Music, art, crafts, food and more will be featured during the 40th Annual MayFest Arts & Crafts Festival, set for Friday and Saturday, May 1st and 2nd in the Downtown Leesville Historic District. Sponsored by the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission, the festival has been a favorite among Vernon Parish residents and visitors alike for decades, offering free musical entertainment and f un for grownups and children of all ages.
MayFest opens at 4:00pm on Friday, May 1st on Third Street at the courthouse. Venders will be immediately available, while music will begin at 5:00pm. Friday’s headliner will be Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys at 9:00pm.
On Saturday, the festivities start bright and early, with the Lion’s Pancake Breakfast at 7:00am, followed by the Armadillo Stampede at 8:00am. The opening ceremonies as well as the U.S. Army Color Guard is set for 9:00am. Vendors also open at 8:00am, with the music beginning at 10:10amm. A variety of bands will take the stage throughout the day, building up to the Kentucky Headhunters at 9:00pm.
The Leesville Lions Club annual pancake breakfast includes a short stack (6) of pancakes with your choice of bacon or sausage, with milk or juice. MayFest goers can purchase tickets for their meal from any Lions Club member, or at MayFest. Breakfast is served from 7:00am until the pancakes run out at the Historic Courthouse in Downtown Leesville. The Lions boast at least 200 years of flapjack flipping experience and guarantee their pancakes to be the best served within a half-mile of the courthouse. The club began selling pancakes more than 40 years ago as a way of raising money for its premiere service project, the Louisiana Lions Camp for Crippled Children.
The camp, located in Anacoco, just five miles north of Leesville, provides unique summer camp opportunities for children throughout the state who, because of their medical conditions, would not otherwise be able to participate in summer camp. Leesville Lions have been supporting the camp for more than 50 years. So, look for the tents and picnic tables, and there you’ll find the purple and gold clad Lions flipping jacks.
What goes better with pancakes than great music? Music will be offered on two stages this year. The stage in front of the courthouse will offer a variety of genres, from rock and blues to jazz and zydeco. It all kicks off Friday evening, while the Gospel Stage will feature gospel music on Saturday.
Music begins on the main stage at 5:00pm on Friday, May 1st, with the opening acts of Beau Shyne, Cody Cooke and Henry Raggans and the Sidemen; the evening concludes with Amanda Shaw at 9:00pm. Amanda’s roots lie in Louisiana, mixing her classically trained violin playing with Cajun dancehall melodies and vocals that drop sweet cherry pie and southern girl grit. Amanda counts Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Chrissie Hynde and Bonnie Raitt as her primary influences; as they each broke new ground through crossover success by integrating the sound of their roots with the mainstream. Amanda has spent her youth implementing the same mission as her role models, becoming one of the leading Cajun fiddlers today. Her deep talent led to becoming one of the youngest headliners at music festivals throughout the world.
Music on Saturday begins after the opening ceremonies at 9:00am, and includes Josh Hyde, Amy Nichol & Zydeco Soul, the Old Man Band, Marcus Davis and Jerad Bridges, and more! The Mulligan Brothers of Mobile, Alabama will bring their own style to Leesville on Saturday. The lyrics set the songs apart, but it is the rhythm of Greg DeLuca, the string melodies of Gram Rea, lead singer Ross Newell’s honest, sincere voice, and Ben Leininger’s suitcase bass that grab attention as their music crosses borders between folk rock, Americana and country.
Louisiana’s very own Mia Borders will take the stage at 7:15pm. With her endlessly southful voice, richly emotional songwriting and undeniable style, Mia embodies the spirit of her hometown, New Orleans. She is heralded both locally and nationally as one of the Big Easy’s best talents. The Times-Picayune described her as “confident and cool”, while USA Today characterized Borders and her music as “deeply funky”.
The Pink Flamingos will take the stage following Mia, just before the Kentucky Headhunters assume the headline spot at 9:00pm. The Kentucky Headhunters are an American rock band. The band has released seven studio albums, two compilations and twenty singles, including, “Oh Lonesome Me”, “Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine”, “Dumas Walker”, and “Rock n’ Roll Angel”. The group has earned a Grammy, Academy of Country Music Award and a Country Music Association Award. In addition, the band has earned a double platinum certification for shipping two million album copies in the U.S.
Like the music, art plays a big role in MayFest, through both exhibits and featured artists. This year’s exhibit at Gallery One Ellleven on Third Street is a group exhibit by members of the gallery. The exhibit will be on display through the weekend at 111 Third Street in downtown Leesville. The show will highlight a wide variety of mediums, including photography, acrylic painting, oil canvases, watercolors, charcoals and more. Members of the gallery include painters, potters, photographers, mixed media artists and more.
Festival goers will also have the opportunity to browse the wares of arts & crafts vendors who have come from near and far. There will be a wide variety from which to choose, featuring handmade quilts, crocheted items and wood crafts, wax hand impressions, homemade soaps and lotions, Pampered Chef cookware, original paintings, jewelry, handbags and more.
Not to be left out, there will be plenty of children’s activities located near the Vernon Parish Police Jury Government Complex Building. The Chalk-A-Block activity will be located in front, and will provide hours of entertainment for budding artists. Adults and children alike can create their own masterpieces with chalk on the street. Other activities will also be available.
Once you’ve burned off your pancakes with all the dancing, shopping and fun, food vendors will be on hand to fill you right back up. Homemade festival favorites like funnel cakes, BBQ plates, fried catfish plates, corndogs, chicken on a stick and more will all be available.