The South Live Oak Cajun Arts and Crafts Festival set for Thursday, Apr. 6, through Saturday, Apr. 8, is more than just a place to leisurely shop for arts and crafts but a full blown country fair with rides, carnival food and games.

“We are delighted to be celebrating 31 years of festival fun,” said Principal Amy Savage. “This year we are excited to have our festival and a weekend of fun to celebrate our community, especially after the Great Flood our parish has endured.”

“Our students, families, and faculty have all been affected,” she continued. “The festival is bringing the ‘norm’ back into our lives after such a challenging beginning to our school year.”

“Each year the festival continues to expand and be an accomplishment for our school and community,” Savage said. “We look forward to this event every year for it affords us the opportunity for the community and schools of Watson to come together and interact.”

“This is our 31st year for the arts and crafts fair and our 14th since we added the carnival rides by Cajun Amusements,” said Angie Elkins, teacher and co-organizer of the event. “Rides include the Super Slide, the Hustle, the Bullet, the Magic Carpet, the Scrambler and many others.”

She said there are also rides for younger children, like the small train, the ever-present round-and-round cars and trucks and space walks.

“Again this year, on Thursday, we will have local food trucks serving delicious meals,” said another teacher/co-organizer, Jennifer Rodriquez.

On Thursday, the event’s rides will kick off and food trucks will begin serving food from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., while everything – the rides, the concession stands, the games and the arts and crafts booths will be running – on Friday, from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We are hoping families that are still waiting on kitchens to be repaired will enjoy this special event and some different and delicious food choices,” Elkins said.

The food selection will include Cupcake Allie, Rouge–a–Roux, Pullin’ Pork, CC’s Streetside and The Lemonade Bus.

“These food trucks have been the latest craze with their yummy menus and provide a variety of options,” Rodriguez continued. “They are donating 10 percent of their profit to our school.”

“This year we are excited to have the food trucks return to provide us a night off of cooking,” Savage said. “There will be a traditional concession stand offering hamburgers, pizza, nachos, snow balls, cotton candy, and more.”

The reasons to attend the arts and crafts fair make up a long list – face-painting, hair painting, carnival games – and of course, a long list of craft vendors selling jewelry, bows, accessories, woodwork, monogramming children’s clothing, gourmet dog treats, Scentsy products and birdhouses.

Over the three days, there will be a side variety of entertainment – spelling bees, a fashion show and “Hollywood Red Carpet Glam,” live music and dancing, Rodriquez said.

For the children, there will be a wide variety of age appropriate activities, like a Hollywood-themed fashion show for the school’s pre-K and first graders, a scavenger hunt for second graders and the TV game shows “Family Feud” for third graders and “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” for fifth graders, and for students and teachers, a kickball game, Elkins said.

Saturday will be special in regard to food. From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., “we will be selling/serving our famous BBQ lunch,” Rodriquez said. “Lunch includes a quarter of BBQ chicken, baked beans, Cole slaw and a piping hot roll.”

“This meal is prepared and served by some of our students’ fathers and our teachers’ husbands, led by Jimmy Davis, husband of our former principal, Mrs. Patty Davis,” Elkins said. “Over 2,000 lunches are sold each year. Former customers say the chicken is delicious and come back each year for these dinners.”

“There will also be a live auction on Saturday from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m.,” she continued. “This year’s items include four one-day Disney Hopper Passes, a $620 value, passes to the National WWII Museum, the Rural Life Museum, the Audubon Nature Institute, Global Wildlife, Laser Tag, Oak Alley Plantation, Ship Island, Blue Bayou and more.”

Rodriguez said the “more” includes restaurant gift cards, birthday party packages, custom made furniture, eye exams, even a year of free suntan treatments.

Saturday will also feature a fashion show from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the students came up with different themes for baskets. Each class came up with a “theme” basket. These baskets are “extreme” and include items such as high value gift cards to different stores and restaurants to help the much needed after-flood expenses. Other baskets include “Sportsman Paradise” with gift cards for hunting and fishing items; “Louisiana Lagniappe,” for Louisiana type products and items; “Doggy Treats” for dog items and pet accessories; and “Snack Shack” filled with all sorts of snacks for your pantry.

Other themed baskets – each one conceived by students – include “Crawfish Boil” with all the makings of a crawfish boil, “Sensational Spa” filled with various spa supplies, “Gardening Supplies” with garden items, “Crafty Kids,” a basket filled with markers, crayons, arts supplies for kids, and others self-explanatory, “Healthy Living,” “Beautiful Baby,” “Kitchen Gadgets,” “Camping,” “Summer Fun,” “Family Game Night” and “Housewarming,” a variety of household items that will help restock items in houses that were lost in flood.

“Our festival is a chance for teachers to interact with students, parents and the community outside of the classroom,” said Marty Henry, principal designee. “It is a great deal of work, but we always have a great turnout and everyone is enchanted.”

And the kind words are obviously not just hype from the administrators to bring a crowd to the event. The students obviously enjoy it too.

“The festival is fun! I really enjoy riding the rides because they go fast and I can ride with my friends,” said second grader Claire Barker.

“I like the festival because I have fun with my friends,” said Avery Barbay, a fourth grader. “We like riding the Bullet and other rides. They are thrilling. I also like that I get to see my mom help at the school by working a shift at the festival.”

Not only is the fair fun and a way to bring the community together, it’s good for the school.

“The festival benefits all our schools and we are vastly pleased with the results,” Savage said.

South Live Oak Elementary is located at 8400 Cecil Dr. in Watson. For more information on the arts and crafts fair, call (225) 667-9330.

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Tommy Comeaux is the Lifestyle editor at The Livingston Parish News. He can be reached via email at TommyComeaux@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, @tommycomeaux.

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