Winnsboro, Franklin parish deal with economic fallout from canceled Catfish Festival

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WINNSBORO, LA (03/18/20) “When people think of Winnsboro and Franklin parish, they think of the Catfish Festival” says Paul Price Jr., Director of the Franklin Parish Catfish Festival.

It’s one of the biggest events in the ArkLaMiss that brings community together, now cancelled for the second year in a row due to coronavirus. It has been plagued with bad luck, with weather leading to low attendance in 2018 and cancellations in 2019. The festival can usually maintain itself while giving back financially, but this becomes harder with each cancellation.

“Well over one $100,000 dollars to put it on, bring in entertainers you got to pay, you know, there’s all sorts of expenses. You have fixed expenses and your new expenses every year” says Price Jr.

Revenue also flows directly back to churches, civic groups and school clubs to name a few.

“We also have donations we are committed to making, to the community, and we’re going to make those donations” says Price Jr.

Refund checks are also going back to vendors as well. The festival is still expected to go on next year, but what will its troubled past mean for the future?

“Right now we’re not sure what that effect is” says Price Jr.

Not only does the festival itself bring money to the city of Winnsboro and Franklin parish, but it also brings money into local businesses that won’t be seeing it this year.

“Normally we’ll sell enough to at least break even before the festival, and everything during the festival would then be profit, but this year, as everyone’s shut down, it’s just not, not selling at all” says Scottie Gray, Owner of Winnsboro Sports Center.

His business makes shirts for the event each year, normally selling out. This year even had a special touch to it, modeled after LSU for their championship win.

“It’s a big part, and it was quite devastating with the recent events cancellation and it hurt, it hurt our business” says Gray.

He says he will continue to sell the shirts despite the closures, and will be selling them next year as well, as long as the festival doesn’t get cancelled again.

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