Voice of the Wetlands Festival runs Friday through Sunday in Houma _lowres

AP photo/The Houma Daily Courier -- Tab Benoit -- Cajun-blues singer-guitarist Tab Benoit spearheads the Voice of the Wetlands Festival in Houma.

In its 12th year, the Voice of the Wetlands Festival is moving. After more than 10 years at Southdown Plantation in Houma, the festival will take place on 145 acres of privately owned land known as The Ponderosa. The new address in Houma is 5407 West Park Ave.

“It’s really beautiful grounds with old live oaks,” said Cajun-blues musician and festival founder Tab Benoit. “I couldn’t find a better spot in the parish to do it.”

The music-based festival, which promotes awareness of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands loss crisis, runs Friday through Sunday.

This year’s performers include Benoit, playing at the event for the first time with his own band. The many New Orleans musicians appearing include Mia Borders, the Honey Island Swamp Band and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux. As always, the Voice of the Wetland All-Stars, including Benoit, Boudreaux and Johnny Sansone, will play the festival’s Sunday night closing set.

For the past few months, Benoit and his crew have been preparing The Ponderosa grounds for Voice of the Wetlands Festival.

“Getting ready for people to come for music, to play, and for food to be cooked,” he said last week. “All of the things we love about doing festivals in south Louisiana.”

Festival admission is free. The event does derive income from concessions and merchandise sales, but making money has never been the goal, Benoit said.

“It’s always been about trying to show people, especially people from out of state, what we have down here on the coast,” he said.

With that mission in mind, the Voice of the Wetlands Festival keeps pilots on standby for the purpose of flying festivalgoers over the Louisiana coast. Cost is $40 per passenger.

“All of the people who take the flight instantly know what’s going on with coastal erosion,” Benoit said. “They don’t have to see it on the news. They don’t have to hear somebody’s opinion. They get a bird’s-eye view.”

Benoit experienced wetlands loss on a personal level. The 300 acres of land, marsh and cypress swamp he grew up on has receded to 40 acres.

“Behind our house, when you get over the levee, there’s nothing left,” he said. “It’s all open water. But that’s where we learned fishing and hunting and how to survive in the swamp and the marshes. That was our playground. That’s where I wrote my first song.

“I’ve always felt the spirit of the place. It always steered me right. But now, I feel the swamp screaming out for help.”