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How it all began 35 years ago

A look back at the history of the Boggy Bayou Festival in Pine Prairie

Thirty-five years ago, before Prairie Manor Nursing Home was ever built, the first Boggy Bayou Festival was held where the nursing home now sits.
Several people decided that such a festival could benefit the facility to house the elderly of the community and surrounding areas.
Many people ask where the name “Boggy Bayou” comes from. Here’s the answer: There’s a bayou located on the west side of Pine Prairie in northern Evangeline Parish named “Boggy Bayou.” For many years, Boggy Bayou or “Bayou Bourbeaux,” as the Cajun French-speaking people would say, was where young people learned to fish and swim for the very first time. It was a place for family gatherings, picnicking, and it brought a lot of pleasure to families all around.
At one time, there was the weekend Boggy Bayou Mud Races, where people from all around would come to race their vehicles on the dirt/mud track. These races were indeed the hottest summer event around. The track was located just a short distance from the bayou.
Even today, the people of the area refer to this special bayou as “Boggy.” It is representative of both the past and the future. In that it is a festival for a facility to care for the elderly. All funds derived from the Boggy Bayou Festival go to Prairie Manor Nursing Home, “the home that prayer built.”
In 1985, the festival was held at the location of today’s Prairie Manor Nursing Home. The nursing home was built in 1986, so the festival had to find a new location.
The festival board was incorporated and the committee purchased nine acres of land, located just one mile south of Pine Prairie on Heritage Road. In 1986, the festival was held at the Boggy Bayou Fairgrounds, where it is still held today.
Funds from the second festival were used to purchase a whirlpool system for nursing home residents.
In 1987, the third annual festival was held and was growing by leaps and bounds. Funds from this festival were placed in a special account for a non-denominational chapel at the nursing home.
In 1990, funds were used to buy a list of supplies needed at the nursing home. Also, an annual landscaping project at the nursing home began with some of the proceeds.
In 1991 and 1992, the festival proceeds were used for the chapel at the nursing home. The chapel is now complete and often used by residents and the community for many services. Also in 1992, the festival board purchased an additional eight acres of property adjoining its existing property. This new property would be used for parking.
In May 1995, a tornado came through the area and destroyed the festival stage at the fairgrounds. In early 1996, a new stage was built for the March festival.
Proceeds from the next few years were set aside to purchase a new van or small bus for the residents. In 1998, a van was purchased with the proceeds.
In 1997, the festival board adopted a logo for the festival. The board sponsored a contest at Pine Prairie School in which students competed in naming the logo, a raccoon. The name selected was “Bayou Bandit.”
The 15th Annual Boggy Bayou Festival was dedicated in loving memory of Father Leslie Prescott, one of the founders of the Boggy Bayou Festival and president of Prairie Manor Nursing Home. At that festival, a special unveiling took place. The stage scene, which was painted by local artist Blain Quam, features a large photo of Father Prescott looking down on a beautiful bayou scene.
With the 2000 festival proceeds, a number of items were purchased for the nursing home, including a lift for bed-bound residents. Other items purchased over the years include: a portable shed to cover the festival bus and van; provide landscaping; a walking track for the nursing home’s back entrance, near the chapel; another lift for bed-bound residents, ($6,000) name tags for all nursing home employees, an insulated food cart to distribute food to the bed-bound residents, dishes for the cart; semi-circle feeding tables to enable staff members to feed more than one resident at a time; equipping a therapy room for residents; computers; and many other supplies including year-round bingo games for residents; a state-mandated smoke room; a computer system for the dietary department; a buffet steam table so residents could enjoy their meals buffet-style; colorful bedspreads and matching valances in residents’ rooms to make them feel more at home with the updated appearance; a custom fountain for the patio area to provide a place for both residents and employees to relax while listening to the soothing sound of flowing water; new furniture for the dining room; a walk-in freezer; chair alarms; a floor polisher.; five portable oxygen concentrators; two regular oxygen concentrators; two totally electric beds; two extra tough-book laptops used in electronic charting; furniture for the nursing home’s new addition; a beautiful rock garden called Little Boggy Bayou; insulated food carts; furniture for the Alzheimer’s unit; furniture and a large television for the residents’ TV room; ice machine; flooring; a handicap equipped van to transport residents; and last year’s proceeds went towards the purchase of a computer station and programs for residents to use.
In 2016, proceeds were used to purchase a soft-serve commercial-style ice cream machine for the residents. Administrator Sandra Book says, “They are enjoying the ice cream. It is one purchase the festival made that sure made them happy,” she adds.
The 2017 proceeds were used to purchase the following items for the nursing home: 50 gel cushions for wheelchairs, six new wheelchairs, six oxygen concentrators, two fully electric beds, new brochures and a new virtual website. Everyone is asked to take a look at this website www.prairiemanor.org
Last year’s proceeds went toward the expense of transport chairs for our residents.
The festival tends to grow each year with new attractions and projects that many people look forward to. It’s a time when the community works together for a common cause – to help the elderly at the local nursing home.
Each year the festival features top entertainers. The 2019 festival will feature headline entertainer Roy Chaffin and the Night Train Band, as well as The Paul and Pete Band and Trace Johnson on Friday, April 5. Saturday’s entertainment includes Jamie Berzas and the Cajun Tradition, Casey Guillory and his band, headliner Glen Templeton, and Ashton Dupre and The Last Call Band.
Our second annual VIP Event will be held on Friday morning from 10-12 for special needs individuals. They will get to ride carnival rides, watch a magic show, enjoy lunch, and listen to live music, all FREE of charge.
It all began 35 years ago. With many prayers, dedicated volunteers, and great supporters, the festival has become a favorite of many. Plan to visit the next one, and remember the cause behind it all when you do.

Evangeline Today

145 Court St.
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Phone: 337-363-3939
Fax: 337-363-2841