Best of the Bayou marks return of a multi-day festival in downtown Houma

Best of the Bayou marks return of a multi-day festival in downtown Houma
Food and Fun

POSTED: Saturday, May 12, 2012 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Monday, May 14, 2012 - 10:40am

Planning is underway for a major festival coming late September to historic Downtown Houma. The festival is called Best of the Bayou and will occupy Downtown’s Main Street and surrounding areas for two days---Saturday, September 29 through Sunday, September 30.

The festival, which is a free-entry event, will feature the “best of the bayou” in music, food and arts-and-crafts. Its official mission is to showcase Houma-Terrebonne as a “premier tourist destination through a multi-day celebration of music, food, arts and our unique culture.” Best of the Bayou is the first two-day festival for downtown since the departure of Downtown on the Bayou almost ten years ago.

The re-birth of this downtown festival is the result of funding originating from BP, as part of its multi-million dollar settlement with Louisiana following the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Terrebonne Parish received just over two-million dollars from the Louisiana Office of Tourism to establish and market a number of tourism-related projects, which include a branding campaign, way-finding signage, along with the revival of a festival. A small portion of that money was designated to seed the festival for 2012 and 2013.

“A signature festival has been long overdue since the loss of the Downtown on the Bayou Festival. The fact that the Houma Chamber has taken on the project of developing this festival is huge for our tourism industry that was affected by the oil spill. Tourists should have the opportunity to visit Terrebonne Parish and experience the rich culture, music, and food we have to offer in one setting, which is what BOB-Fest will provide,” said Janel Ricca, Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center Director and member of the Terrebonne Parish Tourism Recovery Committee.

To help sustain the festival beyond 2013 and maintain it as a free event, Best of the Bayou--a 501-c3 non-profit organization, will sell beverages on-site and rent booths to food vendors and artisans, who will keep the profits from their sales. Best of the Bayou has also established a “Friends of the Festival” program, in addition to corporate partnership opportunities. “We want to maintain Best of the Bayou as a free festival, but the event has to be self-sustaining. We appreciate all of the community and corporate support that we’ve received to date. We want to develop a long-term event that Terrebonne Parish can be proud of,” said Chamber President & CEO Drake Pothier.

The blueprint of “BOB-FEST” is still being drafted, but is sure to include two major music stages at east and west points of the grounds, and will feature musicians with national and regional acclaim, as well as local favorites of the bayou region. Existing plans are to surround the Courthouse Square with the main food court, which will highlight almost two dozen restaurants and professional caterers from Louisiana. The square itself will remain “green” for relaxing and possibly other activities under the ancient oak trees.

Original art and hand-made crafts will be on display via booths near the square on adjacent streets and tentatively other downtown areas. Only original works will be accepted for exhibition and sale in the festival marketplace. Best of the Bayou is partnering with another non-profit organization, Options for Independence/Gulf Coast Marketplace, to screen and select vendors and manage their applications and on-site needs. Interested and eligible persons should contact Brandi LeCompte at 985-438-1231 or by email at brandi@thegulfcoastmarketplace.org.

For now, potential vendors for food should contact Festival Manager Lori Benoit at 985-876-5600 or via email at festival@houmachamber.com for more information.

Soon the festival will also be accepting nominations for a poster contest. Details will be forthcoming but local and regional artists ages 16 and older will be eligible to compete in the contest to design the first-ever Best of the Bayou poster.

Future updates will be released on the Best of the Bayou website at www.bestofthebayou.org, as well as the festival’s official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bestofthebayou. “Like” us and visit us online often for the most current information on Best of the Bayou.

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