By Betsy Swenson
Tammany West news
MANDEVILLE–A Mandeville 4th of July tradition will continue this year as a Covington-based firm gears up to introduce a new Mandeville City Seafood Festival at Fontainebleau State Park.
For the past 35 years, the Greater Mandeville Seafood Association has overseen the Mandeville Seafood Festival, but the group announced in March they would no longer be producing the event. The GMSA board cited a loss of both sponsorships and revenue in a tough economic climate as reasons for discontinuing the festival.
Nick Chetta Jr. of Chetta Productions in Covington was in his hospital bed recovering from spinal surgery when he heard the festival had been canceled. The post-surgery meds had clouded his mind, he said, and he felt sure he had imagined the news. After his release from the hospital, Chetta contacted Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere to confirm what he had heard, that the Mandeville Seafood Festival was no more.
“I said, ‘Donald, I’m imagining this, right? The Seafood Fest cannot be canceled!'” Chetta recalled. Upon learning the news was true, Chetta said, “This can’t happen.”
So Chetta and his team got to work gathering sponsors and booking bands for a new seafood festival to continue the tradition, and the Mandeville City Seafood Festival was born. Just like the festival of years past, the City Seafood Fest will be held July 4-6 at Fontainebleau State Park.
Bands performing at the festival include local favorites such as Four Unplugged, Bag of Donuts, Bucktown Allstars, and Cheeweez. Also taking the stage will be the BIG FUN Brass Band, Supercharger, Rick Sampson Band, and Bon Journeys.
Chetta said, along with music, the festival will feature an abundance of food, crafts and activities for children.
“I’m not having what you would call carnival rides or things like that,” he said. “I call that a fair. What we’re doing is kind of going back to the way it was in the beginning, and I’m excited about that.”
It usually takes about six to eight months to gather sponsors for a festival of this size, said Chetta, but his team is making it happen in less than half that time. They have many large sponsors on board, such as Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch, but Chetta said they are always looking for more.
“You can never have enough sponsors,” he said.
Chetta’s daughter, Nichole Chetta, also with Chetta Productions, says she is excited about the festival and anticipates it will be a success.
“I’ve gone to the [Mandeville Seafood Festival] my entire life, and when it was cancelled I was devastated,” she said. “We want to give Mandeville what it deserves, and the Mandeville people what they deserve, and that’s a festival. It’s about family and friends and having fun.”