June 27, 2021 Jean Lafitte, La.
After a break of 15 years due to hurricanes and other things that diverted the attention of town leaders, the town of Jean Lafitte Seafood Festival returned in 2021. The 2 1/2 day event was a huge success, partially because it was the first festival with live music that has taken place since COVID 19 shut down everything in 2020. South Louisianians MUST have their festivals and live music, preferable both at the same time, so they were ready to come out in droves.
The Jean Lafitte Seafood Festival was the first large live music event in the New Orleans area since the COVID 19 lockdowns.
The town is interested in doing a smaller "Save the Coast" festival next April centered on their nearby Wetlands Trace Boardwalk and its blooming irises. The mayor invited a number of groups in Louisiana's marsh restoration effort to hold information booths open at the seafood festival this year as a test run of the idea. Each group was given a spot under a large canopy near the entrance to the boardwalk to share information on their projects and to let everyone know how they can help out by getting involved in. SeaGrant, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Restore or Retreat, Jefferson parish, Restore the Mississippi River Delta, Healthy Gulf and the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) signed up and each help open a booth.
Local entertainer and celebrity, Rock'n Dopsie, of the Zydeco Twisters, helped LICI open their booth up at the start of the first full day of the festival.
In addition to information about the group and their projects, LICI's booth displays also highlighted the town's Wetlands Trace Boardwalk because it is the location of an important iris restoration project for them. The boardwalk is one mile long and winds through a cypress tree swamp. It was built in 2002 by four volunteers that were led by Joe Baucum, now deceased, who was a local naturalist and civic booster.
The poster is shown that was used in the LICI booth to explain what they do.
Joe Baucum's widow, Cindy Baucum, is a friend of LICI and has helped out at iris planting events at the boardwalk that her husband helped build. She also has plans to donate the Louisiana irises growing in a ditch on her property. Joe protected these irises from the parish road crews that regularly sprayed a herbicide on the rest of the ditches that are alongside the road, which runs for miles before it passes through their land.
Cindy Baucum found some old photographs in her records of Joe and his crew building the boardwalk. She supplied LICI with digital copies so that they could make one poster for their booth and one to be put out onto the boardwalk during the festival, which was done.
LICI's poster about the building of the Wetlands Trace Boardwalk in 2002 by volunteers Joe Baucum and three of his friends. One of the posters was put up near where people lined up to board the swamp tour boat at the picnic area midway on the boardwalk.
A number of LICI volunteers helped out holding the booth open Saturday and Sunday during the festival. They handed out brochures about LICI and its partners, signed up future volunteers and told the story of Joe Baucum and his friends building the boardwalk to people that visited the booth.
LICI's booth is shown at the Jean Lafitte Seafood Festival.
Although the music was the center of attention during the festival, the boardwalk ended up getting hundreds of visitors. There were "Wine and Stroll" stations set up along the boardwalk where a glass of wine could be purchased as you took in the sights. A local swamp tour company used the picnic area mid-way through the boardwalk as a base for short swamp tours that they gave to the festival goers using their boat.
The swamp tour boat that was used to give tours during the festival.
As Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner, Jr. said in a Facebook posting a few days after the festival, "This weekend our town took center stage. The return of the Jean Lafitte Seafood Festival was a success beyond our expectations. The vendors, chefs, local and national artists all enjoyed rave reviews from Lafitte’s record setting crowd of festival goers."