The Gold Star Midway will look quite different today as thousands flood into Crowley for the 83rd annual International Rice Festival.
83rd International Rice Festival activities, events get underway today
The 83rd edition of the International Rice Festival is officially underway and there will be no shortage of excitement in downtown Crowley this weekend.
The music portion of the festival kicked off Thursday night with live performances on both of the festival stages.
Official opening ceremonies, featuring municipal and festival officials and festival royalty will be held at 9 a.m. today, followed by entertainment from three local dance schools — Tumbling Tots, Core Dance Center and Rice City Gymsations.
Over at the LSU AgCenter, the Rice and Creole Cooking Contest judging will begin at 9:30 a.m.
In Levy Park (between Third and Fourth streets), the Crowley Art Association’s Arts in the Park, featuring a variety of vendors selling a wide assortment of homemade and handcrafted items, will open at 9 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Introduction of princes and princesses from schools across the parish, all vying for the crown of Junior Rice Festival King and Queen, will begin at 10:15 a.m. The new royalty will be crowned at 11:30 a.m.
The International Rice Festival Dance Troupe will perform during the pageant and immediately following.
The Rice Eating Contest, sponsored by the Crowley Lions Club, begins at noon, followed by more entertainment from Rice Festival Dance Troupe.
A number of awards will be announced from the main stage beginning at 1:15 p.m., including the Rice Grading and Sheaf Awards presented by the LSU AgCenter, and the Rice and Creole Cooking Awards.
The annual Children’s Parade featuring floats and bands from Acadia Parish Schools and led by Children’s Parade Grand Marshal Sandra Doré will roll at 1:30 p.m.
From 3 p.m. until midnight, live music once again takes over the two festival stages.
The festival closes at midnight.
Bright and early Saturday morning — at 7 a.m. — registration for the Classic Car Show opens in the parking lot of Bank of Commerce, 326 N. Avenue G. Judging of the cars will take place at 10 a.m. with awards to be presented at 1:45 p.m.
After opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. on the Supreme Rice Sound Stage, a number of awards will be announced, including:
• Falcon Rice Mill Millworker of the Year;
• Supreme Rice Mill Millworker of the Year:
• 5K Run/Walk winners;
• Poker Run winners;
• Window Decorating winners; and
• President’s Choice Rice Festival Volunteer of the Year.
Presentation of visiting queens will begin at 9:45 a.m. followed by the presentation of contestants vying for the crown of 82nd International Rice Festival Queen.
Crowning of the new festival royalty is expected to take place at about 10:45 a.m.
Over at the Cramer Equipment Stage, the annual Accordion and Fiddle Contests begin at 10 a.m.
At 11 a.m., the Rayne Lions Club will present a Frog Derby demonstration at the Supreme Rice Stage with the 2018 Frog Derby Queen and Frog Jockey Queen, along with a number of Frog Jockeys showing off the leaping abilities of the giant bullfrogs.
Live music will precede the International Rice Festival Grand Parade, which rolls at 3 p.m. with L.J. and Chee Chee Gielen and Kim Gielen Gattle as Parade Marshals.
A full line-up of musical entertainment from both stages is scheduled to close the festival.
The festival again closes at midnight.
From noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday, Gold Star Amusements will open the midway rides.