SORRENTO — The Boucherie Festival is back.
For the first time in six years, the Sorrento Lions Club is celebrating the festival upon which the town once staked its reputation as the “Boucherie Capital of the World.”
The 2016 Boucherie Festival, sponsored by the Sorrento Lions Club, will be held Oct. 21-23, at the Sorrento Community Center, Lions Club Vice President Heather Templet said.
“We’re really excited about bringing this great festival back for everybody to enjoy and, most importantly, to support our local community,” Templet said.
The return of the festival, held annually for more than three decades to honor the area’s Cajun heritage, is tied to the town’s character and history.
“It gives Sorrento part of its identity back,” Mayor Mike Lambert said. “One of the things we were known for is the Boucherie.”
Lions Club President Rey Prado agreed.
“I think it was such a part of Sorrento for so long,” Prado said. “People associate that little pig with everything Sorrento.”
The festival’s revival is a long-term goal for the Sorrento Lion’s Club, a service organization that recently came close to disbanding after membership dwindled, service opportunities dried up and the club’s main fundraiser — the Boucherie Festival — ceased to exist.
For more than 25 years, the organization hosted the October festival at the Ascension Civic Center on Airline Highway.
The festival featured carnival rides, food and music plus cracklin’ and jambalaya cooking competitions and was reigned over by the year’s Miss Sorrento Boucherie Festival Queen.
The festival was postponed only once, by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
But six years later, in 2011, it was canceled because the Lions Club could not find a new location to hold the festival after the event was forced to move from the civic center.
The owner of the civic center property, the Ascension Parish School Board, had decided to use the property’s building as a storage warehouse and distribution center, leaving the festival without a home.
Last fall, Templet and Prado re-energized the club and hoped to put on a “smaller-scale Boucherie,” Templet said earlier this year.
But those small plans “went out the window” as bands, food vendors and a festival location came together faster than expected, Templet recently said.
“Once we started looking into the logistics of all it, we kind of figured out we’ve got ample area to do everything we want to do,” Prado said. “Everything we did before and not compromise on anything. We can bring it back just like it was.”
Although a smaller building than the festival’s previous site at the civic center, the town’s new 3,500-square-foot community center is equipped with a kitchen, an outdoor patio and sits on 16 acres that can be used for parking.
In case of heavy rain, Prado said local businesses have agreed to allow festivalgoers to park at their store lots. The Lions Club will then transport people to the community center, Prado said.
Festival organizers are still seeking sponsors, however, to help offset festival expenses.
The money raised by the festival will provide eyeglasses and hearing aids to the community and fund charities including the Louisiana Lions League for Crippled Children and the Louisiana Lions Eye Foundation, Templet said.
On the festival’s schedule is the Miss Sorrento Boucherie Festival Pageant; live music by Hai Karate, Sofa Kings and Foret Tradition; jambalaya and cracklin’ cooking competitions; plus a separate “Champ of Champs” cooking competition where past Boucherie Festival jambalaya and cracklin’ champions will compete for the grand title, Templet said.
“I think it’s going to be a wonderful highlight to our town and bring a positive vibe back to the town of Sorrento which it deserves,” Templet said. “We have lot of great people in Sorrento.”
For information or to volunteer at the Boucherie Festival, contact the Lions Club at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the club’s Facebook page at sorrentolionsclub-louisiana.
For information about the Miss Sorrento Boucherie Festival Pageant, contact pageant volunteers at (225) 622-5455.