Lori’s Best of the Bayou Update-12/3/12

Greetings, readers!  Or rather, Season’s Greetings!  I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season so far.  This truly is a festive time of year!  Trees abound for trimming, homes and cities are adorned with colorful lights, and the aroma of pumpkin, pine and cinnamon fill the air.  All this Christmas cheer also means 2012 is coming to a close, and this will be my last festival report for the year.

I previously announced that year two of Best of the Bayou will once again take place the last weekend in September, on the 28th and 29th of 2013 in Downtown Houma.   Two main stages will again flank the festival grounds; however, minor changes to their locations are in the works.  Next year, festival-goers can also expect to enjoy acoustic entertainment on the Courthouse steps.  As I first reported in last month’s FOCUS, folks can also expect to see an even placement of food and arts-and-crafts booths in between the two stages on Main Street.  The current mission for BOB is to improve on its freshman mistakes, and by doing so, logistical tweaks are priority.

Another goal for BOB 2013 (or how about BOB’s very own New Year resolution?) is to better engage and increase involvement and communication with local residents and downtown merchants.  That goal will be accomplished in part by volunteers who make up the new festival leadership, which includes an executive board and several planning committees and sub-committees.

The planning committees include Logistics, Special Events, Entertainment, Communications, Sponsorship, Volunteer, Food and Arts/Crafts.  Chairpersons have been assigned to each committee, and they are as follows: Pat Gordon-Logistics, Stephanie Hebert-Special Events, Billy Foster and Dave Norman-Entertainment (Music), Tana Millet-Communications, JJ Buquet-Sponsorship, Paul Labat-Volunteer, Ricky Murphy and M.J. Plaisance-Food, Katie Portier and Cal McKey, Arts-and-Crafts.

The coming festival will be an important one—perhaps more important than the first, as seed money will not be available to the festival beyond 2013.  It must sustain itself to survive and make a long-lasting economic impact on the Bayou Region.  The festival, which will remain free, can’t survive without the support of the community-be it as a volunteer, sponsor, vendor, or reveler, and we hope to gain your support in 2013!  Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or YouTube, and check out our website at www.bestofthebayou.org.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!  Have a safe and happy holiday season!

(This article is available inside the FOCUS, the official publication of the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, via The Courier, the first Monday of every month.)

Lori’s Best of the Bayou Update-11/5/12

I hope everyone is enjoying Fall and all the wonderful festivals the season brings in South Louisiana! I’ll begin this month’s report with good news – the news that Best of the Bayou plans to once again kick off the fall festival season on the bayou! The 2nd Annual BOB Fest will take place on Saturday, September 28 and Sunday, September 29, 2013.  Please mark your calendars for the last weekend in September!

The fest will remain in downtown Houma, yet plans are already underway to enhance the festival experience. Festival organizers, such as our Logistics Committee, in conjunction with local merchants, parish leaders and music producers, are eagerly taking on the task of coordinating changes to the locations of food and arts & craft tents, as well as the all-important stages. Their goal is to have an even flow of food and activities while people stroll from one stage to another. Festival-goers can also anticipate a variety of “street performers” to help make the stroll even more interesting.

If you wish to be part of this big celebration in September, you can contact me at the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce office at 985-876-5600 or via email at info@bestofthebayou.org. You may also personally contact Festival Chairman, Billy Foster or Vice-Chair, Paul Labat, for more information.

I’m proud to say that as of this update, Best of the Bayou has reached 1000 “Likes” on Facebook (or as my father likes to say, “Spacebook”). Hopefully, most of you are on Facebook by now and have liked us, too!  1000 likes is quite an accomplishment since Best of the Bayou only started its online presence in May. In a time where online, social media and real-time updates are major sources of news (even if it is about your mom n’ dem), BOB heavily relied on Facebook and other social media to quickly spread festival news this past year and will continue to do so in the future. You can also find us on Twitter, WordPress, YouTube, and of course, you can always visit our website, www.bestofthebayou.org.

We hope that you can volunteer, as we strive to make Houma’s newest festival bigger and better! If you cannot help by volunteering your time, you can always help by being a Friend of the Festival. Donations start at $50. Best of the Bayou is also starting to seek corporate sponsorships for 2013 in order to help sustain the festival, which is free to the public. All donations or sponsorships are tax-deductible and go directly to the Best of the Bayou Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization.

Lori’s Best of the Bayou Update-10/15/2012

Hello readers, and Happy October!  I must say this is one of my favorite months of the year, perhaps even more now that Year One of Best of the Bayou is done!  (Insert Smiley Face here.)  I’m sure you all know by now that our inaugural weekend was inundated with rain and high wind, at times.  Unfortunately, as we know all too well in South Louisiana, weather is unpredictable and uncontrollable.  I speak for the Chamber–staff and executive board, when I say we worked as hard as we could under the circumstances and are most grateful to our sponsors, vendors, volunteers—all of “Team Festival,” for being weather warriors!  We are all also extremely thankful to everyone who attended BOB Fest in spite of the weather.  Whether you came out for the music, be it to listen to your favorite bands or check out new ones, eat some grub from the dozen-plus food vendors, or to simply hang out with friends and family, most of the remarks and feedback we’ve received from revelers has been positive.  We want nothing more than for BOB to be an enjoyable and entertaining experience year after year!

On that note, festival-planning is a full-time job, and now preparations begin for our sophomore event in 2013.  As of press time, I cannot tell you to “save the date.”  The first phase of 2013 planning is a comprehensive review of 2012, which includes dates of the event.  We will, of course, announce the dates when they are confirmed, whether or not they change.

Our analysis of this year’s event includes a survey of the food vendors, as well as arts-and–crafters, in order to try to improve conditions for them.  (Does anyone have a magic weather wand?)  Part of this process also includes meetings with key stakeholders and parish officials to gain a detailed perspective on logistics, marketing and public relations, and all other important festival matters.  I’m not ashamed to say that I’m not perfect, nor is everyone that jumped aboard the BOB Fest “crazy train” this year, but we certainly gave it our all amidst an overwhelming timeline.  Moving forward, we certainly plan to rectify what is in our power to change.  If you’d like to share your thoughts on BOB Fest 2012, you can email us at info@bestofthebayou.org, post to our Facebook wall, even send us a tweet.

As previously announced on our website and Facebook, Andrè Brunet of Peoples Drug Store in Downtown Houma is the proud recipient of the original festival canvas, painted by Susan Shaffer of Schriever.  The painting was auctioned via silent auction during the festival.  If you didn’t get the chance to scoop up your poster of the painting at the festival, you can call the Chamber office at 985-876-5600 to reserve a copy.  Posters are $15 and will be available until they are sold out.  Tee-shirts in both men and women’s sizes are also still available for $10.  Sales from festival merchandise go directly to Best of the Bayou, a 501c3 non-profit foundation.

If you would like to help Best of the Bayou 2013 by being a corporate donor or Friend of the Festival, or rather donate your time as a committee member or general volunteer, please let us know.  We would love your help!  Until next time, thanks again to all of you who made this first festival year possible!

Press Release: Best of the Bayou Set for This Weekend-9/26/12

Houma, LA – The first-ever Best of the Bayou Festival presented by Rouses Markets is set for this Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, in Historic Downtown Houma. The festival, a free-entry event, will occupy Main Street and surrounding areas between Lafayette and Barrow Streets for a quarter-mile and will feature the “best” in music, food, arts and southern culture. Best of the Bayou is the first two-day festival in downtown since the departure of Downtown on the Bayou almost ten years ago.

The festival’s impressive lineup of 25 bands hail from New Orleans, Lafayette, “the bayou” and west into Texas-many of whom have earned national acclaim. Headliners include Marc Broussard, GIVERS, Ruthie Foster and Cowboy Mouth. All bands will perform from two stages, called Boudin Bayou and Gulf Groove, which will face each other at opposing ends of the festival grounds. Musical genres range from traditional Cajun and blues to rock and funk, as well as a fusion of musical influences from many of the bands.

More than a dozen food booths will surround the Courthouse Square. Within the Premier Catering festival food court festival-goers will enjoy a variety of Cajun specialties, like charbroiled oysters, shrimp boulettes, crawfish Monica, bacon-wrapped shrimp, fried alligator, and traditional festival fare like burgers and hot dogs, plus finger-licking barbeque, like rib racks and pulled pork. Some vendors will also supply sweets such as ice cream, bread pudding, and tea cakes. The festival will serve drinks including water and sodas and adult beverages like domestic and specialty beers and wine. Other beverages being served include P.J.’s iced coffee, frozen lemonade, Kasasa-ritas from Coastal Commerce Bank and daiquiris from Premier Catering. Beverage sales will benefit the festival and help to sustain it annually.

The Best of the Bayou Festival Foundation was created to promote tourism and economic development as part of Terrebonne Parish’s recovery from the 2010 BP oil spill.

BOB Fest will also feature original art and handmade crafts for sale inside the Gulf Coast Marketplace Festival Market near the food court. Art lovers will have the opportunity to stroll through approximately 30 arts-and-crafts booths of handmade jewelry, paintings, clothing, pottery, furniture, other home décor and more.  The marketplace will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday,

The Terrebonne Fine Arts Guild, located inside the festival on Belanger Street, will also be open throughout the weekend.  From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, the gallery will showcase various works from local artists, which includes the festival art submissions.  In June, BOB held a two-week art contest, whereby the winning entry became the official poster of the festival. The winning painting, chosen by an independent volunteer panel, was created by Susan Shaffer of Schreiver, LA. Her painting will also be on display inside the gallery and will be auctioned via silent auction. The winner will be announced Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Shaffer will be signing purchased posters from 1-4 p.m. Sunday inside the Information and Welcome Tent on Main Street. Posters will sell for $15, along with festival shirts for $10.  Proceeds from merchandise sales also benefit the festival.

Other highlights of the festival include the Bayouland Kids Korner presented by Chevron and the Budweiser Sports Bar.  The Kids Korner will offer free hands-on games and crafts for the little festival-goers, as well as a rock wall (minimal fee to climb). The Kids Korner will keep the same hours as the marketplace nearby. Inside the festival sports bar, located at the Mardi Gras Bingo Hall on Main Street, sports enthusiasts can check out the weekend’s big games, like college and professional football, on a giant movie screen.  Voodoo BBQ & Grill, the official food sponsor of the sports bar, will be serving smoked brisket, their famous corn pudding, red beans and rice and sausage, and more!  Beverages will also be sold inside the sports bar.

For more details on the festival, such as an interactive festival map, complete band lineup and list of food vendors, directions to Houma and discounted hotel rates, people are encouraged to visit the festival’s website at www.bestofthebayou.org.

Due to limited parking downtown, parking will be available off-site throughout the weekend at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center about a mile from the festival grounds. A free shuttle service, provided by the Terrebonne Council on Aging, will pick up festival-goers at Lot A of the Civic Center-the bayou-side lot, and drop them off at the intersection of School and Church Streets near the Courthouse.

Main Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from Lafayette to Barrow Streets beginning Friday, Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. due to festival preparations and will remain closed throughout the weekend due to BOB Fest. Houma Police will start bagging parking meters and clearing affected areas at 4 p.m. Friday.

Best of the Bayou is presented by Rouses Markets and sponsored by Chevron, Pepsi, Terminix, Stephanie Hebert-Allstate Insurance, Buquet Distributing, Voodoo BBQ & Grill, Progressive Waste Solutions, BP, McDonald’s, Cox Cable, Courier/Comet, LA Office of Tourism and Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government.

Lori’s Best of the Bayou Update-9/10/12

(As seen in September edition of FOCUS, a monthly publication of the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce.)

As I begin to write my final pre-festival update, I seriously reflect on the months leading up to now—these last few important weeks prior to Best of the Bayou.  Where has the time gone?!  A cliché, yes; however, so true!  When I officially began working on this grand new festival several months ago, I knew there were going to be challenges.  Well, Father Time has proved to be one of the biggest obstacles.  And now that we have survived (and were mostly spared by) Hurricane Isaac, we hope Mother Nature is kind and pray for quiet skies in the coming weeks!

I hope by now everyone or almost everyone has seen or at least heard about our impressive schedule of bands, which includes headliners GIVERS, Marc Broussard, Cowboy Mouth, and Ruthie Foster.  As previously released, the full lineup includes 24 bands from the Bayou, Acadiana and New Orleans regions, as well as Texas. Miss Foster, an award-winning blues singer/songwriter and Grammy nominee, and The Gourds, an offbeat country group, come by way of the Austin area.  The two stages, called Boudin Bayou and Gulf Groove, will each host about a dozen bands over the course of two days and will face each other at opposing ends of the festival grounds – about a quarter of a mile apart.  Musical genres range from traditional Cajun and blues to rock and funk, as well as a fusion of musical influences from many of the bands.  We hope that you are as excited as we are about the AWESOME lineup we have in store!

While I must say the bands are enticing enough, the festival would not be complete without our fantastic food offerings.  We are proud to say that among our dozen or so vendors, folks will enjoy a variety of Cajun specialties, like charbroiled oysters, shrimp po-boys, jambalaya and gumbo, grits and grillades, and traditional festival fare like burgers, hot dogs, nachos, even barbeque, like rib racks and pulled pork.  Some vendors will also supply just what you need to satisfy that sweet tooth and cool you off on what we expect to be a hot early fall day in South Louisiana.  Hungry yet?!

As a brief reminder, the festival site will start at the Gulf Groove Stage near Grinage Street.  The food court will surround the Courthouse Square on Church and Goode Streets, while the festival marketplace will be situated in paved lots near Belanger and Roussell Streets.  The Boudin Bayou Stage will flank the festival on the opposite end near Barrow Street.  Also, another important note to remember: Main Street will shut down to through-traffic beginning Friday, Sept. 28th at 6pm for set-up and festival preparations.  Downtown Live After Five is also cancelled that evening due to the necessary preparations.

More details about the festival will be posted on our website and Facebook and through regional media leading up to the fest at the end of this month!  If you are interested in volunteering at the festival or have general questions about the event, feel free to contact me at info@bestofthebayou.org.  Please help us spread the word about Houma’s newest festival!  And of course, we hope to see you there on September 29th and 30th!

Press Release: Festival Schedule of Bands-8/24/12


GIVERS, Cowboy Mouth, Marc Broussard, Ruthie Foster to Headline Inaugural Festival

Houma, LA- Best of the Bayou presented by Rouse’s Markets is unveiling its complete lineup and schedule of performances at the free festival set for Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30 in Downtown Houma.  In all, 24 acts will occupy two stages for the two-day event, stretching a quarter of a mile in the heart of historic downtown.

Carencro’s Marc Broussard and Texas blues singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster will headline the schedule on Saturday, while Cowboy Mouth and GIVERS, both from Louisiana, are set to close out the fest on Sunday. The full lineup mostly features artists of the Bayou, Acadiana and New Orleans Regions, such as brass funk-sters Bonerama and The Upstarts, and seasoned “Y’at Rock” group Creole String Beans, all of whom play on Saturday.

Louisiana French band Isle Dernière will officially kick off the weekend’s entertainment at 11 a.m. from the Boudin Bayou Stage at Barrow and Main Streets. They lead a lineup of seven other bands that includes locals Beau Porche and The Backstabbers, The Risen and Uprising, as well as brothers Joe and David Stark, who make up the nationally-signed rock duo, Baby Bee. Baby Bee will be followed by their pal and touring partner Broussard; his soulful voice will serenade crowds as the sun sets on the first day of the festival at 8:45 p.m.

The second Gulf Groove Stage, north-side on Main near Grinage Street, opens at noon Saturday with folk-country singer Clay Parker of Thibodaux. Parker will be followed by local favorites Hurricane Levee Band and Voodoo Bayou. The award-winning Miss Foster and her band will then take the stage at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday’s schedule begins at 11:30 a.m., with Houma’s St. Lucy Gospel Choir and Nonc Nu and Da’ Wild Matous on opposing stages. Nonc Nu, a zydeco-country-rock-infused band from Thibodaux, will be followed by more bayou boys–Mr. Don Rich and Bandit on the Gulf Groove Stage. New Orleans rhythm-and-blues act Al “Lil Fats” Jackson will follow Bandit at 4 p.m. Fellow New Orleanians and national hit-makers Cowboy Mouth will close out that stage at 5:45pm. Through 15 years and almost as many albums, Cowboy Mouth has entertained more than 9 million people in their “legendary” live shows, according to the band’s official website.

Rounding out the fest lineup on the Boudin Bayou Stage are rising star and Houma native, blues guitarist Josh Garrett, and the top two winners of the Center Stage Singing Competition-a local version of the wildly popular TV show “American Idol.” Festival-goers will also be treated to the traditional jazz-swing sounds of Louisiana quintet Red Stick Ramblers and the quirky swamp-jangle of Austin’s The Gourds.

The inaugural Best of the Bayou will officially come to a close with the help of upbeat indie rockers GIVERS, hailing from Lafayette and quickly making a name for themselves on the national music scene. GIVERS will headline the Boudin Bayou Stage at 6:45 p.m. Their most recent claim to fame was the cover of their song “Up Up Up” by the cast of another hit show, “Glee,” in April. Since the debut of their first full length album “In Light” in 2011, GIVERS have been touring the globe and will soon join chart-topper Goyte, who is currently touring the U.S. and Canada.

Houma attorney and music columnist David Norman, a member of the festival’s entertainment committee, said of the lineup, “I am impressed with its strength and diversity, to put it mildly. Local bands can only be helped by the exposure this lineup of better-known acts, such as GIVERS, The Gourds, Ruthie Foster and others–will produce.” In keeping with the true mission of the festival, he added, “Outside folks appreciating our indigenous culture equals increased tourism which accomplishes our mission.”

Festival hours are 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday. The festival will also feature food from some of the area’s top chefs and eateries, as well as a festival marketplace showcasing local art and handmade crafts. More details about the festival will be released in the coming weeks.

The festival schedule of bands is available here now and will also be accessible on the festival’s website at www.bestofthebayou.org. The schedule will also be printed inside the official festival guide in advance of and at the event. The festival reserves the right to adjust the schedule as necessary prior to and during the event.

Lori’s Best of the Bayou Update-8/6/12

(As seen in FOCUS, the monthly newsletter of the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce and distributed via The Houma Courier)

It’s that time again – the time of year where the sun is setting on those lazy summer days and many folks are preparing for the hustle and bustle of “back-to-school.” It’s been anything but a ‘lazy summer’ for Best of the Bayou, and with the festival only two short months away, there is so much to report!

First and foremost, I am extremely happy to announce that the inaugural festival will be presented with the help of one of the bayou’s very best — Rouses Markets.  Rouses is confirmed as the festival’s presenting sponsor. In the fifty-plus years since the opening of their first grocery store in Houma, Rouses has expanded to nearly 40 stores and 5,400 team members. And they’ve become more than just a household name here in Louisiana – they have gained national recognition for their success, and been named one of the top independent grocers in the country. Rouses is the perfect title partner, and we look forward to working with them to help put Houma and the entire bayou region on the map of must-see destinations in Louisiana.

I’d like to take a moment to also give praise to a few other sponsors we’ve secured thus far—starting with Pepsi, who has signed on to be our official soft drink of the festival. An array of Pepsi-brand beverages will be on hand at the festival. Thanks to Buquet Distributing and Voodoo BBQ & Grill in Houma, the festival will include a special area for our beloved sports fanatics! A festival “sports bar,” to be located inside the Mardi Gras Bingo Hall on Main Street, will provide an indoor retreat for folks to catch the big weekend games i.e. LSU and Saints. Adult beverages and Voodoo BBQ will be available for sale inside the hall. Kids are certainly welcome there, but they too will have a spot to call their own. Chevron has partnered with us to present the BayouLand Kids Korner, which will be set near the festival marketplace. The details are not yet finalized.

As we’ve mentioned before, our “Friends of the Festival” are also important to us! This program allows for individuals and small businesses to support the festival for as little as $50. Donors receive individual perks at all levels up to $1000. EVERY donation counts as we strive to not only bring this new and exciting and FREE event to our region, but keep it around for years to come.

Moving on, we’ve opened the application process for artists and craftspeople wanting to showcase and sell their work at the festival. The planned arts-walk or marketplace, of approximately 150 booths, will be nestled in the heart of the fest, around Belanger and Roussell Streets near what’s known as the Ledet Building. Additional booths will be located by Whitney Bank and possibly outward to Main Street, too, depending on the number of qualified applicants to the festival. Only original art and handmade crafts will be allowed for sale. Rental includes a 10×10 space (vendors must provide their own tents) and vendors will collect 100% of their sales. Complete details on how to apply can be found on the festival’s website at bestofthebayou.org, as well as through the Gulf Coast Marketplace/Options for Independence in Houma at thegulfcoastmarketplace.org. GCM is a virtual festival featuring an array of works by regional artists and craftsmen. Due to this already-established network of vendors, Best of the Bayou has partnered with these agencies to help process applications and manage all marketplace vendors on-site.

The festival is still looking for food vendors as well.  The initial deadline of July 31 to rent space has been extended to August 15. As a reminder, tents will be provided at no extra cost, along with limited use of electricity. Vendors may sell up to four items and will collect 100% of their sales. We ask that anyone interested in reserving a booth, be it a restaurant, professional caterer or non-profit organization, please visit the festival’s website or call the Houma Chamber office at 985-876-5600 as soon as possible.

Since my last bulletin, we’ve unveiled the winning artwork chosen to be the official poster of the inaugural festival.  The artwork, an untitled painting, was created by Susan Shaffer of Schriever and depicts a guitar-man on Main Street, blended with familiar images of downtown.  Shaffer’s painting was one of eleven entries in the contest, which was open to all bayou region artists, ages 16 and up.  The poster will be available for sale on site at the festival, with all proceeds going to the Best of the Bayou Foundation.  The remaining entries will be on display during the festival inside the Terrebonne Fine Arts Guild downtown.

In a final bit of good news, all bands are booked for the 2012 festival.  In all, 24 bands will play the fess–that’s non-stop for two days on two stages! The lineup merges national, regional and local bands in genres of swamp pop, rock, blues, funk and more! The entire lineup and complete stage(s) schedule will be released soon. In the meantime, please check out the festival’s website and Facebook for more info on the festival bands.