NEW CHAMBER BOARD MEMBERS WELCOMED - Welcomed to their first Board meeting of the Rayne Chamber of Commerce by President Nikki Link, far lefft, during the Wednesday, Feb. 6, meeting were, from left, Michele Veillon, Marietta Leonards-Sikat and Crystal Underwood. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Lisa Soileaux)

Rayne Chamber announces upcoming events, hears Mardi Gras report

Business Appreciation Night slated Feb. 28 at Civic Center

RAYNE - With a most successful Mardi Gras Ball under their belt, the Rayne Chamber of Commerce discussed a number of projects in the near future during their monthly meeting held Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Chamber office.
Chairman Michelle Autin gave a report of the 8th Annual Grand Court Mardi Gras Ball held Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Rayne Civic Center. “Under the Big Top” was the theme for the 2019 celebration.
“Ticket sales went well,” Autin stated. “Not quite as good as last year, but still good. I think everyone enjoyed the ball and would like to thank everyone for their help, especially the committee members.”
Members were reminded that proceeds of the Mardi Gras Ball help to benefit the Chamber’s scholarship program presented to Rayne High and Notre Dame students at graduation each year.
Autin has completed three years as ball chairman. The Board is in need of a new chairman, along with additional Mardi Gras ball committee members.
Chamber Executive Director Fran Bihm announced plans for the 2019 Annual Business Appreciation Night. The event, moved ahead to Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Rayne Civic Center, was due to Mardi Gras in March of this year.
In addition to the new officers and board members to be installed during the event, a number of awards will be presented, including Business Person of the Year, Employee of the Year, Chamber Member of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year.
New Board members announced during the meeting who will be welcomed during the banquet are Michele Veillon, Crystal Underwood and Marietta Leonards-Sikat.
The city, co-sponsors of the event, will provide the meal for the evening as State Representative John Stefanski will serve as emcee for the “Chamber Mambo.” Keep the theme in mind for the table decorating contest to be held again this year.
Each Chamber business will receive four tickets for entry. If more are needed, a table of eight will be available for $25.
The next major event being planned by the Chamber discussed during the meeting was the Rayne Mardi Gras Parade and After Party.
Co-sponsored with the City of Rayne, the parade will be held on Saturday, March 2, and everyone is invited to participate. All participants must complete the entry form available at the Chamber office at 107 Oak Street. Deadline to enter with entry fee of $25 is Thursday, Feb. 28. Entry fee for all political candidates seeking office in the 2019 year is $75 as announced by Chairman Brian Mouton.
The parade line-up will begin at 2 p.m. on American Legion Drive, with the parade beginning at 3 p.m., travel along The Boulevard and South Adams Ave., and end at the Frog Festival Pavilion where the “After Parade Party” will be enjoyed between 4-7 p.m. where everyone is invited to enjoy the “Chicken & Sausage Gumbo Cook-Off”, BBQ hamburgers, cold drinks, music, all at no admission.
The Chamber is now taking entries for the Chicken & Sausage Gumbo Cook-Off, with $25 entry fee. Gumbo Cook-Off entry forms with rules and regulations are available at the Chamber office.
The public will be able to sample all the gumbo entries for only a $5 sampling fee. Nikki Link is chairing the Gumbo Cook-off, and adds that no chests with drinks will be allowed.
With the absence of Frog Festival Chairman Jeremy Lavergne, Committee member Suzette Leonards gave a brief report of the upcoming 2019 Rayne Frog Festival slated May 9-11.
“Everything is rolling along pretty smoothly,” Leonards stated. “Entertainment has been secured and the carnival is lined up. We are concentrating on sponsors at this point.”
The main change for this year’s Frog Festival is the parade that has been moved to Thursday, May 9, at 6 p.m., followed by the opening ceremonies at the Frog Festival Pavilion of where the parade will end. A complete schedule of events for the three days of activities will be released soon.
Link announced the raffle will be held again this year, but with a twist. The raffle will not have prizes, but half-and-half pay out. Raffle tickets will be sold at the festival, from Frog Festival committee members and at the Chamber office.
Link also added that volunteers, including organizations and school clubs, are still in need for the many events the festival will offer. Any club or organization is urged to contact the Chamber office with any questions or if interested in working a time slot during the festival.
With the start of a new year for the Chamber’s Farmers Market, Chairperson Marietta Sikat gave a new quarterly schedule for the coming year. She announced the new dates including March 9, June 8, September 14 and November 23 (early December event due to Christmas shopping).
Bihm also noted that membership dues are continuing to be received and retention is good with members renewing membership. She urged all Chamber members to submit their dues for the coming year.
The financial report was presented by treasurer Tiffany Thibodeaux and the upcoming budget will be presented at the March meeting. The USDA loan for the Chamber building was also discussed.
The ongoing Old Spanish Trail Celebration was discussed and Dr. Eddie Palmer again volunteered to continue his great work with the program. He was also thanked for his dedication to the growing OST project that will hopefully soon encompass the entire Acadiana area.
Palmer noted plans to expand the 2019 celebration to include the Warehouse Event Center in addition to The Bank and The Crossing at Mervine Kahn.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that we need more room in order for us to provide more materials for the many visitors to view,” stated Palmer. “We are again looking at the first weekend in November as usual, but that will be decided next month during our first organizational meeting.”
Under announcements: Friday, Feb. 15, is the deadline to submit nominations for the upcoming Business Appreciation Night awards; Frog Festival committee meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11 at 5 p.m.; Mardi Gras Parade committee meeting slated Monday, Feb. 25, at 5:30 p.m.
The meal for the noon meeting was provided by Fezzo’s of Crowley.

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