Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival

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53rd annual Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival poster

The Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival is called the "Coldest" festival in Louisiana,  takes place in the heart of winter. The Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival was chosen as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society in 1989, 2012 and 2013.[1] This award is a coveted honor among 12 member states.

Industries honored[edit]

The festival honors nine native industries, all vital to Cameron Parish, usually on a rotating basis.[2]

In conjunction with each festival, a queen’s pageant is held; an individual is named King Fur to represent the industry being honored; a cookbook is published which contains photographs and winners from the previous festival; a parade is held, and the festival hosts a delegation from its sister festival, the National Outdoor Show from Cambridge MD.[3]

Festival contests include oyster shucking, muskrat and nutria skinning, skeet shooting, trap setting, and duck and goose calling, and a Gumbo Cook-off. A booth located on the fairgrounds showcases the history of the festival. The festival also features carnival rides, exhibits, live music and dancing, and regional food.

History[edit]

The event originated in 1955 when U.S. Congressman Theo Ashton Thompson arranged the first fur and wildlife competition.[4]

The congressman of Cambridge, Maryland challenged Representative Thompson to send a local resident to compete in the National Fur Skinning Contest. Fifty-two-year-old Leon Hebert, a 25 year trapper, from Cameron was sent to the National Outdoor Show where he placed fifth in the nation that year.[5]

A small group of people met during the summer of 1955 in the Cameron Courthouse Building, to make plans for the first festival.  Whitney Stine was chairman.   Representatives of community organizations included: Whitney Stine - Cameron Lion's Club ((Lions Clubs International)), Edward Swindell, Sr. - Cameron Lion's Club, Hadley Fontenot - County Agent, Alvin Dyson - State Representative, Ray Burleigh - Cameron Lion's Club, Joe O'Donnell -Cameron Lion's Club, Mrs. Iva Free - Home Demonstration Agent, Roberta Rogers - Home Demonstration Club, Geneva Griffith - Home Demonstration Club and Sam Tarlton - Lake Charles Television and Radio Station. [5]

From this group of organizers came the Louisiana Fur & Wildlife Festival. The first festival was funded by the Cameron Parish Police Jury and private donations. This was to become known as "ONE OF THE OLDEST AND COLDEST FESTIVALS IN LOUISIANA" In 1962[6] and 1973 the festival was postponed for one week due to a severe cold wave.

Jennings B. Jones, Jr. served as master of ceremonies for the program on Dec 2 and 3, 1955. It was presided over by Cameron county agent Hadley Fontenot, first festival president.[7]

Seventeen year old Vida Bess Brown, from Abbeville, was crowned "Miss Outdoor of Louisiana" by Ted O'Neal, Chief of the Fur and Bottoms Division of the Louisiana Wildlife Commission. She was presented with a nutria stole, a bouquet of roses by the Cameron Service Garage, and an expense paid trip to the National Outdoors Show in Cambridge, Maryland. The National Outdoor Show became a "Sister Festival" with the Cameron Festival. The two exchanged fur skinners and festival queens each year and the tradition continues today.[5]

Of 34 contestants, Meredith Giles was named the first "Cameron Parish Queen". Eleven year old J. A. Miller captured the Louisiana Junior Duck Calling contest and in years to come he become the World Champion Fur Skinner, following in the footsteps of his father Fletcher, and teaching his daughter Selika the art with her becoming the Women's Champion.  His wife, Mary Jane Miller, held the Local and National Women's title many times.

The second annual festival was held on January 11–12, 1957 and $5000.00 in cash and trips were awarded along with fur coats to the Fur Queen contestants. Nancy Precht was crowned Fur Queen by Louisiana House of Representative, Alvin Dyson.  She represented the festival at the Mardi Gras Ball in Washington, D.C. where she was presented to Vice-President and Mrs. Nixon.  This tradition continues to the present time.

Floats were usually constructed in warehouses of the local menhaden plants, mud houses, garages, or anywhere workers could get out of the cold. Roland "Bolo" Trosclair was in charge of the parade at that time.

A raccoon was chosen as mascot for the festival. A contest of the area school children determined that Sha-oui would be the name of the mascot.

In Dec 1956, festival authorities invite major fur production parishes to attend; St Charles, St Bernard, St John, St. Mary, Jefferson, Plaquemines, Terrebonne, Lafourche, Iberia, Vermilion and Cameron.[8]

In 1969 the first King Fur is selected. King Fur I, Jack T. Styron represents the Menhaden (pogy fish) industry for the 13th annual Fur and Wildlife Festival.[9]

In 1972 the first Fur Festival Cookbook is published and continues today.[10]

Cameron Elementary School was the annual staging ground for the Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival pageants until Hurricane Rita. After the 2005 storm, all that remain of the auditorium were the steel girders. The festival was canceled in 2006 due to the devastation of Hurricane Rita.

Activities for the 2007 50th annual Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival kicked off with pageants at the Lake Charles Civic Center’s Rosa Hart Theater. The festival activities returned to the grounds of the old Cameron Elementary School in Cameron.[11]

In 2009 Hurricane Ike wreaked so much havoc, the January 2009 festival was canceled. The Fur queen invited several of her fellow festival queens to see her Parish anyway, both in its devastation and its natural splendor.[12]

In the early months of 2010, the Cameron Parish 4-H Junior Leaders complete a video documentary on the history of the Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival. The Youth Leaders interviewed past festival participants, contestants and queens and compiled the stories into a documentary.[13] Cameron Communications is a Festival $5,000 corporate sponsor now and in the next several years.[14]

The 54th annual Fur and Wildlife Festival held January 13–14, 2012 in downtown Cameron LA featured dog trials, back for the first time since Hurricane Rita.

Year Festival President Fur (Festival) King / Industry Honored Fur (Festival) Queen / Residence Miss Cameron Parish
1955 Dec Hadley Fontenot [15] Vida Bess Brown / Abbeville Meredith Giles
1957 Jan Hadley Fontenot Nancy Precht / Sweetlake [16]
1958 Hadley Fontenot
1959 Hadley Fontenot Peggy Joyce Seago / New Iberia [17] Marilyn Billings [18]
1960 Hadley Fontenot June Robicheaux / Franklin [19] Barbara Lane Dugas [20]
1961 Hadley Fontenot Myrna Viator / Delcambre [21] Debbie Ann LaBove [20]
1962 Hadley Fontenot Pat O'Neil / Abbeville [21] Beverly Sue Rutherford [22]
1963 Hadley Fontenot Susan Bienvenu / Houma [23] Pamela Riggs [24]
1964 Hadley Fontenot Gail Catherine Broussard / New Iberia [25] Judy Hebert [26]
1965 Hadley Fontenot Susan Arcement / Abbeville [27] Elaine Broussard [28]
1966 Hadley Fontenot [29] Fletcher Miller Schere Saia / Houma [30] Susan Kornegay [31]
1967 Hadley Fontenot [32] Linda Trappey / New Iberia [33] Charlene LaBove
1968 Jennings B. Jones, Jr.[34] Nancy Lea Jordan / Buras [35] Diane Warren [36]
1969 Jennings B. Jones, Jr. Jack T. Styron / Menhaden [37] Jane Weilbaecher / Destrehan [38] Sherry Cheramie
1970 Jennings B. Jones, Jr.[39] Alvin Dyson / Fur Doylene Lasiter / Franklin [40] Cherie Griffith [39]
1971 Jennings B. Jones, Jr.[41] Mark Richard / Cattle Cherie Kay Griffith / Oak Grove [42] Janet Gail Riggs [43]
1972 Jennings B. Jones, Jr.[44] John Paul Crain / Oil Janet Gail Riggs / Hackberry[44] Peggy Ann Kelley [45]
1973 Jennings B. Jones, Jr. Tom Steed / Shrimp [46] Kathy Carlos / St. Charles [47] Debbie Precht[46]
1974 Jennings B. Jones, Jr.[48] Charles W. Hebert / Rice [49] Ann Elizabeth Guillot / LaPlace [50] Susan Baccigalopi [49]
1975 Jennings B. Jones, Jr. Jerry Jones / Hunting [51] Alexis Alexander / Jefferson [51] Susan Woodgett [51]
1976 Jennings B. Jones, Jr. J. Burton Daigle / [52] Vickie Nunez [52]
1977 Jennings B. Jones, Jr. Ted Joanen / Alligator [53] Jenny Bird / St Charles [54] Nancy Claire Nunez [55]
1978 Jennings B. Jones, Jr. Patrick Doody / Menhadden [56] Sharon Laney / St. Charles [57] Joni Gray [56]
1979 Jennings B. Jones, Jr.[58] Fletcher Miller / Fur [58] Diane McCall [58] Joni Grey / Hackberry [59]
1980 Braxton Blake Conway LeBleu / Cattle [60] Cindy Rice / LaPlace [61] Laura Hicks [60]
1981 Braxton Blake [62] Hadley A Fontenot & J.B. Jones [63] Donna Harmon / Lake Charles [62] Yvonne Marie Savoie [63]
1982 J. Braxton Blake [64] Charles “Buster” Rogers / Oil [64] Yvonne Savoie / Sweetlake [65] April Leger [64]
1983 Braxton Blake Roland Trosclair Jr. / Shrimp [66] Andria Marie Bergeron / Houma [67] Wendy Wigley [66]
1984 Braxton Blake Charles H. Precht Sr. / Rice [68] Elizabeth Primm / Houma [68] Selika Miller [69]
1985 Braxton Blake Lyle “Butch” Crain / Hunting and Wildlife [70] Selika Miller / Cameron [71] Stacy Mudd [70]
1986 Braxton Blake [72] Benny Welch / Alligator [73] Kelly Foster / Calcasieu [73] Shontel Blanchard [72]
1987 Braxton Blake [74] Edward Wallace Swindell Jr / Menhaden [74] Lisa Roberts / [75] Dena Dawn Rutherford [74]
1988 Hayes "Pete" Picou Tom Mudd / [75] Karen Engeron / Terrebonne [75] Kathryn Leigh Wilkerson [75]
1989 Hayes "Pete" Picou, Jr [76] J.B. Meaux / Cattle [77] Michele Irene Morris / Raceland [78] Rhonda Jennifer Perry [77]
1990 Hayes "Pete"Picou [79] Joseph Braxton Blake / Oil [80] Linda Rousse / Terrebonne [79] Dayna Elaine Willis [80]
1991 Hayes "Pete" Picou [81] Phillip Trosclair / Shrimp [81] Connie Cure / Violet [82] Rene Rachelle LaLande [81]
1992 Hayes "Pete"Picou [83] Claude Eagleson / Rice [84] Kelley Marie Becnell / Reserve [81] Brandi Brice Soileau [84]
1993 Hayes "Pete"Picou [85] Watkins Miller / Wildlife [85] Belinda “Denise” Clemons / Folsom [86] Tracie Marie Trahan [85]
1994 Hayes "Pete"Picou Larry McNeese / Alligator [87] Erika Schwarz / Madisonville [88] Adrienne Larissa Picou [87]
1995 Hayes "Pete" Picou [89] Billy Doxey / Oyster [90] Adrienne Picou / Grand Chenier [91] Jennifer Leigh Broadus [90]
1996 Pete Picou [92] Robert James Schwak / Menhaden [92] Marie Elise DesOrmeaux / Vermillion [93] Adenise Michelle Trosclair [92]
1997 Pete Picou Darryl “Fats” Dupont / Fur [94] Alison Hotard / Iberia [94] Melissa Ann Trahan [94]
1998 Pete Picou [95] Charlie Theriot / Cattle [96] Summer Leigh Parker / Lake Arthur [96] Heather Sturlese [96]
1999 Clifton Hebert [95] Norman McCall / Oil [96] Heather Sturlese / Grand Chenier [97] Amanda Broussard [95]
2000 Clifton Hebert [98] Don Bailey / Shrimp [98] Millie Manning Harris / Nine Mile Point [98] Courtney Nicole Conner [98]
2001 Clifton Hebert [99] Mervin “Possum” Chesson / Rice [99] Courtney Tatman / Destrehan [99] Shannon Suratt [99]
2002 Clifton Hebert Enos Joseph “Buster” Sturlese / Hunting [100] Shannon Hinton / St. John the Baptist [100] Marylyn Alexis LeJeune [100]
2003 Charles Pettiford / Alligator [101] Tiffany Wing / Calcasieu Trista Semien [102]
2004 John LeBlanc [103] Jimmie Stutes / Oyster [104] Trista Zanora Semien / Creole [105] Ashley Picou [105]
2005 Johnny LeBlanc [102] James “JA”Miller [106] Cadi Brook Pedigo / Acadia [106] Ashley Kelly [106]
2006 Festival canceled due to the

devastation of Hurricane Rita.

2007 Johnny LeBlanc [107] Rolland Primeaux [108] Kayla Lavergne [102] Haley Willis [102]
2008 / Fur [109] Lauren Naquin [102] Kami Savoie [102]
2009 Festival canceled due to the

devastation of Hurricane Ike.

2010 Billy Doland / Cattle [110] Jada O'Blanc / Lake Charles [110] Mikalee Mooney [110]
2011 Lee Harrison / Oil [111] Sarah Deanna Tinsler / Sulphur
2012 Omar Smith / Shrimp [112] Mikalee Mooney [112] Kathryn Reina [112]
2013 Penelope Richard Clifford Broussard / Farming [113] Kathryn Reina [112] Juliann Lannin [112]
2014 Penelope Richard Huey Mhire / Hunting [114] Carly Chaumont [115] Katie Little [116]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "tourism". Southeast Tourism. Retrieved 07 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Griffith, Geneva (January 10, 2003). "Find cool treats at the Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival". Lake Charles American Press. 
  3. ^ "The world is your oyster at Fur and Wildlife Festival". Lake Charles American Press. 2010-01-08. 
  4. ^ Price, Crystal. "Fur and wildlife culture celebrated in Cameron". KPLCTV. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
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  6. ^ "Fur Festival Postponed due to cold wave". Lake Charles American Press. January 11, 1962. 
  7. ^ Lake Charles American Press. November 20, 1955. p. Page 23. 
  8. ^ American Press. December 30, 1956. p. Page 17. 
  9. ^ Guillory, Sam (January 11, 1969). "King Fur I crowned at Fur, Wildlife Festival". Lake Charles American Press. 
  10. ^ Dupuis, Georgia (January 8, 1972). "Recipes shared by Cameron residents". Lake Charles American Press. 
  11. ^ "Fur and Wildlife Festival gears up with pageants". Lake Charles American Press. January 5, 2007. 
  12. ^ Valdes, David. "Greenwood – Rhinestone Highway: Celebrating America's Festivals, Fairs & Pageants". David Valdes. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  13. ^ Berthold, Alexis. "Fur and Wildlife Festival". Cameron Communications. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  14. ^ Broussard, Kristi. "Fur and Wildlife Festival". Cameron Communications. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  15. ^ Lake Charles American Press. November 20, 1955. 
  16. ^ "Muskrat-Skinning Champion Named". Lake Charles American Press. January 13, 1957. 
  17. ^ "New Iberia Girl is Fur Festival Queen". Lake Charles American Press. January 18, 1959. 
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  19. ^ "June Robicheaux named Queen of Fur and Wildlife Festival". Lake Charles American Press. January 17, 1960. 
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  21. ^ a b Buddy, Threatt (January 20, 1962). "Vermillion Parish Rules Over Fur Festival". Lake Charles American Press. 
  22. ^ Red, Kohnke (January 20, 1962). "Cameron Picks Queen for Wildlife Festival". Lake Charles American Press. 
  23. ^ Buddy, Threatt (January 13, 1963). "Houma Girl 1963 Queen". Lake Charles American Press. 
  24. ^ Red, Kohnke (January 12, 1963). "Hackberry Girl Named Cameron Parish Queen". Lake Charles American Press. 
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  26. ^ Red, Kohnke (November 30, 1963). "Judy Hebert is Cameron Queen". Lake Charles American Press. 
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