Ascension balloon festival slated for parish takeover
GONZALES- The Ascension Parish council approved a move to take over the balloon festival for the 2014 year and provide money from Lamar Dixon's marketing budget to cover losses from the 2013 festival.
The council agreed to move $100,000 from Lamar Dixon to cover a portion of the nearly $160,000 the festival lost last year.
"The board that created it, they pushed for it, the organizers that created it, they pushed for it, they thought it was gonna be a good event and now that it's lost money they want us to subsidize it, they're looking for a bailout like the banks," said Councilman Bryan Melancon, who represents the 10th district in Ascension.
"Every citizen that I talked to, although they loved the balloon festival, they thought it was a great event, they're not for their tax dollars paying for it," said Melancon.
A majority of the council thinks differently and hopes taking control of the event will help put a spotlight on the Lamar Dixon Expo Center.
"There are eight of us who feel strongly, that this is money well spent to expose Lamar Dixon to the region and entertain children and adults of all ages," said Councilwoman Teri Casso, who represents the 8th district.
Casso said once the parish takes over the festival, they will have tighter reigns and likely invite fewer balloons to cut some costs. She hopes to make it profitable again, or at least break even.
"That's the goal, to do it one more year in 2014 and see if we can make it successful," said Casso.
Casso told WBRZ News 2, if the Balloon Festival doesn't make money next year, the recommendation is to let it fold.