Newsmaker: Jambalaya Festival President Wally Taillon

Charlotte Guedry
Wally Tallion is the President of the Jambalaya Festival Association. He is thrilled with the additional activities at this year’s festival, and invites everyone to come on down to check out both the food and entertainment.

How did you become interested in your chosen career?

 I always enjoyed cooking for a crowd. I guess I received that passion from my mother, who always had a big pot of food cooking in the kitchen for whoever came to eat. So, in 1979 I entered the Jambalaya Festival cooking contest, and I had the pleasure of winning the contest in 1993. After winning I wanted to do more for the festival, so I made my commitment to the organization. I have served on the Board and been President and have had the opportunity to cook for many during these years.

What do you enjoy most about your position, and what do you enjoy least?

 As President and cook, I like being able to help the community. I like being able to donate our Jambalaya and cooking for the many charity and civic events. I enjoy least of all not having enough time or money raised from our festival to accomplish everything I would like to do for our community. There are just so many needs in our community and those needs are very important to me, but I know I cannot meet them.

What does a typical day consist of?

Phone  calls come in daily from other festivals asking us for help in judging their cooking contest or asking to borrow some of the JFA’s equipment so they can have a successful festival. Sometimes there are calls from other festivals or events wanting advice or information to help plan their event. Then there are days all throughout the year that I am organizing and preparing next year’s Jambalaya Festival. This is a job all year round. I help cook for many of out charities and organizations throughout the year as well.

Is there a specific achievement that you are the most proud of?

Yes. I talked with Johnny Berthelot, who is now our past mayor, about having the festival brought back to the streets like it first started. With his help we brought our festival  back to the streets on Irma Blvd. in 1999. Also, this year, 2011, the JFA has bought a small piece of  land from the City of Gonzales, to build our first home for the Jambalaya Festival Association since  it was organized in 1967.

 Any advice for someone wishing to follow in your footsteps?

You must be passionate and be committed to what you are doing. You will have to sacrifice a lot of personal time but that is  what is called “ giving back your community.”