Families and friends from across the entire state will gather at the Thibodaux Fire Department Fairgrounds (1101 Tiger Dr.) for the 135th Annual Thibodaux Firemen’s Fair (May 2 – May 5) — where all proceeds gathered go directly to the Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department (TVFD).
“The fair has been going on for so long, and it’s been a huge event in our community,” said Ron Bourgeois, Board President of TVFD. “In addition to being a fundraiser, it’s also a community tradition. A lot of people look forward to going to the fair to support the fire department and also to spend time with friends and family they may have not spent a whole lot of time with since the last fair.”
With its origin tracing back to 1883 — when it raised just under $250 dollars for TVFD at that year’s fair — the event has grown tremendously over the years and raises significant funds for the fire department, profiting over $800,000 at last year’s festival.
“None of this goes to salaries, or pensions or anything like that,” Bourgeois explained. “We’re 100 percent volunteer. Every member we have has a job. When a call comes in, most of us fortunately have employers that allow us to leave our jobs to go on the call of duty.”
Bourgeois continued to note that the money gained from the fair makes up nearly half of the annual budget for the department, and the funds are used to purchase and maintain equipment and train the department’s firefighters twice a year, among other various expenses.
At this year’s event — which is free to enter — fair-goers can enjoy top thrill rides from North American Midway Entertainment. Pay-one-price ride bracelets will be offered to attendees, valid the entire day they were purchased.
The fire department spent a higher budget on musical entertainment this year, having a lineup full of big names that includes Category 6, Fuel, Jo Dee Messina and Royal Blugarou featuring Wayne Toups, just to name a few. The full schedule can be viewed on the fair’s website, firemensfair.com.
Handcrafted furniture, LSU tailgate packages, tickets to professional sporting events, artwork and guns will be auctioned off at the fair. There will also be a raffle with a grand prize of $10,000.
Food — such as gumbo, boudin, jambalaya turkey legs and the “Famous Firemen’s Fair Burger” — cooked and prepared by the volunteer fire department members, will be available to purchase as well.
Safety, Bourgeois emphasized, is a top priority at the festival with officers on duty and a tall fence that wraps around the fair grounds.
There will be a 5k and Fun Run the Saturday of the event, and that Sunday, the annual Firemen’s Parade (a tradition that runs longer than the fair itself), will be led by 2019 Grand Marshal Dr. Justin Tenney. “Dr. Tenney has been a phenomenal grand marshal,” Bourgeois said. “He has worked so hard. He’s reached out to every possible resource…and anyone he can think of that would be willing to help us.”
“The parade means a lot. To me, the parade is a much bigger deal than the fair,” Bourgeoius added, “because it’s our opportunity to walk through the streets of Thibodaux with all of our equipment, and the community comes out and thanks us for what we do. It’s an awesome feeling to see on that day, how much we appreciate it.” •