Cotton Festival Association President Derouselle tells Rotary he is retiring
Pat Derouselle was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Ville Platte and said he is retiring after this year as president of the Cotton Festival Association.
“I told my board three years ago that I would be preparing to retire, and this year will be my last year,” Derouselle said. “I will be on the advisory committee.”
Derouselle, who turned 55-years-old two weeks ago retired from DOTD after working 34 years and currently serves on the Evangeline Parish Solid Waste Commission.
He said, “I’ve been working in the public all my life, and I haven’t done anything for me yet. I don’t hunt. I don’t fish. My job was always raising my family, so I’ll be looking for hobbies.”
Derouselle continued, “People are already calling me and asking me to get into politics. Politics is too ugly. I prefer serving. When I get tired, I can say I don’t want to do that and don’t talk to me like that.”
Derouselle has been working with the Cotton Festival for over 30 years and has been serving as president for the last 17 years.
His first major problem as president was getting the festival back into the city from its previous location on the Whiteville Road.
“We had to get back into the city because all of our kids are in town,” Derouselle said. “The families wanted it locally so they could run and pick up their kids.”
“That was a big task, but it was taken care of,” he continued. “I was thankful for Mayor Bennett Baquet. We sat down, and I told him point blank at his desk that if we didn’t move into the city then it would be done.”
Moving into the city also allowed to alleviate parking problems at the previous location. “People were bogging out there, and it was just going to continue,” Derouselle stated. “You either had the rain or the dust. Then you had to fight with the carnival because they couldn’t set up or couldn’t open or couldn’t park cars. People were parking on the shoulders. People were parking in the neighborhoods, and people were mad about that.”
Another issue Derouselle had to address as president was the carnival itself.
“I promised the community we would have a new carnival,” he said. “We did, and it took us a year to get them. I’ve always told the public if I don’t feel comfortable for my children there then I don’t want your children there either. People have noticed the difference.”
Derouselle stated 22 festivals across the state such as the Oyster Festival and Yambilee Festival are no longer held. He and his board have always worked to keep the Cotton Festival alive and going because, as he said, “in the festival business, once you lose it you never get it back.”
What has kept the Cotton Festival going, according to Derouselle, is sticking to traditions such as Le Contradanse and sending its queen to the D.C. Mardi Gras.
“It’s come a long way, and we accomplished some great things in the last 17 years,” Derouselle concluded. “I want to ask for your continued support and for the young families to stay in town and support your festival.”