The Voice of the Wetlands Festival will take over Southdown Plantation once again this year. The third annual festival will be held on October 13, 14 and 15 – a three-day event – celebrating the unique culture from the region that the wetlands directly protect and support. The underlying mission of the festival is to gain national awareness for the wetlands crisis and turn community initiatives into actions. By utilizing the culture of South Louisiana to promote the wetlands crisis, the wetlands are now being returned the favor with critical support from musicians and the community through events such as this. It's a unique way to connect the community with those working with the wetlands and also spreading the word about the issues. Together, there's an opportunity to build a national voice that is louder and stronger than the individual parts can offer.
"We'll all get together and have some fun, but it's important that we get something done in the process," Tab Benoit, president of Voice of the Wetlands has passionately stated in regards to this year's event. Tab spends 250+ days a year on tour sharing a moment at each performance about his first hand accounts of the coastal crisis with audiences nationwide. His fan base and music career has gained this year's Voice of the Wetlands Festival national recognition in the media as well as with other organizations such as the Blues Foundation. They are finding ways to bring the music, culture and coastal erosion issues to their readers and help gain support for VOW on a national level.
"It's important to keep the festival free to the public, so the information about the wetlands crisis is available to everyone," Rueben Williams, festival promoter and VOW member explains. Donations throughout the year's benefit events, along with sponsorship, have kept the festival running the two previous years. Since last year's efforts were shifted towards hurricane relief to benefit Katrina survivors, budgeting is very tight for the 2006 festival. VOW organizers are opening up every avenue for support through donations and sponsorship, including possible naming rights to the festival. There was no doubt that the festival needed to be held this year, especially when many other festivals have been discontinued in the region. The wetlands issues aren't going away so the mission of the festival has grown stronger.
Festival promoters are also excited to announce Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) will take the stage with Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars as part of Sunday evening's finale. The All-Star line up features Dr. John, Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Waylon Thibodeaux, George Porter Jr., Jumpin' Johnny Sansone and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux. Prior to the hurricanes, the VOW All-Stars were already working together to raise awareness of coastal erosion. Their message has become even more critical now than before with the threat of losing this area's unique culture, heritage, wildlife, people and way of life. Each one of the musicians involved in the project appreciates the influence that Louisiana has had on them musically.
Schedule of Events
Friday Evening (festival hours 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.) – Community involvement and national initiatives are being addressed throughout the weekend with political stump speeches kicking off the festival Friday evening. Local politicians and wetland experts are invited to take the stage and share what actions are taking place and the involvements necessary for results. Exhibitors are being sought to provide information for the festival-goers to learn about the wetlands. Festivities follow the speeches with the X-Treme Guitar Showdown featuring Tab Benoit. He's inviting special guests to join him on stage for an unyielding dose of blues, rock and roots music.
Saturday & Sunday All Day Events (festival hours 12:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. both days) – The festival swings into full gear with local, regional and national music acts based in Louisiana's diverse musical roots and culture. Performances include Louisiana LeRoux, Cyril Neville and Tribe 13, The Chubby Carrier Band, The Treater Band, The Waylon Thibodeaux Band, Southern Cross, The Pershing Wells Louisiana Songwriting Revue, The Dream Junkies and The Hurricane Levee Band. Estuary exhibits and informative wetlands experts will be on-hand to share first hand accounts of the actions and issues faced in protecting and restoring the coast of Louisiana and its people. And with all local festivals, you can't serve up the culture without serving up the great cuisine of South Louisiana. Local chefs, family recipes and special ingredients will take center stage under the pavilion. This year's festival adds something for the kids as well with inflatable jumping tents and concessions.
Additional Events – Voice of the Wetlands Benefit Poker Run sponsored by Cycle World of Houma on Sunday, riders will check in at Cycle World early in the morning and follow a run ending at the VOW Festival in the afternoon. Prizes will be presented during the festival. Local music clubs are also combining efforts to continue the festival mission at downtown locations with live music continuing the late night. Door proceeds will benefit VOW.
For more information on Voice of the Wetlands organization and festival, visit www.voiceofthewetlands.com.