LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – It’s hard times for Festival International de Louisiane. It’s an annual event that draws thousands to the Lafayette area. The Executive Director, Scott Feehan explains that tough decisions had to be made.
Festival International has been coined the largest international music festival in the united states with over 300,000 festival goers. It’s estimated that the economic impact is about $49 million with people from 48 states and 25 countries.
The downturn in the oil industry and economy state-wide impacts more than jobs. Some Festival International sponsors are having to confess that they may not have the money to give as they’ve done in past years.
Many organizations that rely on community and corporate support are being forced to scale back. Katherine Guillot who says she’s personally connected to the festival understands. “I think there are a lot of people in this area that are struggling as a result of the oil and gas industry economic downtown,” says Guillot.
Feehan says he has had to make some tough decisions. “Started with internal cuts and trying to be more efficient by doing away with things hopefully nobody will notice. At some point, we have to close the gap. Tough decisions had to be made and we may have some more ahead of us,” says Feehan.
Feehan says one closure will be the Heritage Stage with Zydeco and Cajun music. Feehan says the heritage program will have to be worked into the other stages. He adds that it only makes sense. “That stage alone is $33,000 to produce with musicians and production costs so.”
Feehan says the festival was created 30 years ago during an oil crunch. Its mission was to be a free event to bring happiness to residents during hard times. Feehan says he wants to stay true to that mission and not charge an admission fee. “If you value the festival and you can support whether it’s $5, $50, $3,000 whether the amount is. If you appreciate the festival and want to support, let’s pull together and make it happen.”
Guillot says she’s willing to pay a cover charge to enjoy the five-day event. “I don’t think it necessarily has to be for the long-term but definitely in an effort to keep it going; because we just wouldn’t want to see us not have our festival,” adds Guillot.