Now in its 11th year, the Avoyelles Arts & Music Festival (AAMF) returns Tuesday, July 4th, for another jam-packed day of family fun with thousands of visitors descending on Marksville for the fourth to enjoy a parade, the festival with live music, arts, crafts, and food vendors, a BCA-sanctioned BBQ Cook-Off, Car, Truck, & Jeep Show, Old Fashioned Bake-Off, Kidz Zone with lots of rides, games, and activities, and fun festival contests such as hot dog eating, watermelon, and cherry pie eating contests. A dazzling fireworks display presented by the Marksville Fire Department at Paragon concludes the daylong celebration. The best thing about the Avoyelles Arts & Music Festival (AAMF)? It’s absolutely free and open to the public thanks to the generosity of AAMF’s many sponsors and community partners!
Festivities kick off with Louisiana’s longest running Fourth of July Parade at 10:00am. The parade is presented by the Marksville Chamber of Commerce and there is no fee to enter. Lineup will begin at 8:00am at the intersection of Washington and Ogden Streets in downtown Marksville. For more information or to enter, please call (318) 253-8599 or (318) 240-3495.
Festival grounds, located on the property surrounding Broken Wheel Brewery in Marksville on Tunica Drive between Main and Washington Streets, will open at 10:00am so festivalgoers can watch the parade. The grounds will be transformed into a 4th of July village full of all of the sights and sounds of our nation’s birthday celebration! There’s plenty to see and do at AAMF! From yummy festival food crafted by vendors all over the state, to a beer garden to help beat the summer heat, to plenty of arts and crafts vendors and interactive games and rides for the kids, there’s a little something for everyone. We will also have our Queens representing AAMF and welcoming festival royalty from across the state for a special tribute to our own II Samuel, “Mr. Welcome to Louisiana”, who recently passed unexpectedly. Sam was known across Louisiana for celebrating our state’s great festival culture and his song “Welcome to Louisiana” will undoubtedly be his legacy to be enjoyed at festivals for many years to come.
AAMF is known for bringing only the best music Louisiana has to offer and this year does not disappoint! Grammy nominated Louisiana’s LeRoux makes their AAMF debut performing their brand of southern blues and rock, including their smash hits “New Orleans Ladies” and “Take A Ride on a Riverboat”. LeRoux’s eponymous first album was a musical gumbo that blended various instruments and music arrangements into a spicy, mouth-watering southern rock sound. In fact, their Southern anthem “New Orleans Ladies”, voted Song of the Century by Gambit Magazine, simmered with the laid-back feel of the “Big Easy,” evoking images of Bourbon Street and the bayou. Over the years, LeRoux has enjoyed performing with many of classic rocks’ greatest bands including The Allman Brothers, Journey, Kansas, Heart, The Doobie Brothers, Charlie Daniels, Foreigner, ZZ Top and many more. LeRoux was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame as the Hall’s 50th inductee.
Music lovers will be excited for the return of festival favorite Amanda Shaw! This Louisiana-raised singer, songwriter, and musician has carved out her place in Cajun culture, and has become one of the most recognizable brands in Louisiana music. From national appearances on the Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, the Today Show’s Roker-thon, and the Rosie O’Donnell Show, to a once-in-a-lifetime performances with Cyndi Lauper, Shaw’s magnetic presence helped her to build an extraordinary following of fans and supporters. She has also collaborated with Grammy award-winning musicians, such as Chubby Carrier to give her fans a superior way to experience Louisiana-rooted, world-class music. Joined by her band “The Cute Guys”, this fierce fiddle player combines the sound of Louisiana with a pop sensibility for a fun and energetic show.
Zydeco’s favorite party boy Travis Matte & The Kingpins makes his third AAMF appearance. The Kinpins got a unique start, opting to first develop an album before ever hitting the stage for a live performance. That album was 2004’s “Dis Ain’tcha Momma’s Zodico” which featured the song “Bar be que and drink a few” and received solid air play throughout Louisiana. Over the years, the Kingpins have continued to release a regular stream of albums while performing high energy shows, including the chance to entertain rock legend Robert Plant, of Led Zeppelin fame. Despite their deep Zydeco roots, the Kingpins don’t fit neatly into any particular genre, developing an unmistakable, unique “Kingpin Original Sound”!
Avoyelles’ favorites One Trick Pony brings a hit packed set of all the songs you know and love from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today. Rooted in their south Louisiana origins, the band, formed in 2009, has been entertaining crowds with their high energy shows ever since. Rounding out this year’s fiery lineup is none other than Leon Chavis & The Zydeco Flames. Widely recognized as one of the hottest up and coming Zydeco performers, Chavis has only grown in popularity on the zydeco and trail ride circuit. Leon’s easy smile and high energy performance call back to his deep Louisiana musical roots as a trumpet player in “The Human Jukebox” Southern University Marching Band. He founded the Zydeco Flames with his father, Joseph “Chopper” Chavis, while still in college. It’s sure to be a great close to a very busy day on the AAMF stage; you don’t want to miss it!
The Car, Truck & Jeep Show has grown in popularity over the years. Sponsored by Louisiana Tire and Lift, Daigrepont Metal Recycling, and First Guaranty Bank, the show takes place across from festival grounds at First Guaranty Bank’s Tunica Drive location between 9:00am and 2:00pm. All proceeds benefiting the Shriners Hospital who are dedicated to treating children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information, please call Greg Daigrepont at (318) 305-0105.
A BCA Sanctioned BBQ Cook-Off returns to the festival for the first time in years and is sure to be a smokin’ hot contest! Pitmasters will compete in three categories—spare ribs, half chicken, and beef brisket. All entries must be cooked on-site. The preparation and completion of all entries in competition must be within the confines of the cook-off site during the day of the competition. The cook-off area will open at noon on Monday, July 3rd for set-up and to get the smoke rolling. $4,000 in prize money will be up for grabs along with bragging rights and a custom Grand Champion trophy! Entry fee is $150 and is due by Friday, June 30th. For more information or to enter, please call Melissa Goudeau at (443) 336-4046.
Calling all bakers! The AAMF Bake-Off will see some of the area’s best home bakers square off in two divisions—Junior Baker (ages 8-17) and Adult Baker (ages 18+) inside the Broken Wheel Brewery dining area. Bakers will compete in three categories—layer cakes (no sheet, pound, or cupcakes); bars (no cookies); and pies (no cream pies). Registration begins at 8:45am sharp, with judging to follow from 9:00am to noon. Grand champion ribbons and cash prizes will be awarded on the AAMF Main Stage at 12:30pm. Treat your sweet tooth as all entries will serve as donations to AAMF for the post competition bake sale! Bakers wanting to enter the Old Fashioned Bake-Off can call Connie Gonzales at (318) 717-0821 or the Avoyelles Arts Council office at (318) 264-1826.
Are you a young artist? Do you love Avoyelles Parish? Show us what you love about Avoyelles in this year’s AAMF Youth Art Competition. The competition is open to all Avoyelles Parish youth, ages 6 months to 17 years, competing in four age-specific categories. Entries can be in any medium (charcoal, paint, pencil, collage, etc.) and must be 11” x 14” canvas or canvas board only. First, second, and third place ribbons will be awarded in each age group. The Best in Show winner, as determined by Children’s Art Tent visitor voting, will receive a cash prize! One entry per contestant. All entries must be submitted by 4:30pm on Friday, June 30th at Gallery on the Square, located at 122 East Mark Street in Marksville. For full rules and more information, call the Avoyelles Arts Council at (318) 264-1826 or Gwen Lacombe at (909) 560-4581.
For festivalgoers wanting to get the party started a little early, head over to Broken Wheel Brewery Monday night, July 3rd, for “Red, White & Brew”, the annual kickoff party featuring singer/songwriters from all over Central Louisiana and Broken Wheel Brewery’s award winning craft beer! The party begins at 6:00pm on the night before the festival. You’ll be smelling the BBQ in the air and passing a good time getting ready for the best Fourth of July ever!
The Avoyelles Arts & Music Festival is proud to recognize and give thanks to all of this year’s sponsors! Standing Ovation sponsors: Brian Caubaurreaux and Associates Injury Attorneys and Tunica-Biloxi Industries; and Encore sponsors: The City of Marksville, State Representative Daryl Deshotel, and Paragon Casino Resort. Special thanks to The Knoll Law Firm, Broken Wheel Brewery and staff, and the Knoll family for their generosity and the use of their property for AAMF festival grounds! We all greatly appreciate their continued support. See the complete list of this year’s sponsors that keep our festival free and open to the public on the AAMF ad on the back cover of the print or e-edition of the June issue and remember these businesses when shopping for goods and services.
For general information, simply visit our website at www.avoyellesarts.com, or call Allison Ravare-Augustine at (318) 264-9392 or Van Roy at (318) 240-3495.