Music, art, crafts, food and more will be featured during the Annual MayFest Arts & Crafts Festival, set for May 2nd and 3rd 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 fun for grownups and children of all ages.
MayFest opens at 4:00pm on Friday, May 2nd on Third Street at the Courthouse. Vendors will be immediately available, while music will begin at 5:00pm. Friday’s headliner will be Frank Foster 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 the U.S. Army Color Guard is set for 9:00am. Vendors open at 8:00am, while music begins at 10:10am. A variety of bands will take the stage throughout the day, building up to Mia Borders at 9:00pm.
On Saturday, the Leesville Lions Club will host its annual pancake breakfast at 7:00am. Get a short stack of pancakes with your choice of bacon or sausage and milk or juice. MayFest goers can purchase tickets 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 a summer camp. Be sure to look for the tents and picnic tables and there you’ll find the purple and old clad Lions flipping jacks.
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 Cajun music and more beginning on Friday evening, while the Gospel Stage will feature gospel music on Saturday.
Music begins on the main stage at 5:00pm on Friday, May 2nd with the opening acts of David Locklear and Beau Shyne, leading up to Frank Foster at 9:00pm. Frank Foster, a Louisiana country boy from Cypress Bottom, says he has been influenced by the music of Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr., Willie, Waylon, and the rest of the outlaw country boys.
Music on Saturday begins at after the opening ceremonies at 9:00am, and will include Lohrs, Amy Nichol & Zydeco Soul, the Old Man Band, Marcus Davis, Henry Reggans and the Louisiana Sidemen, as well as others. The Mulligan Brothers of Mobile, Alabama will bring their own style to Leesville with their original music. 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.
The Pink Flamingos will follow Henry Reggans and the Louisiana Sidemen, before the stage gives way to Louisiana’s very own Mia Borders at 9:00pm. With her endlessly soulful voice, richly emotional songwriting, and undeniable style, Mia Borders embodies the spirit of her hometown, New Orleans. She is heralded locally and nationally as one of New Orleans’ best talents. The Times-Picayune described her as “confident and cool”, while USA Today characterized both Borders and her music as “deeply funky”.
Art always 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 the 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, etc. Members of the gallery include painters, potters, photographers, mixed media artists, and others.
Children’s activities will be located near the Vernon Parish Police Jury Government Complex building—the Chalk-A-Block will be located in front, and will provide hours of entertainment. Adults and children alike can create their own masterpieces with chalk on the street. Other activities will also be included.
Food vendors from all over the state will offer homemade favorites like funnel cakes, blooming onions, barbeque plates, fried catfish plates, corndogs, red beans and rice and more.
Browse the wares of arts and crafts vendors who have come from far and near. There’ll be a wide variety to choose from with everything from handmade quilts, crocheted items and wood crafts, wax hand impressions, homemade soaps and lotions to Pampered Chef cookware, original paintings, jewelry, handbags and more.
For more information, call the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission at (337) 238-0783 or (800) 349-6287.