LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - This film reel of the 1964 rodeo parade through downtown Lake Charles gives just a glimpse of just how big the yearly spectacle had become. Uncovered by Westlake resident Loren Victory, the video shows the Lake Area's fascination with the Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo.
"It was a huge parade with a lot of horses," said John Guilbeaux. "They would have a lot of people. There was even a float called a hoosegow, which was a western term for a jail. For people who were not interested, they would get put in the hoosegow."
Brothers John and Jimbeaux Guilbeaux got to see many of the rodeo's celebrities, because their late dad, Rodney Guilbeaux was their host.
"Mama would cook," recalled Jimbeaux. "Some of the stars wanted to eat some Cajun food. They would come to the house. We didn't get to sit down at the table with them, but we got to visit with them and tell people at school that they came to our house. So we were pretty big."
Most were stars of TV westerns, which were popular in the day.
"We've got pictures with Ben, Adam and Little Joe from Bonanza," said John. "The guys from Wagon Train. Clint Walker from Cheyenne. Ken Curtis from Gunsmoke. Through Dad we had a chance to be in the moment and be with people that we saw on TV that were our heroes at the time."
"Festus could sing," said Jimbeaux. "People didn't realize he could sing, because he had that twang. When he got up and sang, it was just unbelievable that it came out of his mouth. It was crazy."
Back then, the rodeo was held in the old McNeese arena, which is now the rec center. In the 1970s, the event was moved to Burton Coliseum.
The Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo kicks off Thursday, February 1, 2018.