‘Save the Cattle Festival’
You know the old saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”
For 2020, the Louisiana Cattle Festival is gone.
Organizers made the tough decision to cancel this year’s event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those same organizers have every intention of bringing the Cattle Festival back in ‘21.
And that starts with a fundraising effort, aptly named Save the Cattle Festival.
“We’re doing this fundraiser to keep the festival going,” Cattle Festival President Francis Plaisance said. “It’s been a festival for 72 years.”
Sponsored by the Louisiana Cattle Festival Association and the Rotary Club of Abbeville, the jambalaya fundraiser will occur on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at the Red Barn on Rodeo Road. The meals can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $7, and are available for purchase at the Red Barn, from 8 a.m. to noon on Monday through Friday, at Maxi Mart or Abbeville Electric Supply.
The reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the festival, well beyond the fact that the event had to be canceled for this year. Plaisance said numerous events scheduled in the past few months, events that would have brought in funds for the festival, had to be canceled. Among the events were two circuses, a trail ride, a fair, and weddings that would have been held at the Red Barn.
“We lost all of that when COVID-19 hit us,” Plaisance said. “As a result of all of that, we have lost revenues of well over $6,000.”
This would have been the third year the Cattle Festival would have taken place at the Red Barn location, after moving from its long-time home in downtown Abbeville. Plaisance said the money had been invested in the Red Barn property, such as to improve parking.
“The first two years after the move had been all right,” Plaisance said. “This was going to be our best year.
“Now, we have no money coming in, and we have expenses.”
Plaisance said the organization had cut back on as many expenses as possible. Gulf Coast Bank worked with the festival.
“Gulf Coast Bank was kind enough to change our note from a monthly to annually,” Plaisance said. “That helped us.”
Cattle Festival organizers are receiving help with this fundraiser. Members of the Rotary Club of Abbeville will help prepare the meals for the fundraiser.
“The Rotary Club stepped up to the plate to help,” Plaisance said. “They are a wonderful organization.”
Plaisance said he is not only optimistic about this fundraiser; he is excited.
“We have hundreds of tickets already sold,” Plaisance said. “We are looking to continue to sell more.”
As the festival has been an event for the community, Plaisance said it is inspiring to see the community’s response, whether that is from the Rotary Club, Gulf Coast Bank or people purchasing tickets.
“That is the most rewarding thing,” Plaisance said. “It has been discouraging this year. We went down to about $300 in the bank. Where do you go from there? We didn’t want to see the festival fold, because it has been so important for the community.
“The public is stepping up.”
This effort will help keep the festival going, rather than gone for good. Plaisance said he has heard from so many people this year who are disappointed that it couldn’t take place this year.
“You never really know what people think about it,” Plaisance said. “You don’t realize how many people want it until something like this happens. I keep hearing from people who can’t wait for it to be back. We hope that everyone looks forward to 2021.
“If we can get this virus contained, we plan to have a really big show for people in 2021.”