Swamp Stomp structure to be reconsidered next year

Nicholls State University is reconsidering the structure of the Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival to fit within the University mission while continuing to meet the educational needs of the area.

A committee of different people and organizations on campus with an interest in preserving the culture of South Louisiana has been putting on the event for the past six years. The committee will work on getting the college of education to sponsor the children’s program. The committee will also find out if the Bayou Studies Center can take on the program itself.

“We have new administration, but I think that Swamp Stomp is something very important. If we don’t have that anymore, Nicholls would lose something special because we are supporting a certain group of people,” Anke Tonn, co-chair of the festival and library co-director, said. “It’s all connected.”

Brenda Haskins, co-chair of the festival and director of auxiliary services, said that she hopes local people will leave the festival feeling proud to be from Louisiana.

“I hope they will be proud of this festival, and that they want to support our university and all the cultural events that we put on each year,” Haskins said.

Tonn said the music and uniqueness of South Louisiana inspired her to develop the festival.

“The older generations of this area kept traditions going, which is wonderful because everyone is included and embraced,” Tonn said. “They dance together, sing together, eat together and their friendships are so wonderful. We have to keep the culture alive because a culture like that should not disappear.”

Haskins said the committee hopes to pass the culture on to younger generations so they can keep it alive.

“We all love different aspects of the festival and of our culture,” Haskins said. “We all have things that we want people, especially our students, to take interest in.”

The festival will feature 14 bands, free dance lessons, concessions, crafts and different speakers from Friday to Sunday. Tresors du Bayou will be offered on Friday to educate the public about life on Bayou Lafourche throughout history. The 5K Can-Can, One Mile White Boot Waddle and gumbo cook-off will be featured on Saturday.

“There will be a variety of education there, which is very important,” Tonn said.

The festival will be open to the public and costs $10 a day or $25 for a weekend pass. Student Programming Association and Student Government Association are sponsors of the event, and allow Nicholls students to get in free with their colonel cards.

“It’s like a family day,” Brent Parks, business administration junior from Houma, said. “It’s a great place to bring your Cajun grandparents.”

Haskins said that about 600 people came to the festival during the first year. The event has grown over the past six years and Haskins hopes that attendance will reach 4000 people this year. Haskins said that about 60 percent of people who attend come from 40 miles away or further.

“I like how many people come to Swamp Stomp, especially how many people came from a couple hours away,” Jacob Prestenbach, accounting junior from Houma, said. “The event is just all around really organized and it made a really good name for itself.”

Haskins said that receiving feedback is an important part of the festival.

“We did a lot of surveying and found that about 97 percent of people said they would rate the festival as good or excellent, and they would recommend it to someone else.”

Haskins said there have been many memorable occasions that took place at the event.

“I remember this one time when an older man started crying and told me ‘Thank you for saving our music,’” Haskins said. “He just wanted to thank somebody for having this festival and preserving the music. It was really touching and I’ll never forget that.”

The festival will be held on March 20-22.