Sep 10, 2012 6:49 PM by Jenise Fernandez
The Yambilee Festival has been a tradition for 66 years, but for the first time ever, there will be no festival this year.
Yambilee board president Yvonne Normand says the decision to cancel the festival was not easy, but she felt she had no choice. Normand says at the last meeting, only three of 12 board members showed up.
"It's all based on the volunteers sitting at the table saying this is what's going to get done and we didn't have that," she said.
Normand says there isn't enough manpower to make the festival happen. She posted ads in the paper and online asking for more volunteers, but only one responded.
"Two months before the festival there is no adequate support to put on the festival," said Normand.
Normand says getting volunteers hasn't been the only problem, but the festival has been struggling over the years and attendance hasn't been strong.
"You have the faithful crowd, but not the large numbers we've had historically," she added.
Sweet potato farmer Matt Garber was "Mr. Yam" in 2009. He says his family has always helped with the festival, donating sweet potatoes for the festival to sell. He says he's disappointed there won't be one this year.
"The festival was important to the industry. It helped educate and promote, anything to put the sweet potato out there is good for our industry," said Garber.
"I hope the community will say we don't want to lose a piece of history," added Normand.
The Yambilee Festival started in October of 1946 and is one of the oldest festivals in Acadiana. The purpose of the festival was to celebrate the sweet potato industry, which was a booming industry in Opelousas at the time. The festival is typically held during the last full week of October.