Pictures wanted! I would like to get about 25 pictures of this festival to add to this website. If you have some call me. Bill 225-413-8928
The Madisonville Wooden Boat Festival Wows Visitors of All Ages
Each year as fall approaches and the summer draws to a close, the residents of Madisonville and their numerous guests all gather along the Tchefuncta River for a uniquely Louisiana celebration. This is no ordinary festival though. These people are here to pay their respect to the beautiful hand-crafted wooden boats that still grace the water- and have some fun in the process.
Over a three-day weekend, the entire town focuses its attention on their favorite pastime and welcomes tens of thousands of visitors to join in for the Wooden Boat Fest. Seemingly overnight, the waters of the marina and the lake become packed with some of the most breathtaking vessels still in existence. Enthusiasts from across the Gulf Coast show up to put their pride and joy and display. It is hard to believe that many of these boats are over 50 years old. That is a testament to their reliability and their owner’s dedication to maintaining such an extraordinary part of history.
Wooden Boat Festival Offerings
If you have never been, you absolutely must go! There is no other gathering like this in the parish or state.
-First, you have to get there early. Parking at the Lake Pontchartrain Maritime Museum in Madisonville is free, handicap accessible, and RV friendly, but it does fill up quickly. If you arrive after 10:00am, it is best to use the Sam’s Warehouse parking lot in Covington. Do not fret if this is the case. There are free shuttles that run between this lot and the Festival all day, so you will never have to wait long.
-Food and beverages abound and are stocked by area restaurants. Almost everything is sold in portable sizes that you can hold in your hands while you stroll along admiring the boats. It is the admiring strolls and accompanying stares that the boat owners live for- those show offs!
-There is a special children’s village that has games and activities for the young ones in the crowd. It is a great place to corral them for a little while and burn off excess energy. After seeing all of the wooden boats though, many are going to want to try their hand at building a miniature version of their own.
-The main music stage will be played by local bands that help keep the crowd on their feet. The talent will play everything from rock and roll covers to Cajun and zydeco. It just depends on who gets booked, but they never let you down.
An Exciting End to a Great Weekend
On Sunday, the Wooden Boat Festival has a hilarious parade called the “Quick n’ Dirty.” Each entered crew has been given several hours on Saturday and Sunday in which to decorate their craft and prepare for the procession. This is where the merriment really begins. Decorating times are strictly regulated by the judging panel, and no one is allowed to work on their boats outside of these times. Of course, there is plenty of teasing and joking that goes on, and sometimes even “the ground crew” gets in on the pokes. The boats are judged on their creativity and individuality. And, yes, there is stiff competition for the coveted trophies.
When the parade starts, the Tchefuncta River Bridge is closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Everyone lines up to witness these gorgeous boats glide past in the style of a Mardi Gras parade. They play up the Louisianians’ love of satire and comedy, but everyone is sure to keep it clean (for the most part) because this is a family affair.
Wooden Boat Festival Tickets And Information
A ticket to the Festival is very inexpensive and all proceeds go to benefit the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum that hosts the event. It is well worth your time to go every day, because you will always see something new, and the people you will meet are in a class all their own at the Madisonville Wooden Boat Festival.