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Downtown Development Authority hopes to keep Festival International in Lafayette

Posted at 9:30 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 23:28:44-05

Plans are already in the works for next year's Festival International, and organizers are coming up with some creative ways to have the festival amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

One idea is to expand the festival to Youngsville, with a portion of the event being held at the Youngsville Sports Complex.

Mayor Ken Ritter said when festival organizers reached out to the city about the idea, the answer was a resounding 'yes.'

"Obviously, we said 'yes,'" Ritter commented. "We recognize the importance of Festival and what it means to our community."

"We share those concerns [about having a safe festival] and know that we can work together to make sure that we can overcome the challenges that may present themselves," added Ritter.

But what impact would a move out of Downtown Lafayette have on businesses there? For many businesses, Festival International brings in a large portion of revenue for the year, and that revenue is crucial right now during the pandemic.

Organizers say businesses are returning to the downtown area, and having Festival in its traditional spot could be a big boost for them.

"It started as an economic driver to bring more business, bring more commerce, bring more visitors to downtown Lafayette. We are experiencing some great momentum in downtown Lafayette right now. We've had nearly 20 new business open in 2020," explained Anita Begnaud, CEO of Lafayette's Downtown Development Authority. "We are starting to see residents move into the district. More and more people living down here. And so this is the perfect time to capitalize on all the great momentum happening in downtown Lafayette through Festival International."

Begnaud said her organization has been speaking with the organizers of Festival International to find a solution that works both for the festival and for the various businesses in Downtown Lafayette, including looking at different sites in the downtown and downtown-adjacent area and exploring different music venues.

She explained that she and other proponents of the festival remaining in Lafayette are creating a campaign based on the revenue and commerce the festival generates for the city. Anyone interested in telling a story of a festival experience or story can send it to info@downtownlafayette.org.

"We believe it's possible at some scale in 2021. We don't know what it looks like, but we're committed to finding a solution. We're confident we can find the solution for both parties," Begnaud added. "We believe that Festival belongs in downtown Lafayette and it should stay in its home."

READ MORE: Festival organizers working out plans for next year

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