Celebrating the city’s rich history

Christopher Boudreaux
October 30, 2008
Robert "Bob" Gobeil
November 3, 2008

Despite the Tri-parish area being hit by two major storms this year, the Thibodeauxville Fall Festival is sure to attract hundreds of folks for a free family-fun event that showcases historic downtown.

“With the economy being the way it is and money being so tight after the storms people want a place where they can go on the weekend that is fun and doesn’t cost a lot of money,” said festival chairwoman Rhonda Dempster.

The festival showcases historic downtown Thibodaux. Luckily, downtown businesses received only minor damages to their facades and were back in business with no delays.

Keeping with a 16-year tradition, Thibodeauxville is always held the second weekend in November. This year, it’s on Nov. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce took over hosting the event 13 years ago, shortly after the festival’s founder, the North Lafourche Revitalization District, disbanded.

The spelling “Thibodeauxville” comes from the original spelling of the city’s name, which excluded the “e”. When the community was settled in the 18th century.

It was incorporated as a town in 1830 under the name Thibodauxville, in honor of Henry Schuyler Thibodaux, a local plantation owner and acting Louisiana governor in 1824. The name changed to Thibodeaux in 1838. However, the current spelling of the city was officially adopted in 1918.

The reason behind starting the festival was to attract people to a part of Thibodaux that was diminishing right before their eyes, the downtown area. The festival would be filled with live music, an abundance of Cajun/Creole food, crafts and fun for everyone, young and old.

“It was almost like the citizens had deserted the downtown area. There were a few shops that were still open but their clientele was small,” Dempster said. “But as Thibodeauxville has taken form, we have watched the downtown area come alive again.”

The family-fun event grew from a small collection of booths on 3rd Street to nearly 140 booths expanding over 2nd, 3rd and 4th streets. Since last year, more businesses have opened in the downtown area, which will offer more attractions for visitors to see.

In recent years, Thibodaux Main Street Inc. began awarding façade grants to business owners to spruce up their building fronts to make the businesses more presentable to the public.

Another way the festival sparks interest in downtown is that is reminds people of their history and heritage.

“The Two Centuries of Thibodaux” exhibited, a slide show presentation, debuted at the Courthouse Annex last year. This year, it will be exhibited at Fremin’s Restaurant, 503 West 2nd Street.

The presentation is a direct result of Lafourche Parish celebrating its 200th anniversary last year. During the preparation for the bicentennial, historians collected information about Thibodaux.

Dempster said Chamber members Janice Lasseigne and Martha Hodnett helped with the celebration. In turn, they came up with the idea to have a slide show of Thibodaux history for all to see.

“A lot of people don’t remember much about Thibodaux’s historical background,” she said. “So we wanted to take the opportunity to give them a refresher course.”

For more information, contact the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce at (985) 446-1187.