The Louisiana Pecan Festival takes place on the first full weekend of November each year. The festival and the Town of Colfax play host to 60,000 to 75,000 visitors each year, who come from all over Grant Parish, central Louisiana, the state and throughout the U.S. for three days of fun, great food, live musical entertainment and much more.
WHY PECANS Why celebrate the pecan? For one, many area farmers grow the crop, and pecans are native to the area. Pecans were a staple of the diets of the local Native Americans, and when the settlers began to arrive here from the Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, large plantations grew pecans along with their other crops. Wild pecans were grafted and new varieties cultivated, and soon the crop flourished in the rich soil of the Red River Delta. Local homesteaders also benefited because almost ever yard at one or two trees that produced enough pecans to "keep some and sell the rest", providing them a small money crop in the fall.
THE BEGINNING On May 2, 1969, Louisiana Pecan Festival Incorporated in Colfax, LA, registered with the Louisiana Secretary of State, and the festival event grew out of the parish's Centennial Celebration, which was being celebrated that same year. Grant Parish had been created by legislative action in 1869, carved out of portions of Winn and Rapides Parishes. In 1969, Governor Jimmy Davis was the special guest, and a local girl, Nancy Dean of Colfax, was crowned the Centennial Queen. Several thousand local residents and visitors took part in the event , and with its success, organizers began to plan even more activities and festivities for the next year... and the Louisiana Pecan Festival was born.
The early years of the festival had a "Frontier Days" theme and hosted special guest which included popular movie and television stars of the time - Fess Parker (Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett), James Drury from television's "The Virginian", Buck Taylor, Dale Robertson, and Ken Curtis to name a few. Festival goers loved meeting the celebrities, and from all accounts, most of the guests enjoyed themselves as well. Sorrell Booke, "Boss Hogg" from "The Dukes of Hazzard, was probably the most popular of all the early guests, and people still talk about his visit.
AS IT STANDS TODAY Until the late 1990's, the festival was a two day event, but at the festival grew in size, more and more vendors, arts and crafts sellers and visitors flocked to the area, and it was decided to expand to include Sunday.
What can one expect when visiting the Louisiana Pecan Festival? The weekend kicks off with Children's Day, a family-oriented event sponsored by area businesses that includes games, petting zoo, fun jumps and rock walls and is free to the public. Arts and crafts booths, cooking contest, carnival rides, great food, musical entertainment, Grand Parade, and a fireworks show on Saturday night following the Street Dance.
Year after year, visitors of all ages visit The Country Store, where they can pick up homemade pecans pies and pralines, jams, jellies, local honey, cane syrup and of course, pecans.
Handicapped parking is available, and wheelchair users can navigate most areas of the festivals without difficultly. No four-wheelers, side-by-sides, or other ATV's are allowed on the festival grounds.
DID YOU KNOW???
A laboratory analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that pecans were ranked among the top 20 foods for antioxidants capacity.
- Pecans were found to be higher in antioxidants than almonds or walnuts.
- Research has found they help lower blood pressure
- Rich source of oleic acid (the same type as found in olive oil)
- Help get cholesterol lower
- Help with Prostate Health
- Help with weight control