Planning for the third annual Louisiana Veterans Festival — or LA Vets Fest — is underway, with events kicking off on Saturday at the West Feliciana Sports Park off U.S. 61 in St. Francisville.

For the past two years, the Louisiana Veterans Foundation has hosted this family-friendly festival to honor the state’s veterans, a news release said.

This year, the festival features arts and crafts, food, music, auctions, static military displays and children’s activities, festival organizers said.

“We have plans to raise the bar,” said LVF board member Tom Hildebrand. “Vets Fest 2014 will be bigger and better than ever.”

LVF says it has joined forces with music producer Johnny Palazzotto of Pal Productions Co. to make the festival more appealing to area residents of all ages.

Voting is another way to honor Louisiana veterans, and supporter Secretary of State Tom Schedler hopes to spread that message with the Honor Vets Vote program, the news release stated.

“With election season in full swing in Louisiana, I am constantly reminding voters to honor the sacrifice made by our military service members and consider dedicating their vote to a veteran,” Schedler said. “By participating in the Honor Vets Vote program, I’m hoping to ... demonstrate in a meaningful way that our veterans deserve our upmost respect and recognition. ”

Festival proceeds benefit LVF, which supports Louisiana veterans and their families as well as active duty military and dependents. The organization also offers employment assistance for veterans returning to Louisiana.

The schedule of events for Saturday kicks off with a cooking competition beginning at 7 a.m.

Teams can enter to see who makes the best barbecue chicken, chicken and sausage gumbo or jambalaya. Fees are $50 for first entry; $25 for each additional.

Opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. followed by a Veterans appreciation awards ceremony.

Musical performances will command the stage throughout the day including Marcia Ball, Jimmie Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton.

Performances by the West Feliciana High School marching band and Angola prison band are also scheduled.

Additional festival attractions include a raffle drawing, flag retirement ceremony by area Boy Scouts, arts and crafts booths, MASH 911 tent, Louisiana Women’s Veterans League display, WWII equipment display, free blood pressure screenings and a children’s activities area, which opens at noon.

Closing ceremonies are scheduled for 8:45 p.m.; the festival ends at 9 p.m.

LA Vets Fest tickets are $25 and include all events and entertainment. Parking is free.

For a complete festival lineup, to learn more about the cooking competitions, for sponsor and vendor information or for ticket locations or to purchase online, visit www.lavetsfest.org.