Madisonville Prepares for Boatload of Fun

(MADISONVILLE, La.) The town of Madisonville will host its 27th annual Wooden Boat Festival Oct. 13-15, an event drawing crowds from all over the gulf coast to experience local cuisine, art, hand-built boats, classic cars and, of course, antique wooden boats.

“I’ve been going to the festival for as long as I can remember,” Madisonville resident Dylan Veal said. “There’s rides, boat building and a huge array of antique cars and wooden boats. Also, the food is unbeatable.”

Wooden boat owners sail their boats from all over the gulf coast to participate in the festival and judging.  Boats entered in the competition range from 16 foot skiffs like “Elliot” all the way to 65 foot cabin cruisers like “Lone Wolf,” who was one of the winners of the festival in 2016.  The age of the vessels also drastically differs — some boats are almost 100 years old, but many others (mostly those built at the Madisonville Maritime Museum) were finished only a few years ago.

65 foot cabin cruiser “Lone Wolf” was one of the winners at the 2016 Wooden Boat Festival. (Photo:
“Elliot,” a 16 foot skiff, appeared at the 2016 Wooden Boat Festival. (Photo:

Nevertheless, there is much more to do at the Wooden Boat Festival than simply view boats.  The festival is also home to an extensive classic car show allowing local owners to show off and share their cars.

Food and beverages are not hard to find at the festival either with over 20 food vendors including Copeland’s, Mellow Mushroom, Rouses and many more.  Furthermore, this year the festival will also include a craft Beer Garden.

The festival is also famous for its “Quick ‘n’ Dirty” boat building contest and race.  Teams who enter have 14 hours to build a wooden boat only with the materials provided for them. The next day, the teams then participate in a 100m half sailing, half rowing race in the middle of the Tchefuncte River.

“I’ve been coming to the festival for years, and the race always draws a big crowd, usually to watch the boats sink,” Veal said.

The festival also offers activities for children at the St. Tammany Wood Workers Guild tent. Here, children will be provided with the materials to make their own model wooden boat for no charge.

“(St. Tammany Wood Workers) spend an entire year making the pieces and parts the children will use to make their boats” said Louise Saenz of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum.

Some of the 2016 “Quick ‘n’ Dirty” participants preparing for the race. (Photo:

The festival’s wide array of entertainment and activities make it an ideal destination for the whole family.


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