Those looking for good times, good music, and good eats should visit the Gheens Bon Mangé Festival.
At the center of the Gheens community soul is the Vacherie-Gheens Community Center, which hosts a multitude of events integral to the community’s social fabric.
Among the weddings, pageants and science fairs, this multipurpose structure and its surrounding grounds also host the annual Gheens Bon Mange Festival, which is set for June 5-7.
Originally called the Gheens Day Festival, this family-friendly event was started in the 1970s by members of local clubs who saw the need for a communal gathering place.
In 1973, the festival was moved from its original venue behind St. Anthony’s Catholic Church to the new community center.
With donated land from Nolan Falgout and a few years of dedication and hard work, the dream materialized.
The festival continues to serve as the center’s lifeblood with 100 percent of the proceeds spent toward upkeep of the facility, according to Hollie Lapeyrouse, vice president of the Gheens Community Center Board.
“Everything that we get from the festival goes back to the community [center], whether it’s new playground equipment or fixing up the building for use,” she said. “One-hundred percent of the proceeds all go back to our community.”
“Bon mangé” is French for “good eats,” so it is no surprise that the menu for this function is quite extensive and appetizing.
“The food. Definitely the food. We have chicken gumbo, seafood gumbo, grillades, catfish and white beans,” Lapeyrouse said. “We have chicken nuggets for the kids and French fries and hamburgers, rice dressing and chicken, there’s jambalaya.”
Beer and a special mixed drink is available for grown-ups. But food alone does not a fair make and the Gheens Bon Mange Festival is more than just copious amounts of delicious delectables. The event has grown immensely over the years and what started as a single-day food festival now spans across three fun-filled days.
The festivities commence on Friday, June 5, from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Gates re-open from noon to 1 a.m. on Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Carnival rides, games, auctions and various children’s activities are among the fest’s enticing features of the fest.
Musical acts include No Way Out, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday; The Gary T Band, noon to 3 p.m., “Ruff N Ready,” 4 to 8 p.m. and Junior and Sumtin’ Sneaky, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday. Pot 2 La takes the stage from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and one-man-band Tet Dur closes out festivities from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday.
“[The festival] is a bunch of hometown people welcoming people into our community to have a good time and raise money for our community,” Lapeyrouse said. “Basically, it’s our hometown and we welcome everybody in to listen to some music, eat some good Cajun food and have a good time.” •