The 2nd Annual Juice Fest is set to take place in Downtown Houma, despite a dispute over agreed funds by the Terrebonne Parish Council and being postponed to July 28 due to Hurricane Barry.

Last year’s inaugural Juice Fest was a local success. Thousands gathered in front of the Terrebonne Parish Courthouse to enjoy a diverse lineup of free live entertainment presented by local DJ, Justin Patterson, also known as DeeJay Juice.

The festival was created, Patterson said, to bring together the entire community together – regardless of race or culture – and give back to the youth. At last year’s event, Patterson, through his entity The Patterson Marketing Group, gave away his customized backpacks full of school supplies to local children. All the proceeds from the event went into donations for Terrebonne Parish schools and free bikes and toys for local children during Christmas.

The positive impact the festival had on the community was acknowledged by Terrebonne Parish Government officials. Councilman John Navy, Council Budget and Finance Committee Chair, proposed that the Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government (TPCG) allocate $10,000 in funds from the 2019 budget to co-sponsor this year’s Juice Fest. “He insisted that the board supported the Juice Fest because it promotes unity of all races and gives back to local schools with supplies, clothes and scholarships,” said Patterson.

“He [Navy] called me around November or December to say that the budget for the co-sponsorship with the Parish was approved. It wasn’t at my request; it was at his request, looking out for me,” Patterson recalled. “So, as the months went by, in my head in planning for Juice Fest, that was some money that I had in my back pocket – in case I needed the extra spending.”

However, the council later noticed that Patterson’s company, Patterson Marketing Group, wasn’t a nonprofit and members voted to reject the agreement. The sponsorship later returned to the agenda in a motion by Councilwoman Arlanda Williams.

“...Five of the board members voted against giving me the budget after it had already been approved, so the money was just there,” said Patterson. “So, I went before them and I presented exactly what I was doing to let them know that I wasn’t doing it for a profit. And they understood it. And some of their attention shifted and some of their votes shifted.”

The sponsorship agreement was then delayed in late June, a few weeks before the original scheduled date for Juice Fest (July 13).

Patterson didn’t like the controversy the budgeted funds were creating, however, and decided to drop the discussion from the agenda when the Committee met on July 8.

“They were torn between giving me that money, and I knew what kind of disruption that would incite with the taxpayers and the people in the city who wouldn’t stand for that,” he said. “I told them that I wasn’t 100 percent correct because I’m not a nonprofit organization, and I don’t think it will be right for me to receive this money. And that was from my heart.”

Members of the Committee commended Patterson for not only pulling the request from the agenda, but also for his work with Juice Fest. The Committee ultimately voted to pass a motion, proposed by Councilman Darrin Guidry and seconded by Councilwoman Christa Duplantis-Prather, to ask the TPCG administration to budget funds for next year’s Juice Fest. The vote passed 4-3.

Patterson said he appreciated all the members of the council who “went to war” for him over the $10,000 worth of funds and believed in his vision, and he will develop a nonprofit organization for his own reasons. Nonetheless, he said he doesn’t need any money from the TPCG to put on the festival.

“I’ve proven that I don’t need parish funding for my festival. I only went see about that because my name was written on it,” Patterson explained. “The festival has grown, so the $10,000 would have accommodated for more people and more things. I’m not losing by not having it, but it could have been a help.”

Notwithstanding the sponsorship controversy and the new day of July 28 due to the arrival Hurricane Barry this past weekend, Juice Fest is still a highly-anticipated event and Patterson is hopeful for a good turnout. “Sunday is a better day, traffic wise, for the event since Downtown Houma is normally closed, and people don’t work on Sundays,” he added.

For the festival’s — which starts at 5 p.m. — second year, some big-named talent will grace the courthouse steps. New Orleans rapper Choppa, who recently reemerged into stardom when his hit song “Choppa Style” became a theme song for the Saint’s 2018 season, will be performing. Grammy-nominated Karina Pasian will be flying in from Spain to display her vocal talents to the Houma crowd. Local dancer that’s receiving national attention SOphamish, the singing group The Celestin Sisters, DeeJay Juice & Friends and more local talent will be showcased at the concert as well. The full lineup can be seen on the festival’s official Facebook page.

Different booths by various organizations and individuals will sell a variety of food that includes cracklins, funnel fries, hot crab dip, boiled turkey necks and chicken on the stick, among other items.

Like last year, the event will do backpack giveaways and the proceeds will go to local schools. Patterson will also be awarding the 2019 Juice Fest Scholarship, donated by himself, to Alaysha Fleming, a 2019 honor graduate from H.L. Bourgeois High School.

“It’s about the city unifying at one time,” said Patterson. “From people experiencing death and suicide, to drugs, to police getting hit with buckets, we need everyone to unify and come together—even if it is just for four hours.” •

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