Rain forces changes, but didn’t stop Cochon de Lait Festival

One little piggy -- and a few hundred of his kinfolk -- went to Mansura. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for several thousand visitors to Avoyelles’ annual “pork party,” they didn’t go home crying “wee, wee, wee.”

Mansura became a fairgrounds May 9-12 as the annual Cochon de Lait Festival celebrated “all things pork” with various eating and drinking contests, good music, a carnival and -- of course -- the serving of the delicious delicacy that gives the festival its name.

Each year thousands of pounds of pork are cooked in the traditional manner -- in front of an open fire.

The mix of the strong aroma of roasting pork, music, children’s laughter and carnival rides is a combination that keeps visitors from throughout the parish, statewide, across the nation and even internationally coming back to Mansura year after year.

RAIN AFFECTS FESTIVAL

The roast pork wasn’t the only thing that was “moist” at this year’s festival. Heavy rains prior to the festival forced some changes, but the show went on.

“Despite the weather, the festival was able to deliver all of the scheduled events -- including all of our live music Friday and Saturday, parade, carnival, food booths, arts & crafts, Children’s Pig Pen and all of the contests except one, the greasy pig contest.” Festival Committee member Rebecca Lemoine said.

The greasy pig contest, a crowd favorite, was cancelled as a safety precaution.

“Pigs love mud, but it can be dangerous for humans,” Lemoine said.

“As usual, nothing can stop us from having a good time,” Festival Director Nicky Bordelon added.

BOUDIN KING

Chris Gonzales of Bangor, Maine made the long trip to Mansura to win his seventh consecutive Boudin Eating Contest and was crowed the Boudin King.

There were a few intentional wrinkles and some unintended ones in this year’s edition of the Cochon de Lait Festival.

The open-air roasted cochon de lait was served Friday and Saturday instead of just on Sunday.

“The festival will continue to work to highlight the tradition of cooking the pigs in front of a large fire and the showmanship of preparing and serving the cochon de lait,” Lemoine said.

Mansura Chamber President Meyhan Chenevert said the many sponsors of the event help to “make the festival happen year in and year out. Without the sponsors and the flexibility and positive attitude of all of our volunteers, we could not have pulled off the festival this year.”

The weather was a factor in this year’s festival.

Heavy rains prior to the festival forced the carnival to move from a back area to the main festival grounds, making for a bit tighter fit.

As a result, some of the large rides could not be erected. However, the carnival was able to set up three of its large rides near the Desfossé House and several children’s rides and midway games on the tennis courts.

“The rain dictated what we had to do to make it work this year.” Bordelon said.  “We have to think of our visitors and guests first.”

“The Mansura Chamber of Commerce wants to send out a heartfelt thank you to everyone who came to Mansura for the 45th annual Cochon de Lait festival,” Lemoine said.

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