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Weather dampens annual Catfish Festival

The Franklin Sun

Although rainy weather dampened the 32nd annual Franklin Parish Catfish Festival a bit, there was enough sunshine to bring in about 10,500 people, according to Catfish Festival Director Paul Price Jr.

The rain held off for most of the festival until near closing time.

“Unfortunately, it started raining again around 4 p.m. which pretty much ended the festival a little early, but it was a good day despite all of that,” Price said.

Headlining performers Rhonda Vincent and The Rage were on the Old Glory Stage at the end of the day, but didn’t stop their show as members of the audience who decided to stick it out donned umbrellas.

Price said that throughout the week, the Catfish Festival board had kept an eye on weather conditions.

“It was touch and go all week weather-wise. We were consulting with everyone we could, and by Friday had made the decision to postpone the opening until 9 a.m.”

The time was later pushed back another hour after a conference call with the National Weather Service.

“On Saturday morning around 6 a.m., the festival board met and conference called with the National Weather Service office in Jackson and made the decision to push the opening back another hour to 10 a.m., and it all played out from there,” he said.

Price said that by then, the vendors that came had set up, the streets were clear of vehicles, and the sun was trying to come out.

“Antique cars started showing up, the Wienermobile appeared, and all of a sudden we were having a festival,” Price said.

“Kudos to everyone who helped get it going, from the volunteers, musicians, security folks, town crew, and the vendors – everyone was patient and nobody lost their cool, and things just started happening like they usually do, albeit an hour or so later than normal,” he said.

Price said communications through social media helped get the word out about what was happening, and noted that vendors who showed up and businesses downtown reported that, despite the weather, they were pleased with the way the day turned out.

“The vendors who came did pretty well it seems,” Price said.

“We’re fortunate indeed that we didn’t get rained out. Seems the worst of it went north of us early Saturday morning,” he said.

Price said church groups and others kept the catfish frying. He reported roughly 3,700 pounds of fish were cooked, down just slightly from last year.

“The antique car show was down some this year, but that was certainly weather related. Great job by Joe Doughty and his crew yet again,” Price said.

“One vehicle drove 260 miles to get here,” he added.

Appreciation was also expressed to the Winnsboro Police Department, Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office and all law enforcement officers involved in security at the festival.

“We had no incidents and things ran very smoothly thanks to all of their efforts,” he said.

“The town crew was awesome as usual. If you drove through town by noon Sunday, you saw that the annual Festival Miracle had occurred —the streets were clean, fences gone, and the only things left were the stages and the port-a-jons. They truly do a remarkable job.”

“As the festival director, I want to publicly thank the festival board for all their hard work. They were hands-on and making decisions and doing their respective jobs, and it wouldn’t have happened without them. There are many details that have to be tended to and, particularly this year, decisions made on the fly and, despite the chaotic weather situation, this group got it done. My hat’s off to them,” Price said.

Proceeds generated by the festival go to support a number of community projects and the festival brings in added revenue in the form of increased business at local shops and restaurants.

“This event is important to both Winnsboro and Franklin Parish, and it turned out to be a successful one despite an inauspicious start,” Price said.

Speaking of Mother Nature, Price said, “You can’t do much about the weather, except work around it.”

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Humidity: 88% | Wind: ESE at 1mph