It all began back in 1979 when the St. Charles Rotary Club, looking for a money-making event for its charitable purposes, started the Alligator Festival. It was held in the driveway-entrance of Willowdale Country Club but soon advanced to more appropriate areas of the parish.
Now it is an annual event at the West Bank Bridge Park and has proved its popularity with the people these many years. It has made them want to eat alligator meat and go gator hunting.
And what used to provide mainly a material for winter coat luxury evolved into a touristy attraction that brings people into the swamplands of southeastern Louisiana to inspect the living conditions of one of our most colorful reptiles. It also is the subject of a popular TV series named “Swamp People” which shows with great reality what those conditions are like.
The show actually shows viewers what it is like to hunt alligators and wets their appetite for the experience. And for some it leads them to our parish.
The alligator has created somewhat of an industry comprised of food production and boat tours that bring visitors almost face to face with one of the most fascinating creatures of the world. As a result, professional hunters have benefitted greatly.
The price of alligator meat has risen from $3 a pound a few years ago to $10 a pound this year. Alligator skins have gone up from $7.50 a foot to $27 a foot.
As a result, alligator hunters and boat tours in the bayous of Louisiana have increased greatly. The people of our state have been as imaginative as people anywhere in developing our local attractions. And the alligator is one of them. St. Charles Parish is made up of 85 percent wetlands and alligators are among its more interesting inhabitants. We must make sure they remain a part of it.