LIVINGSTON — More than 100 senior citizens packed the green barn at the Livingston Parish Fair on Friday, taking center stage for the day’s festivities as they anxiously awaited the names of this year’s Older Folks Day king and queen.
“This is really nice to honor them (senior citizens),” said Vivian Chiapetta, 83, as she waited for this year’s winners to be announced. “I’m all for it; they should be honored.”
The Livingston Parish Fair Board sponsors the annual event to recognize senior citizens 75 and older. This year, Lois Fitzgerald, 75, of Walker, was named the queen, and Edgar Richardson, 75, of Livingston, was named king.
“It feels strange,” Fitzgerald said about receiving the coveted honor.
“I’ve never won anything in my life except for a bunny rabbit, and I was, like, 10,” Fitzgerald said, as she sported her new crown and pondered walking around the fair to show it off following the Older Folks Day events.
“I think it’s great that somebody does something like this,” Fitzgerald said.
With a broad smile on his face, Nick Erdey said he felt great as he gave a thumbs-up. Erdey, 94, and his wife, Ethel, 89, were named the parish’s longest-married couple. The couple, who married on Jan. 11, 1942, live in Livingston.
Members of the Livingston Parish Council on Aging spent the morning preparing for the event. While the Fair Board sponsors the event, the COA feeds the more than 100 seniors and provides the door prizes each year.
Council on Aging Executive Director Leila Faucheux said the seniors love the recognition.
“Many of them tell us that if it wasn’t for us, they wouldn’t have family,” Faucheux said.
Ozelia Keller, 87, went to the event to “get out of the house and be with my friends.”
Keller, of French Settlement, attends the Livingston Parish Fair annually but said she “can’t get around like she used to.”
Other winners at Older Folks Day were the oldest man, Kermit Pitre, 92, of Livingston; and oldest woman, Cleo Gayle, 98, a lifelong Livingston Parish resident.
When asked her secret to longevity, Gayle said she always took care of herself and added that she eats whatever she wants.
“She doesn’t have any health problems,” said her daughter, Birdie Martin.
“She’s excited and happy because she won,” Martin said.
All seniors 75 and older received a yellow ribbon to wear throughout the day at the fair.