ST. FRANCISVILLE — As children slid down a 50-foot ice luge, West Feliciana Parish President Kevin Couhig surveyed the crowd of about 3,000 people at the West Feliciana Sports Park for the first Big Chill in the Ville festival.
“This has certainly exceeded my expectations in every aspect,” said Couhig, the driving force behind the festival. “What’s better than to see all of these people, all ages, shapes and sizes and ethnic backgrounds coming together for some family fun and music? It’s a tremendous community event that shows everything that’s good about our parish.”
Residents from south Louisiana and southern Mississippi attended the first festival of its type at the sports park.
Couhig said the event, which had a budget of $51,000, raised at least $20,000 through sponsorships. In addition, he said beer sales and other food and beverage vendors will contribute significantly to help defray the cost.
“This exceeded what we expected financially, and we attracted people like (Baton Rouge Area Chamber President) Adam Knapp and his family to see what we have here in West Feliciana,” Couhig said. “Even if we make a profit, that’s not the point. The point is getting the community together and celebrating the nation’s birthday today.”
He said there were some lessons to learn from the event, such as managing the traffic flow.
“This crowd is three times what we expected,” Couhig said. “We’ll be better prepared to handle it. But I have to say we have the best parks and recreation staff around. We couldn’t do it without them working so hard.”
There were a number of attractions for the attendees, including the 50-foot ice luge, water balloon battles, a rock climbing wall, a photo booth and plenty of food. Sno-balls were a big hit as the afternoon temperature was in the mid-90s. Besides music by opening act Boogie Long & The Blues Revolution and headliner Phat Hat, the crowd was treated to a fireworks display to end the evening.
“I love it, everything is real nice,” said David Cage Young, of Woodville, Mississippi, who drove his motorcycle to the event with fellow member of the Wild Hogs club, Clarence Brown. “Yes indeed, I’ll come back, and we’ll bring my buddies in my club with us. They had to work today, but we’ll make sure they’re off next time.”