Several hundred people played games, rode horses and enjoyed the petting zoo Sunday at the 14th annual Farm Day in Prairieville.
The event, hosted at the Petite family farm off Bluff Road, was originally slated for Saturday, but had to be rescheduled to Sunday because of rainstorms.
Longtime volunteer Jackie Lass, of Prairieville, said 40 people this year helped at the event. There are dozens more volunteers who work year-round to help Ascension Parish retired educator Becky Petite’s Farm Day.
“Becky’s devoted her entire life to children with special needs,” Lass said. “She originally brought her special needs students out to the farm, but her vision later changed to have the event focus on inclusion for all children.
“A lot of families come to the event who may have one child with special needs, while the sibling does not,” Lass said. “Now all members of the family spend time together.”
Animal handlers, horse attendants, jambalaya cooks, game hosts and many others gave their time at the event.
Kristin Caronna, of St. Amant, brought her 4-year-old daughter, Carly, to the event.
“We came out today because it’s a fun event and a beautiful day,” Kristin Caronna said. “Today was our first time attending. It’s great that so many in the community come out here for this.”
Petite’s farm and house were flooded in 2016. Petite had to completely restock equipment and games with the help of the local community for Farm Day, Lass said.
Lass said residents like Tony and Kelly Austin, helped Petite rebuild her arsenal by hand painting signs for the games like ring and beanbag tosses.
Lisa LeBouef, of Dutchtown, who has volunteered at Farm Day for the past eight years, said the event has grown bigger each year because more Ascension Parish groups are becoming involved.
Supporters of the event include St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Cub Scouts, 4-H and other school clubs. This year actors from the Center Stage for Performing Arts dressed as superheroes and Disney princesses to take pictures with attendees.
Rescheduling the event because of Saturday’s storms was a challenge for volunteers, LeBouef said. Social media was a tool used to reschedule the event from Saturday to Sunday.
“We were able to get the word out and we had the food volunteers on standby,” said LeBoeuf, who knows Petite through mission work at St. John the Evangelist, “It’s inspirational just being around Becky. She gives to others and in turn people give to others in the community.”
Lass’ daughter, Marissa, an LSU graduate student who dressed as Rapunzel, said she has volunteered at Farm Day for the past eight years.
“Today is a beautiful opportunity for our community to come together,” Marissa Lass said. “The children who have special needs can come here and feel just like any other child.”