NEW IBERIA, La (KLFY) – The 75th annual Louisiana Sugarcane Festival is set to take over New Iberia for the next few days and as things prepare to kick into high gear, making sure families are safe and secure at the festival is a great concern.
“This year no negotiations have been made with Sheriff Ackal,” said Capt. Wendell Raborn, Public Information Officer for the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
For the first time the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office won’t be handling security for the festival, according to Capt. Raborn.
“We’ll be patrolling the city, we’ll be patrolling the parish, we’ll be doing all the duties that we normally do, just we will not physically be at the Fais Do Do or at the festival grounds,” explained Capt. Raborn. He says that the sheriff’s office spoke with the festival association about at least working security for the parade.
“The only stipulation was that we wanted a signed contract that way if there was some type of financial dispute we had a legal recourse to come back,” said Capt. Raborn, but he says that was a no go.
“The festival association decided they would not get into a contract with us,” said Capt. Raborn.
Capt. Raborn says that decision stems from pay issues after last year’s festival.
“When we presented the bill for the security for the entire Sugarcane Festival they came up short and there was no recourse for us to go back to recover the funds, and Sheriff Ackal paid the deputies out of his own pocket,” said Capt. Raborn.
One festival goer says after past experience, she’d like to see more security.
“I know last year when we went it was really chaotic, there was barely any police,” said New Iberia resident, Trina Brown. “It was just ridiculous.”
Capt. Raborn says even though they won’t work security for the festival events, they’ll still be present in problematic areas like Hopkins St.; an area well-known to be popular for large groups of people to gather after the festival.
“We’re going to monitor the area and certainly if it gets too rowdy or there’s danger to the public we’re going to be there to enforce the laws, but as long as everyone’s having a good time and they’re cooperating with each other we’re happy to let them do it,” said Capt. Raborn.
We reached out to the Sugarcane Festival Association, but our calls were not returned.
The festival kicks off Thursday and will run until Sunday.