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Crawfish are the name of the game at the Louisiana Crawfish Festival coming up March 21-24 in Chalmette.

The spring festivals continue in St. Bernard Parish with the upcoming 45th annual Louisiana Crawfish Festival, which will kick off Thursday, March 21, on the grounds of the St. Bernard Parish Government Complex, 8200 W. Judge Perez Drive, in Chalmette.

Fest hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, March 21; 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, March 22; 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, March 23; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, March 24. Entry is free Thursday but costs $5 Friday through Sunday, except for children under 4 feet tall or those with a disability.

Festival publicity chairman Cisco Gonzales said 135 volunteers staff the event, a major fundraiser for the Knights of Columbus Rummel Chapter 5747, which shares proceeds with several charitable causes.

“Our goal is to raise the most money so we can to give to charities. We are 100 percent volunteers who put this festival on,” Gonzales said.

The group contributes to Children’s Hospital, the pediatric care programs at Ochsner Hospital, the Cancer Society of New Orleans, the Special Olympics in St. Bernard, local public, private and Catholic schools, and the three Catholic churches in St. Bernard Parish.

The family-oriented festival started in 1975 and draws people from around the country for the live entertainment, carnival rides, food vendors, arts and crafts booths and the variety of crawfish dishes, Gonzales said.

“We get over 110,000 people walking in the gate over four days. We grew this Crawfish Festival from a mom-and-pop festival into a festival that draws from all over North America,” Gonzales said. “Where do 110,000 people come from? Not just St. Bernard.

"We are one of the first spring festivals out of the gate, and we pull from everywhere. Just yesterday, I got a call from Canada because people are coming down to attend. We are no longer just a local festival.”

Gonzales said he recently received a request for directions for an Indiana woman who will attend, and a group of more than a dozen people from Syracuse, New York comes annually to volunteer, as they have since they first came to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Gonzales travels annually to Syracuse to help with a Crawfish Festival he helped the group start there so they could continue funding their charity work, which includes helping other storm victims and building mini-homes for veterans.

Live entertainment will include Rick Mocklin and Nola Rouge on Thursday; Nashville South and Category 6 on Friday; Chase Tyler Band, Faith Becnel and the Music Krewe, Voodoo Gumbo and the Chee Weez on Saturday; and 90 Degrees West, Ryan Foret & Foret Tradition, the Boogie Men and MoJEAUX on Sunday.

All-day arm bands for ridees are $25, except on Thursday, when they will be $15. The first 30 people to donate blood on Saturday and Sunday will get free ride bands and entry. For more festival details, visit louisianacrawfishfestival.com or the festival’s Facebook page.

Irish Italian Isleños Community Parade

The St. Bernard Irish Italian Isleños Community Parade & Marching Club will roll down the streets of Chalmette at noon Saturday, April 6.

The parade will have nearly 50 floats and more than 1,000 riders who will toss more than 400,000 pounds of produce including cabbage, potatoes, onions, lemons, limes, bananas, oranges and pineapples.

For information on getting a float or riding on an existing float call, text parade officials Chad O’Neil at (504) 655-7555 or Danny O’Neil at (504) 655-7553, or email them at iiiparade@att.net.

Sippin' in the Sunset

The Old Arabi Neighborhood Association will hold the first Sippin' in the Sunset concert of its seventh season from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at Aycock Barn, 409 Aycock St., in Arabi.

The event will feature live music, local food, arts, crafts, wine and beer. The next event will be Thursday, May 9. The club’s event raises money for neighborhood beautification projects and community outreach. Vendors are invited to join the lineup of food and craft offerings. Visit oldarabi.org for information.

Scholarship endowed at Nunez

Susie Showalter, of Meraux, recently established an endowed fund with the St. Bernard Kiwanis Foundation benefiting the Nunez Community College Scholarship Program in honor of her parents Rosemary and Merlyn Sentilles Sr.

A $25,000 endowment has been designated to fund the scholarship program. This will assure that a $1,000 grant will be made to Nunez Community College annually in perpetuity. These scholarships will enhance numerous work-force development initiatives, including training in career and technical fields.

Showalter’s mother was a professional seamstress, and her father was a master craftsman who constructed houses, buildings, churches and other woodworking projects. This scholarship will provide a financial stipend for students who want to enter a career in a technical field.

Nunez Chancellor Tina Tinney said the college is grateful for the scholarship.

"Her parents' legacy will carry on for years to come and impact students' lives along the way,” Tinney said.

If anyone is interested in creating a legacy by endowing a fund or receiving additional information about the St. Bernard Kiwanis Foundation, contact Danny Bourgeois at (504) 376-3701.


Karen Turni Bazile writes about people and events in St. Bernard Parish. She can be reached at parishlines@gmail.com.