CROWLEY, L.a. — From funnel cakes to fresh-squeezed lemonade, the 84th Annual Rice Festival is kicking off this weekend in Crowley.
After a year of no festivities, local businesses lining the main drag eagerly await new customers.
Bethany Gates is the storefront manager at Cramer Equipment and Supply Company, LLC. She told KATC that a lot of the businesses downtown struggled during the pandemic.
"With the pandemic we just, no one was able to come in," Gates said. "It was hard for us to get out there and we also supply to different places, not just the public."
Ben Doughty, manager at Rice City Designs, echoed this.
"We were super slow over COVID," Doughty said. "But it's about, it's almost 2,000 shirts that we're going to do over this festival, so it's huge for us."
Many of these businesses are run by locals who have called Crowley home all their lives, but some go out of their way to make the trip to the International Rice Festival for different reasons.
John Andre owns Andre's Cajun Cracklins out of Baton Rouge and he said that he makes the trip in the name of tradition, love for the family business, and for his father.
"He died three years ago," Andre said. "I probably just want to keep his tradition up because he's the one that started it."
But as some traditions are brought back each year, others change as time goes on.
"You know, you wanna come, but then you don't wanna come," Andre said. "Because you know the older generation is gone, but I mean, you have that everywhere, so you just stay positive and do what's right and believe in the Lord — he'll take care of you."
Shanna Monk is the festival coordinator. She said that folks shouldn't be afraid to come out and enjoy the festivities this year now that the event has returned.
"People are so excited to see a sense of normalcy back in their lives and we had a goal we were going forward and we made it," Monk said. "And I think everyone is going to be so thankful that they can come and feel what Louisiana is all about — this is what Louisiana, this is what you know about Louisiana and we're excited that it's coming back."
For more information about the International Rice Festival that is being held this weekend from Oct. 14-17, you can visit the official website here.
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