LAFAYETTE, La. — Festival International de Louisiane is one of the biggest economic drivers for the City of Lafayette, but with the Festival being virtual last year due to the pandemic, many downtown businesses suffered.
This year, Executive Director FIL, Scott Feehan, plans to go the extra mile to make sure those businesses benefit one way or another.
Anita Begnaud, the CEO for the Lafayette Downtown Development District says that businesses along Jefferson Street rely heavily on the activity that the Festival brings in for not just revenue, but new business opportunities as well.
"A lot of our professional services businesses downtown take advantage of the opportunity when Festival is it's most alive to bring in clients and prospective talent that they want to hire, to come and enjoy the festival to see Lafayette in its best light," said Begnaud. "We are talking to businesses about how to utilize things happening in and around the virtual festival, but there is really no replacement for seeing downtown come alive the way it does during that five day festival."
While this year's Festival would not be the same as it would be with thousands of people, Feehan says they are going to do what they can to help those businesses that will be affected.
"The one thing we're doing is FEASTival," says Feehan. "We've invited a lot of downtown restaurants and some of our old vendors to come up with a festival inspired dish."
Feehan is also considering the local artists that will be affected as well.
"We're going to have a virtual display on our website," said Feehan. "We're getting everything together right now so hopefully we can send some people to those art vendors and businesses as well."
Feehan and his Festival crew are partnering with LUS Fiber this year to create a high definition channel for the Festival, so patrons can watch from their televisions rather than on Facebook.
Begnaud says she is excited to be working with the festival to bring the community together this year.
"I think there's a lot of opportunity for the people to come and support downtown businesses throughout the month of April and during the virtual festival," says Begnaud. "But we are really looking forward to an in-person festival, hopefully, in 2022."
Feehan tells us that the festival lineup is expected to be announced in mid March.
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