Musical acts are a major fair highlight

Published 9:19 am Friday, October 16, 2015

One of the more enjoyable aspects of attending the Washington Parish Free Fair is discovering things off the beaten path.

Just in case anyone didn’t realize it, the 2015 Washington Parish Free Fair is upon us. It’s scheduled for Oct. 21-24 at the Washington Parish Fairgrounds in Franklinton.

It’s one of the best run and most well organized fairs I’ve ever attended over the years. The secret to the fair’s success and longevity is the volunteers who don’t mind giving of their time and have the public’s best interests at heart. The fair has been going on since 1911.

As with any fair, of course you have the musical headliners on the main stage. They’re usually the national stars that everybody comes to see. This year’s headliners on the main stage include The Dominos on Saturday, Oct. 24, Frank Foster on Friday, Oct. 23, The Voice winner Craig Wayne Boyd on Thursday, Oct. 22, and The Voice participant David Phelps on Wednesday, Oct. 21. A number of groups and performers serve as warm ups before the headliners take the stage. Good luck at finding a good seat for any of these performers.

For my money, I thoroughly enjoy the musical offerings provided at Down by the Branch stage.

The small stage certainly doesn’t take away from the enthusiasm of the performers. Anyone who had the opportunity to watch The Van-Dells perform at last year’s show will attest to that. The Van-Dells bill themselves as the nation’s top rock n’ roll revue. I just enjoy music from that era. I suppose it has something to do with things being pure in that period. At least, that is how it seemed. That is good enough for me.

Folks who saw The Van-Dells didn’t mind getting out of their seat and dancing to the music. That is my litmus test as to whether or not people really enjoyed the entertainment. The music really gets you moving. There were more than a few people dancing in the aisles that evening.

It seems Down by the Branch entertainment chairman Wayne Kuhn has done it once again with another sparkling lineup that will sure to please those who stop by the venue. It’s serious business with Kuhn to have top-notch entertainment at the venue, and it shows.

Down by the Branch entertainers for 2015 include Mount Hermon resident Owen Tufts, whose stage name is Big Daddy O. A mountain of a man at 6-foot-6, it’s easy to see how he came up with his stage moniker. He’s performed at various locations around the parish. His rendition of the blues is pleasing to the ear.

Bogalusa Southern gospel group, Right Direction, will also be performing. The group includes Don Miley, Percy Knight, Duane Fuller and Tim Duncan. Right Direction drew one of the largest crowds at last year’s fair.

I’m sure I’ll enjoy the Victory Belles. Press releases say the group will take you down a nostalgic journey through WWII-era musical classics. I can’t wait to hear their rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.”

For those who didn’t get the chance to hear Missouri’s The Baker Family recently at the Southern Bluegrass Event in Angie, you’re in luck. The family plays the fair twice daily Wednesday through Friday.

Down by the Branch performers also include Washington Parish performers Joel and Bobby and The Last Chance Bluegrass Band, from Bedico, Lena Prima, Irish band The Sprigs, The Restless Native Band, Runaway Home, and gospel singers Allen Barrios and David Whitehead.

Randy Hammons is a staff writer with The Daily News. He can be reached by calling 985-732-2565 or by emailing