PORT ALLEN — The City Council on Wednesday debated but reached no real answer on whether the city will again this year host a Christmas-themed Bonfest.
A majority of the council members support hosting the levee-side holiday event again in December, but are well aware trying to find the money to fund the endeavor this late in the year could prove difficult.
“I’m going to tell you this right now, from a tourism standpoint, if you cancel it this year, you can hang it up or you’ll have to do a lot of backpedaling to get it going again,” Councilman Garry Hubble told Rose Roché.
Roché, who serves as the chairwoman of the mayor’s One Port Allen Committee, urged the City Council to make a decision on whether to take another stab at organizing the event this year after reviving it in 2014.
The holiday Bonfest, which features live music, food, children’s rides and a bonfire lighting ceremony near the Mississippi levee, had been discontinued for nearly 10 years after a successful run during the 1990s.
“I’m hearing different things and I don’t want to be the one to blame if folks are looking at me and saying, ‘What happened to Bonfest?’ ” Roché told the council.
Mayor Richard Lee expressed little interest in the city putting on the event this year, preferring instead to allocate funds and solicit sponsors for Port Allen’s centennial celebration next year.
“The problem we have is that we write all the checks … but we get nothing in return,” Lee said about Bonfest.
City officials said last year’s revival cost approximately $20,000 to host.
Unfortunately, it was soured by poor attendance due to inclement weather.
“It’s good PR for the city,” Councilman Hugh “Hootie” Riviere said in support of the event. “I wouldn’t want to squash it now.”
Riviere said he’d be willing to help the administration solicit funds from local industry and encouraged Roché to meet with the hosting committee to gauge its level of interest in moving forward with the event.
The council could likely revisit the issue next week if the committee meets again before the regular meeting.
“If Port Allen is void of events, people will just go elsewhere,” Hubble said. “But if you’re going to reach out to vendors, you’re going to have to sell them on consistency.”
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