Festival: we're all in this together

by Mary Tutwiler

This comment was posted yesterday on my blog about how much I like Frankie burgers, one of my personal Festival International treats.

written by Not Amused , April 22, 2010
I know everyone likes to have a lot of food and drink options at Festival, but remember that regular downtown restaurants and bars that keep their doors open during Festival are benefiting but not contributing financially to the unique, wonderful, FREE event we have here. Please buy your food and drink from Festival vendors using Festival tickets, so that a portion of what you're spending goes to help Festival cover its expenses!

Frankie's, which is a downtown restaurant, only opens late in the evening, so folks like me who work during the day and are in bed about the time Frankie starts grilling don't get the opportunity to eat Frankie burgers, and my personal fave, his bbq sausage poboys, but a few times a year, when we happen to be standing on Jefferson Street at midnight.

"Not Amused" is not connecting is the dots between the downtown merchants, the Downtown Development Authority, and Festival International, which takes place in the streets and parks of downtown. Every business downtown pays a special tax to DDA, which directs and supports continued improvements for festival's downtown home: Streetscape, Parc Internationl, Parc Sans Souci, Parc Putnam, as well as providing space on DDA property for Festival events and a cash infusion of $7500 to festival.

Had the DDA not been conceived in 1983, had the taxing district not come into being in 1994, had Streetscape not happened in 1995, had entrepreneurs not invested in downtown and taken a risk opening businesses, Festival International, which was conceived in 1987 by the city of Lafayette, DDA, Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, the Acadiana Arts Council and Le Centre International, would not have had this beautiful, vital urban cityscape in which to celebrate our Francophone heritage and global fraternity.

We love Festival International. I proudly wear my new pin every year. I buy alligator on a stick and way too much beer from vendors and come home with a new piece of African art every April. I also dive into our local restaurants for a mango marguerita or a taste of sushi or a taco or a bite of kibbe or a pull of local Hwy. 31 beer.

The environment of downtown has developed and matured hand in hand with the festival which was born in the depths of the oil crash both as a economic engine for tourism and a celebration of who we are. You can't love one without the other. This is a time to come together and enjoy all of what festival and downtown has to offer. We're all connected.