Festival excites crowds

Published 7:10 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The fifth annual Bogalusa Blues and Heritage festival wrapped up Saturday evening before a park filled with satisfied locals and visitors.

Musicians took to Cassidy Park’s two stages on Friday and for two days, the sounds of blues, rock, Cajun and country poured out across the park and mingled with the smell of wood smoke from campfires, cooking meats from food carts and the sounds of families and friends enjoying a shared experience.

There were few signs that the park had been closed until recently — the victim of torrential flooding in March. The city had posted a few photos taken after the food and a play area toward the read of the park was still cordoned off but unless one went searching, evidence of the disaster was scarce.

One man who was searching was Gerard Huval. He and his wife, Annette, were camping along the banks of the Bogue Lusa Creek, and Huval, a collector of driftwood, shells and other found bits, noticed a small, gleaming object in the sand along the creek.

Huval dug it up and found an old Coca-Cola bottle, intact, its bottom stamped with BOGALUSA. Huval had heard of the flood and said he suspected the bottle might be from the museum and he planned to return it Saturday.

The festival was a celebration of music and also local history. This year’s event featured an all-day film screening of “Bogalusa Charm,” and William “Bleu” Evans was honored, as was Eugene Foster, who were both added to the festival’s Heritage Trail. Evans built the Studio in the Country recording studio and Foster built the Magic City Recording Studio.

Record producer Jeff Glixman took to the stage to praise Evans, the studio and Bogalusa.

“This town and that studio meant the world to us,” Glixman said. “It unleashed the band and the creativity of everyone involved.”

Glixman produced two Kansas albums recorded in Bogalusa — “Point of Know Return” and “Leftoverature” — which featured the hit track, “Carry on Wayward Son.”

Malinda White, a festival organizer, said the whole show was a hit.

“Most definitely. It was very successful,” she said. “We were very pleased with the turnout.”

She said she is still calculating ticket sales so she doesn’t have an estimate quite yet of the crowd size, but she said it seemed like a good turnout.

“It’s a good indicator that we had a nice sized crowd and we didn’t have any major hiccups or any incidents that we were aware of, and that’s always a good thing,” she said.

Informally, she said she’s heard at least one food vendor ran out of food late Saturday night, and she even heard good things from the musicians.

“The response from the musicians was great they were just thrilled to be at the event. They said they were treated so well,” she said.

Visitors have also been giving this year’s event rave reviews. The Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival’s Facebook page was filed with compliments beginning Saturday, including one from Angie Walker from Mandeville.

She wrote, “Can’t wait for next year. Perfect venue, great food, easy parking with free shuttles … To heck with Jazz Fest Bogalusa is the place to go.”

White said if anyone else has any suggestions, they should email them to the festival. Organizers will meet Tuesday, Oct. 4, to discuss next year’s event. White said suggestions may be emailed to malinda@bogalusablues.com or to info@bogalusablues.com.