Contraband Days 2012 in middle of rankings compared to years past

Contraband Days 2012

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Sunday marked the final day of the 55th annual Contraband Days Festival. This year's festival included a cheaper gate fee, more entertainment and the arrival of a true hometown celebrity. But did these factors make positive changes to the festival? Some vendors say no.

"Chicken on a stick," said Wendy Thibodeaux with Louisiana Cajun Cooking. "Pork on a stick. Shrimp on a stick."

That can only mean one thing: Contraband Days in southwest Louisiana. The festival wrapped up Sunday after celebrating it's 55th year in the area. Thankfully, for the vendors and the public, the weather seemed to cooperate nicely.

"We've had some gorgeous weather, thank God that the weather came through for us this past Saturday," said Thibodeaux. "Last weekend was a really good weekend also."

Thibodeaux and Louisiana Cajun Cooking celebrated 22 years at Contraband Days this year, meaning lots of good years, bad years, and years like this one, which fell close to the middle for her and other vendors as well.

"The sales this year were fairly good," said Thibodeaux. "Compared to last year, they have improved Contraband, trying to make it more family oriented. I feel like we had a better crowd."

"The sales for us were in the middle, compared to the best year and the worst year," said Duane Hickman with the Wisconsin Cheese Stand. "Things look like they're on the up swing again."

Changes implemented for the 2012 festival included more entertainment, something most people agree is for the better.

"I think a lot of the changes they made are really good," said Hickman. "The added entertainment. People need to get used to a few of the changes that they made. Some of the events they're adding in are going to be a nice addition."

"They had some great entertainment," said Thibodeaux. "They've incorporated some new events here that I think that the people are getting involved in and in the future there's more to come. I think that's going to help bring Contraband back to what it used to be and build up the crowd back to Contraband again."

Saturdays are big days for vendors and this year the festival fought American Idol contestant Josh Ledet for the community's attention. Hickman says Ledet took the win.

"The Josh Ledet thing this weekend I think was kind of neat event," said Hickman. "It kind of hurt the event a little bit, but it was good for the community."

Many vendors shut down early Sunday because of Mother's Day.

But they also say in years past, the final Sunday of the festival yields little profit and closing down early saves money.

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