Bayou Teche Wooden Boat Show brings back classics
Classic antique watercraft will be on display along Parc sur la Teche
Wooden boat owners and enthusiasts will gather along historic and scenic Bayou Teche in downtown Franklin, Louisiana for the sixth Bayou Teche Wooden Boat Show set for April 15-17.
“It’s an idea that grew out of a breakfast table discussion at a local diner and has taken on a life of its own,” said co-organizer Roger Stouff. “We’re truly astounded at the growth and participation.”
Stouff, Gary Blum and Larry Couvillier began with 12 boats, half of which belonged to themselves, and the rest from both local residents and owners outside of St. Mary Parish. By the fifth show in 2014, participation had quadrupled, with boat owners from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama and more in attendance.
While this year’s show would have been the seventh event, the 2015 show was cancelled because of severe weather.
“Just plain distilled south Louisiana,” said Wayne Elliot of El Dorado, Arkansas. “Don’t miss it.”
The BTWBS has become one of the fastest-growing venues for wooden vessels both antique and modern in the Southeast, but has managed to remain a laid-back event held in conjunction with the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival, both set along Parc sur la Teche in Franklin. “There’s nothing else like it,” Stouff said. “Gary, Larry and I started all this to share our love of wooden watercraft with this community, people who might never have seen these vessels and their outstanding craftsmanship. We’ve succeeded beyond our wildest expectations.”
Walter Hansen, a builder, and his wife Nancy of League City, Texas, said they are “excited about returning to Bayou Teche for the wooden boat show. We especially loved the bateaus and the steam launch at the 2013 show and are looking forward to the beautiful and creative craft that will be shown this year.”
Past shows have featured hand-crafted Cajun skiffs and bateaus of cypress, wooden sailboats, classic Chris Craft, Garwood, Correct Craft, Lyman and Thompson runabouts, cypress pirogues and dugouts as well as many other varieties of boats from various regions of the United States and abroad. “It’s astounding to see the variety,” Stouff said. “It really makes you realize how much the history of much of the world has been molded by vessels made of wood, far longer than boats and ship have been constructed of any other material.”
“One of the highlights of spring is coming south to the wooden boat show and bear festival,” said builder Gene Lueg of Ruston, Louisiana. “It is a time of laid back relaxation and visiting fellow boating friends and craftsmen. There is a variety of boats from dugout canoes to live aboard river boats and luxury inboards. Of course we shouldn’t forget the Zydeco live band music and craft booths. A good time to be had by all.”
“This has become a ‘gotta-do event’ in the wooden boat inner circle,” Billy Sutton a classic boat owner and restorer out of Monterey, Louisiana, said. “It’s a type of hidden deep South treasure.”
The show begins Friday evening, April 15 and continues through Sunday. “Beautiful site along the Bayou Teche,” said Liz Michaels, of Mississippi, who shows her classic Thompson with husband Ron. “Great place to visit with other wooden boat enthusiasts and talk shop.”
Builder Carl Cheramie, of Monroe, said, “I enjoy studying the craftsmanship as well as talking with the other boat builders. I like picking their brains about their technique and how they overcome obstacles while building their respective boats.”
“We have been attending since the very first show and are so glad we made it,” said Mike Falgout of Metairie. “This show is the most relaxing and people friendly show we have ever attended. We go to all of the boat festivals, but we love the people and the beautiful setting. We will be there again this year and are looking forward to a great time.”
Jules Lambert of Baton Rouge is another participant who’s been with the BTWBS since the beginning. “The hospitality makes it one of the best shows. The organizers treat us like kings and I look forward to the show every year. The visitors that show up are typically very interested in the craft and not just walking by.”
Bayou Teche has recently been named an America’s Scenic Byway and part of the National Park Service Water Trails System.
Visit the BTWBS website at www.techeboatshow.com.