Community drops in at Sunshine Festival

DeRon Talley
Two boys look at each other while being pulled to the to of the “Drop Zone” ride at the Sunshine Festival Sunday.

When the carnival comes to town, all the kids gather with smiles. There's family, fun and food all in one place with the games and rides to enjoy at one's own pace. This year, Jerry Chauvin and Debbie Roques of the city of Donaldsonville's Chamber of Commerce chaired the successful Sunshine Festival that brought community together for the weekend and they truly did an excellent job in making it a success, according to Allison B. Hudson, President of the Chamber.

Eight-year-old Jalyn Payton said she had fun at the festival and showed a lot of excitement when she got off of her favorite ride, the Sea Dragon. Her mother has been bringing her just about every year and she looks forward to coming back next year. Her favorite thing to do at the festival other than ride the Sea Dragon, she said the games because she wins prizes.

The games offer chances to win big prizes, and it isn't a surprise that Payton would be fascinated most with that. However, Angel Valais had a different thought on the festival.

"I've been coming since I was small and it's an every year thing that we really enjoy," Valais said, mother of one son. "We get to see everybody we know and we like riding all the rides. My son enjoys the rides a lot."

With the games and rides being the favorites of things to do at the festival, some of the community expressed displeasure with the prices to enjoy them. The prices have increased over the years and some say that it can start to impact the turnout from the surrounding communities who used to attend. The idea of having an event like this in Donaldsonville is a good thing, but the cost to do is straining the pockets of the lower-income families who may have three or four children, all who want to enjoy rides. Even with the price increase, they still find ways to come out for one of Donaldsonville's biggest events.

Sixteen-year-old Niesha Brooks has been coming to the festival for as long as she could remember and now that she's a teenager she realizes the biggest changes she's seen over the years was just the price increase.

"Five dollars for one ride isn't cutting it and $25 for the bracelet either," Brooks said, who is a student at Ascension Catholic High School.

Despite the rides being too pricy for her, she said she still was able to get on about three rides and she really likes the atmosphere the festival brings to the community. Hudson said next year the Chamber will look to incorporate a band or something extra for the teenagers.

"The Sunshine Festival is our biggest fundraiser," Hudson said. "The weather was great and we saw a lot of people come out. I want to thank everyone who came out and enjoyed themselves. There were some new rides added this year and it talking to a few people, they loved them."

Hudson added, "I want to thank Jerry Chauvin and Debbie Roques for all of their hard work for the festival."