CROWLEY, LA -- This past weekend, all things rice were celebrated at the International Rice Festival here in the “Rice Capital of the World.” And if you’ve never experienced it, you need to. You don’t have to be a rice farmer, rice miller, or work in the rice industry, but if you love rice, music, and having a great time, you’ll be right at home.
Each October since 1937, people from all walks of life, young and old, from across the nation and around the world, descend on Crowley to enjoy the festivities and local hospitality dedicated to celebrating the rice industry. Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, attended the Rice Festival in 1959, with their sights set on the White House. (That year the Farmer of the Year was Mr. Paul Loewer, father of our own Jackie Loewer who was a senior in high school at the time!) The point is, you never know who you might see at the Rice Festival.
This year, USA Rice Vice President of Domestic Promotion and Communications Michael Klein made his first visit to the festival, and I’m sure it won’t be his last.
In addition to all the festivities, there are some outstanding events that highlight the true reason for celebrating this industry for so many years. The annual Chef de Riz (Rice Chef) cooking contest is a coveted title for the top rice dish across all categories. Once a Chef de Riz, always a Chef de Riz, and that distinction now belongs to Laurie Bellard of Lafayette.
The same holds true for the Festival honorees such as Junior Farmer of the Year, Jake Reiners; Farmer of the Year, Alan Lawson; Rice Festival Honoree, the Thibodeaux Ag Group including Randy, Dale, Steve, Ross, and Eric Thibodeaux; and of course, the 83rd International Rice Festival Queen, Jimi Madison Joubert.
In passing on the crown to the new queen, 82nd International Rice festival Queen Victoria Marie Callahan recalled highlights from her reign, and gave special thanks to her “USA Rice family” and the Rice Millers’ Association for their support and the opportunity to represent the rice industry throughout the year at 108 events and festivals!
“I’ve seen pictures of the International Rice Festival and heard reports, but actually being there was an experience like no other,” said USA Rice’s Klein. “Rice and rice culture was honored at every turn - from the recipe contest that had more than 150 entries, to the multiple parades that featured floats made of rice; and from visiting with old rice friends and making new ones to the always blockbuster hospitality of Louisiana, there is no place I would have rather been and I’ve marked my calendar for next year already!”
Pictures from the 2019 IRF