Boucherie Festival has something for everyone

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Ryan Foret and Foret Tradition perform on Friday night at the Boucherie Festival.

The 37th Annual Boucherie Festival was held at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center last weekend, October 12, 13 and 14. Friday night may have drawn the biggest crowd with musical performances by Ryan Foret and Foret Tradition and later on, Don Rich.

The festival has grown much since its beginning in 1981. It features several big attractions for children, a pageant, a custom car show, continuous live music, and even a maritime rope-throwing competition. But the true reason for the festival, the Cracklin Cooking Contest, will always be the main draw.

The Sorrento Lion's Club puts on the festival each year. President Ray Prado said that over a ton of cracklin was produced by this year's cooks, and all of it was packaged and sold to festival attendees.

This year's Cracklin Champion was the team of Kobe Thacker and helper Joey Cornett. Twenty teams competed, according to participant Carter Williams. Williams was a helper for Zip Mayer's team, a former champ who also made it to the finals with six other teams.

"We made it to the finals with Cracklin," Williams said. "We cooked 60 pounds-a-day, and we cooked for three days. If you won before, you can cook in the Champ of Champs. All the past champions, the best-of-the-best cook on Friday. Most people only only get to cook Saturday and if they make it to Sunday."

The cracklin cooking competition is an all day affair. Judging is unanimous and goes off of things like size, look, and color. The Boucherie Festival includes a jambalaya cook-off as well. This year's champion was the team of Tyler Bourque and helper Jake Avrill. The cooks stationed their big pots underneath a hangar at Lamar Dixon. A big screen TV playing the LSU football game sat at one far end on Saturday.

"Twenty-five hundred bags of cracklin were packaged," Prado said. "We had a good turnout of cooks, and people were excited."

This year's new maritime throwing competition drew participants from all over. They competed by throwing heavy rope from the "boat" to the "dock" while people danced and bands played behind them.

"That was awesome," Prado said. "They brought a good little crowd for them, and only a few of them were local. They had people from West Virginia, Florida--they came from all over the U.S. to come compete in that. This is our second year partnering with Kenny Brown. He loves it because he can tell participants they're going to get some good cajun cooking when they come compete."

But although the Boucherie was successful, Prado said in the future he would like to see the festival move back inside the city limits of Sorrento. He spoke about opening a discussion with the Ascension Parish School Board to try to get the civic center back in operation.

The building has not been in use except for storage since the flood. If not the actual building, maybe they will get the Boucherie Festival moved to the grounds outside.

Lastly, the festival theme this year was to honor those in service. The official poster featured a cartoon pig in camouflage saluting the armed forces.