GIRARD — Cajun fiddle and the smell of jambalaya will fill the air of the Crawford County Fairgrounds Saturday as the Cajun Fest IV fundraiser kicks off.
Cajun Fest was started in 2014 by First National Bank of Girard President John Lehman and three friends, Dr. Adam Paoni, John Kovacic and Lehman’s cousin, Jay Parson. When they party they hosted was successful enough to earn a profit, the friends created a scholarship through the USD 248 Education Foundation.
“All the money we make after expenses — like the chef or performers — goes to the scholarship,” Lehman said. “We’ve awarded over $10,000 to students since the fest started.”
The group brings in a chef for each festival to serve a dinner of authentic cajun food. This year, Chef David Eastridge will be preparing jambalaya. Eastridge won a jambalaya competition in Louisiana in 2015.
Other food served will include Mardi Gras wings, crawfish and more.
“We’ve never run out of food yet,” Lehman said. “But that’s always our goal.”
A $25 donation pays for entry as well as access to all the music and food.
Music this year will be provided by the Shane Duling Band — a local group — followed by Waylon Thibodeaux, a Louisiana fiddle player.
Tickets for the event are available at all four Girard banks, as well as at the gate the night of the festival. The meal begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Crawford County Fairgrounds, and music will go until midnight.
“The fairgrounds were kind of a quagmire last weekend,” Lehman said. “But we are set up and ready to go rain or shine.”
Folks attending Cajun Fest are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and a beverage of their choice.
Lehman said people come in from all over the region, with attendees from Tulsa, Springfield and more.
“It’s just good, clean fun and great music,” he said.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.