Nathan Roberts, entertainment coordinator. "This year's festival will definitely have some Louisiana spice with Doug Kershaw and the fiddling contest, along with one of Franklin Parish's own, Jason Barton with the Christian rock band 33Miles."
Another Louisiana twist is Shades of Praise, a multi-cultural gospel group from New Orleans.
"It's an exciting line-up," Roberts said.
The festival's volunteer board is working on details as the event nears – ranging from final approval of this year's T-shirt design to accepting port-a-john bids and deciding who's picking up bands at the airport.
"This is always a busy time," festival Director Paul Price Jr. said. "We've been doing this for a while now, but we keep working to make sure everything is in place for a successful festival."
That includes all of the usual ingredients – arts and crafts, commercial booths, antique cars and tractors, children's activities and, of course, food.
"Our booth spaces are filling up rapidly," Price said, "and our food court was full months ago." There are still a limited number of booths available to interested arts and crafts vendors, he added.
Fried catfish reigns on the food court, but there will be other festival fare as well – everything from hamburgers to funnel cakes, fresh-squeezed lemonade to turkey legs.
A 5,000-gallon tank stocked with fish will return to this year's festival. The display, which is manned by experienced anglers, debuted last year, but demonstrations were hindered by the weather.
"We're looking forward to having them back and enjoying professional casting demonstrations throughout the day," Price said.
Also returning will be a flower show, held in the Princess Room downtown, next to the Princess Theatre.
Stages near the Council on Aging headquarters and Old Glory in Patriot Square are booked solid with musical talent. Plans are still being shaped up for a third stage behind the Old Post Office Museum. "We're hoping to feature some local musicians on that stage throughout the day," Roberts said.
The fiddling contest will be held at 12 noon at the Old Glory stage, with Doug Kershaw and his band performing on that stage at 3:30 p.m. Also appearing on the Old Glory Stage will be Gene King's band at 11 a.m.; Bayou Crossing at 1 p.m.; and LC Smoove at 2:15 p.m.
Jason Barton and 33Miles, a Dove and Grammy-nominated band, will perform on the COA stage at 2 p.m. with Shades of Praise following at 3:30 p.m. Southern Gospel performers Mystery Men Quartet will perform on the COA stage at 11 a.m.
Dancers and cloggers will also be in abundance on festival day.
Admission to the festival is $3, an increase of $1 over previous years.
"We've resisted raising admission for years," Price said. "Our expenses have continued to rise, however, and we felt it was time for a change to insure the financial stability of the festival."
Proceeds from the festival are funneled back into the event and into community projects, such as scholarships for local students and the children's park.
"We want to continue to provide a fun, entertaining festival for years to come," Price said. "This event puts a positive spotlight on our parish and on our people. And many groups are able to raise funds during the festival for a number of worthwhile causes. We're proud to be a part of that."
For more information about the festival and entertainment or registration forms for the fiddling contest or booths, visit the festival website: www.franklinparishcatfishfestival.com.