Tour du Teche II, the second paddle race along the entire length of Bayou Teche, will see dozens of boats and hundreds of participants in Franklin this Saturday and Berwick on Sunday.
The race totals 135 miles along Bayou Teche, ranging from pristine cypress and sweet gum bottomland to commercial and municipal districts.
Tonight a special kick-off ceremony for paddlers, supporters and sponsors will be held in Port Barre.
Paddlers will take off Friday at 7 a.m. and many will have their eye on a prize pot worth $16,000. There are also numerous shorter races paddlers can elect to participate in, with their own community prizes.
The Saturday stop along Parc sur la Teche in Franklin will be filled with volunteers, staff and later in the day, music, food and fun.
Though the race was a straight-through marathon last year, organizers have broken it up into three legs: Port Barre to St. Martinville, then to Franklin and finally to the finish line in Berwick. Paddlers and their road crews will stay in each city overnight Friday and Saturday.
Franklin’s volunteer cleanup members will be tidying up the area of Parc sur la Teche Saturday morning to help present the city in its best light.
The community is invited to welcome paddlers from all over the world to the city.
Residents along Bayou Teche are encouraged to set up “cheering stations” as the paddlers pass through. It would be a good time for a get-together and to encourage the paddlers as well as welcome them to St. Mary Parish.
The race ends at Everett S. Berry Lighthouse Park in Berwick.
Here in Franklin at 3 p.m. the party begins with Flashback, a local band specializing in classic rock and roll.
They’ll relinquish the stage at 6 p.m. while welcomes are presented by St. Mary Parish Paul Naquin, Franklin Mayor Raymond Harris and other local officials.
Paddlers and their crews will be provided supper by Franklin’s own Main Street Café, and they’ll be energized by breakfast from Joe’s on the Bayou, just off of Par sur la Teche, for the start of the race Sunday morning.
At 7 p.m., John Chauvin’s Mojo band will bring a taste of Zydeco and swamp pop music until 10 p.m.
In Berwick, the Berwick Fire Department will be providing lunch at $10 a plate. Dejavu will begin playing at 1 p.m.