And the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival is geared up and rearing to go.
Organizers Judith Allain, Edgar Dugas III and Delores Stewart took a moment out of scrambling to get everything ready for this ninth year’s event to give a sneak peek at what’s new and what’s coming back this weekend.
Allain said she is “most excited about the Cub Club Arena. We have beefed it up a lot and have activities Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.”
This year there’ll be a magic show, puppet show, story tellers throughout the day with stories about bears, arts and crafts, some that are very simple others will be a little more formal where you have to sign up. They’re divided by age groups and are age-appropriate.”
Games will be going on during the day, Allain said, and every child that plays gets “a little bitty surprise. We have some students from Hanson High School and other volunteers helping us out.”
Dr. Donna Tesi and Franklin Foundation Hospital will again host the Teddy Bear Clinic, where kids can bring in their beloved stuffed animals for a little tender loving care all during the Club hours.
“We have a bungee jump, hamster-ball thing on the water, and one on the grassy area,” Allain said. “This year there’s also going to be laser tag.”
Stewart said the Franklin High School Booster Club will be sponsoring basketball games, snowballs and more in about the center of the festival grounds along Parc sur la Teche.
“I think that the 5K run is going to be more active in some of the things that they’re doing, and we look for a good turnout,” Stewart said.
Dugas said he is “excited that sponsorship has slowly but surely stepped up to the plate. We get support from the parish, the city overwhelmingly, not just with financial support but more. But it’s with those sponsorships that we’re able to continue for it to be a free venue. Not many festivals these days are free. You can hear the bands we have free of charge. Without those sponsors and governments it wouldn’t be that way.”
Not being charged for admittance, the organizers hope visitors use that money to support the vendors that will be on the festival grounds this weekend.
The festival has recently organized itself as a non-profit group and has taken the reins and initiative from the Black Bear Conservation Committee that until now has been the umbrella organization over the festival. “We’ll keep the funds here now,” Dugas said. “We had a good relationship with the BBCC, and they’ve been waiting for us to get off on our feet for nine years, and we appreciate that. It was time for us to get out on our own and do our own thing.”
Stewart said vendors have been calling this week. “My phone has been blowing up!” she laughed.
“I think one of the things we’ve been doing is to refine the certain areas and activities to make them the best they can be,” Allain said. “The number one thing though is we need many more volunteers. You can come in and have fun. I’m delighted many of the young people are coming in. It’s our community, if we want to be successful, come in and put in a few hours.”
For more information on the festival’s events and music, visit: