Mansura Town Council in 'festive' mood

Council hears updates on four festivals, including new Step-N-Strut Trail Ride

Mansura appears to be working hard to gain a new nickname, “Town of Festivals,” if the April 10, Town Council meeting is any indicator. The council heard information on several upcoming festivals, from the “granddaddy” Cochon de Lait to the newcomer Step-N Strut Trail Ride.

While nobody is taking the established Cochon de Lait Festival for granted, in all honesty it did not get as much attention as the trail ride presentation.

The Cochon de Lait Festival will be May 11-14 on the grounds around Town Hall and the Pavilion. The annual event is sponsored by the Mansura Chamber of Commerce.

The Town Council agreed to provide up to $2,500 for additional security for the event.

STEP-N-STRUT

Dave and Torry Lemelle spoke to the council about their decision to move the Step-N-Strut Trail Ride Festival to this area.

The Lemelles started the trail ride in 1998. It has never had a permanent home, but was held in St. Landry Parish for the past several years. The 2016 event was canceled about a month before it was scheduled to occur.

The 2015 Step-N-Strut was initially going to be held at the Zydeco Festival Park in Plaisance, but had to move to the Yambilee Building in Opelousas because of rain.

Dave Lemelle said he has contracted with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe to hold the three-day event on about 137 acres of tribal property off La. Hwy 1. Although the property is not in Mansura’s city limits, it would be considered at least shared territory with big sister Marksville. The Lemelles said they would also be addressing the Marksville City Council about their plans for the festival.

The trail ride festival will be held Nov. 3-5. There will be an admission fee.

The event will feature vendors and horse events, but Dave said the main focus of the festival is music. He said there are 13 bands set to perform during the three days. Most are Zydeco and R&B.

“We have been in St. Landry Parish for many years,” Lemelle said. “The event just continued to grow. Thanks to Paragon Casino and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, I believe we have found a permanent home.”

Torry Lemelle said the estimate for the Step-N-Strut is 30,000 people over the three-day period. Dave Lemelle said the initial festival in Avoyelles may not attract that many because it is in a new location, but he is confident it will attract at least 5,000 per day.

Dave Lemelle said the organization will “give back to the community” after the event is over.

“I can guarantee that if we do well, you will do well,” he said. “We will give back, either to the schools or to the towns.”

Step-N-Strut is known as the “Louisiana Super Ride” and is one of the largest events on the so-called “Creole trail ride” circuit that stretches from Lafayette to Houston.

The event has been held as far north as Natchez, outside of Natchitoches, but has usually been held closer to I-10.

On its website, the Step-N-Strut Festival is described as a “family-oriented event that offers enjoyment for all ages. Nowhere else will you get a taste of good Creole food, great Zydeco music and, of course, that spectacular Southern hospitality.”

The trail ride groups travel to support each other’s events, which results in hundreds of pickups, trailers, campers and RVs attending the festivals. Because the event is no longer solely a horse-and-rider event, but is actually more of a motorized caravan, it needs to be located in an area with enough hotels to accommodate festival-goers who don’t want to “rough it” in a tent or RV.

OTHER FESTIVALS

The council was also told that the Family & Friends Day -- which had been started by the late DeLas Huddleston -- will be held in his memory on the Saturday before Father’s Day.

Huddleston had started the small festival prior to being elected to the Town Council. He died within a year of taking office.

The council also heard that the monthly Mansura Market’s first event was successful.

Organizer Pat Martin, who also serves as tour guide for the town’s historic Desfosse House, said she is looking forward to the next Mansura Market event on May 6.

She asked the Town Council to consider purchasing a picnic table to place under a large tree on the Desfosse grounds and to also consider locating and acquiring historic artifacts for the house.

Desfosse House is the parish’s oldest structure still standing on its original site, being built around 1790.

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