(The Daily Advertiser) – Step-N-Strut, one of the biggest trail rides in the state, has been canceled for 2016.
Paul Scott, a Step-N-Strut organizer, said Friday the St. Landry Parish-based group was unable to find a location big enough to host the three-day event, which attracts an estimated 10,000 people per day.
Held the first weekend in November, Step-N-Strut has experienced explosive growth during its 18 years. Since starting in Leonville, the event has moved to locations in Carencro, Opelousas, Natchez, La., and Plaisance to accommodate its ever-expanding crowd.
Organizers were close to booking the 2016 ride at the Beauregard Parish Civic Center, an 88,600-square-foot rodeo arena in DeRidder. But the arena was booked for Nov. 4-6. Step-N-Strut officials chose not to move its event to another date.
“For us, there’s other trail ride events in the month of November,” said Scott. “We support them. They support us. If you have two on the same date, you’re just stepping on each other’s events. Everybody gets hurt.
“That’s part of tradition, not to hurt other events. They worked on their event just as hard as we worked on ours. Just because I messed up, you shouldn’t suffer for that. So we said would do that.
“We started looking for other places and the time just got too short.”
Billed as Louisiana’s Super Ride, Step-N-Strut is one of the largest events on the Creole trail ride circuit, which roughly stretches from Lafayette and surrounding area to Houston. The rides are three-day festivals of live zydeco and R&B music, cooking, camping and horsemanship.
Trail ride groups travel to support each other’s rides, resulting in hundreds of customized pick-up trucks, trailers, campers and RVs following these events.
In the past three years, Step-N-Strut held its ride at Zydeco Park in Plaisance, home of the Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival. Heavy rain before last year’s ride shifted the location to the Yambilee Building in Opelousas.
Earlier this year, Step-N-Strut was in negotiations to hold the event at Rayne Civic Center and Pavilion. But citing concerns over the event’s size and a date conflict, city officials declined the organization’s request.
Scott said the ride’s growth and the need for accommodations have made finding a suitable location challenging.
“It’s not just a trail ride anymore,” said Scott. “More and more people are bringing RVs. We’ve had tour buses.
“We need hotel rooms. Those who don’t want to camp or haul the RV out, they go to hotels. We had to accommodate everybody — a trail rider, an RVer, a hotel goer and campers.”
Scott said organizers are looking into the Beauregard Parish Civic Center and other possible locations for the 2017 event.
“We apologize to our guests for not being able to do it to the standards we wanted to do. We could have thrown anything together, but that’s not fair.”
“We thank everybody who’s helped us in the past 19 years. People plan their vacations and so many things around this. That’s why we tried to push so hard to find a location, but it just didn’t work.”