The 33rd annual Franklin Parish Catfish Festival is scheduled for April 13 in downtown Winnsboro, said Paul Price Jr., festival director.
Gates will open at 8 a.m., and festivities last until 5 p.m. Admission will be $5.
The festival boasts nearly 300 vendor booths, two musical stages and attractions for everyone, Price said.
“We have a lot of returning vendors,” Price said. “Everybody likes the fact everything is on concrete, and it works out well for them. We always sellout of vendor booths.”
The high vendor count attracts festival goers throughout the region, and the economic impact is felt throughout the parish, Price said.
“We fill up the motels and restaurants for the weekend,” Price said. “The festival really spotlights the parish and the town.”
Price said not only do businesses such as restaurants and motels benefit from the influx of visitors but also non-profit organizations.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for groups such as churches to raise money,” Price said. “The non-profits can do well.”
Planning a festival of such magnitude is a year-round chore, Price admits. With help from the festival board and town crews, Winnsboro hosts a successful Catfish Festival each year.
“The board of directors are the backbone of the festival and have been for years,” Price said. “We couldn’t do the festival without the help from the Winnsboro town crews. The cooperation of the town has been great.”
Last year numbers were down due to inclement weather, but even with the weather the festival drew over 10,000 people.
Normally, 15,000 to 20,000 people walk through the gates making the Catfish Festival the largest one-day festival in Louisiana.
“The publicity that the festival generates is always positive,” Price said. “It says a lot about our community that we are able to do something like this. It is just part of the fabric of the community.”
Jason Crabb and Jo-El Sonnier will headline the entertainment this year.
Crabb’s performance will begin at the Old Glory Stage at 12:30 p.m., and Sonnier’s performance will begin at the same location at 3:30 p.m.
Both entertainers have performed throughout the world and have won Grammies.
Additional entertainers will be Bluz Boys from Jackson, Miss. Known as “the south’s premier party band,” the group brings horns, male and female vocalists.
Returning this year to the festival are actors from Petite Princess Company out of Denham Springs. The group, dressed like princesses, will be entertaining the crowds throughout the day behind the Old Post Office Museum.
“The Petite Princesses are popular with the little girls,” Price said.
New for the festival this year is the Louisiana Goes to War exhibit at the Old Post Office Museum.
On loan from the National D-day Museum in New Orleans, this display highlights Louisiana’s contribution to the war effort. A $2 donation given at the museum helps to offset the costs associated with the exhibit.
Coming back for another year will be the antique car show. The show features over 100 cars and trucks from three states and is one of the biggest in North Louisiana.
For the children, the festival will host a zoo exhibit from Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo and a kid’s play area located by the Winnsboro Farmer’s Market. The play area features inflatables and is handled by the Baskin Baptist Church.
Along with entertainment, festival goers have their choice of food from fried catfish to chicken on a stick.
Additionally, festival t-shirts are on sale and will be offered at the event. Shirts, in adult and youth sizes are available for $20. A donation of $4 will be given to area schools for each t-shirt sale.
For more information about the t-shirts or the Catfish Festival go to www.franklinparishcatfishfestival.com.
“This is a great event for the entire family,” Price said. “We have worked hard and will be ready for crowds.”