Hessmer to celebrate 60th anniversary with 1st annual 'Cajun Crossroads Festival'


By Raymond L. Daye
This Saturday’s “Cajun Crossroads Festival” in Hessmer is a celebration of the village’s “birth” as a municipality, a celebration of the spirit of fun and love of food characteristic of this parish and a celebration of a man who dedicated most of his life to improving his community.
The 1st annual event will actually kick off Friday night with the opening games of an adult T-ball tournament on the two diamonds of the recently renamed Ronald Mayeux Baseball Complex, Event Coordinator Brandi Dubea said. The tournament will continue through Saturday and conclude by 6 p.m. There are 10 teams competing.
A main ingredient of the Hessmer festival is baseball. In keeping with that interest, a Cajun Crossroads Homerun Derby will be held from 1-2 p.m., giving adults the chance to tee up the ball and send it sailing over the outfield wall. From 2-3 p.m., the kids get to show Mom and Dad how it’s really done in the children’s derby. There is a $5 entry fee for the derbies. Sign up is Saturday prior to the event.
Another main attraction is the Jambalaya Cook-off, with teams of cooks from across the parish vying for the title of Jambalaya King of the Crossroads. Cooking starts at 6:30 a.m. and will conclude at noon, with the winner announced at 12:30 p.m., Dubea said. The three judges for the cook-off are former district judge Mark Jeansonne, Clerk of Court Connie Couvillon and local restaurateur Kent Juneau.
There will be seven inflatable jumps on the village’s recreation complex -- the former Hessmer High School campus. For $5, children will receive an armband entitling them to unlimited jumping fun.
Dubea said there will be a variety of concession foods and drinks available. After the cook-off results, the jambalaya will be available for purchase.
There will be music from noon to midnight, with a brief break to allow festival-goers to enjoy the early evening fireworks display. Jonathan Bettevy and Parish Wide, a country band from Marksville, will perform from noon to 4 p.m. Last Ride, an Alexandria country/Southern rock band,  will take over from 4-7 p.m. Anxiety, a rock band from Hessmer, will close the evening’s festivities from 8:30 p.m. to midnight.
At 7 p.m. there will be a pause in the  frivolity to honor the late Ronald Mayeux for his life of dedication to the Hessmer area and Avoyelles Parish.
Mayeux was a long-time teacher at Hessmer High, twice superintendent of parish schools, and was Hessmer’s last principal, serving in that capacity when the school was closed as part of a court-ordered desegregation plan. Mayeux was also instrumental in bringing Little League baseball to Hessmer and was active in that organization.
Photos of Hessmer High alumni will be taken on the baseball field at about 7:30 p.m.
Those attending are reminded to bring blankets or lawn chairs so they can enjoy the fireworks, which will begin at dark.
“We hope to bring in people from outside so they can see this great community,” Hessmer Mayor Travis Franks said.


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