As the Krewe of Lul rolls again after a year’s absence later this month, the outreach and networking festival established to coincide with it makes its return as well.
On Feb. 26, the Luling Parade Festival will take place from noon to 5 p.m. at the Thrift Village parking lot on Paul Maillard Road in Luling. University of Miami football star LaRon Byrd and the Louisiana Workforce Commission are sponsoring the festival, which spotlights community outreach programs and provides business exposure to members of the community.
The event is intended to raise awareness of services and opportunities in the community that residents may not know are available, such as those related to finances, marketing and promotion of business. The aforementioned business exposure comes directly, as more than 20 investors will be in attendance to lend an ear to local entrepreneurs.
Before the festival launched for its first edition in 2020, it was put together quickly – a straightforward idea with people coming together around it to make it happen, Byrd said. Two years later – the COVID pandemic eliminated the event from consideration in 2021 – he said coordinators have hit their stride and that this year’s festival will have more to offer visitors.
“This time, it’s way more organized and better overall than the first year,” Byrd said. “The first time we did it, we wanted to focus on keeping it Mardi Gras themed, a lot of food vendors and some informational booths there as well. We’re more complete this time … we’ve got food, arts and crafts, info tables, beauty and grooming … it’s more spread out.”
A lot of the motivation behind the event comes down to spreading the word about opportunities many don’t realize are available in St. Charles Parish.
“I remember the workforce commission telling us about all the great programs we had here, and I had no idea. I had never heard of any of it,” Byrd said. “Never until 2020. There is so much being offered here, and then you start to look at it like, ‘How can we get this out there for people to know about it,’” Byrd said.
But while those with an eye on growing an existing business, or planting the seeds for a new one could find a clearer direction on Feb. 26, Byrd also hopes to see many parents along with sons and daughters attend, so local youths can see what is possible, and not just something to dream on one day.
“You’d like them to see that you have to start somewhere, right?” Byrd said. “Be it your business in St. Charles Parish, or New Orleans, wherever it might be, this is all a process. You’re putting your product and your services out there for the public.”
And for those adults who are getting the ball rolling on a business, much information can be found at the festival.
“It’s all about encouraging businesses. Yes, you have that pop-up shop, but how can we build from that? It’s access to learn about business credit and loan … it’s valuable information, and it’s all in a comfortable setting, in your community, to help you grow,” Byrd said.
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