Plans for new Arcade unveiled

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

FERRIDAY &8212; While Fats Domino and Doug Kershaw were the stars of Saturday&8217;s Delta Music Festival, plans for the renovation of the Arcade Theater gave visitors something to look forward to in years to come.

Festival organizer Judith Bingham said the architectural plans for the 1920s-era theater&8217;s renovation would be sent by the architect to the state&8217;s Office of Facility Planning and Control by the end of the month.

&8220;They are the ones who decide if the plans are OK and when we can build it,&8221; she said.

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In its 2005 summer session, the Louisiana Legislature approved nearly $500,000 for the building, which is the property of the museum, to be transformed into a performing arts facility.

In the meantime, Bingham and the festival&8217;s organizing committee hope the yearly event will continue to grow.

Even though Fats Domino wasn&8217;t feeling well enough to attend his induction ceremony into the Delta Music Hall of Fame, plenty of people took advantage of the nice weather and family atmosphere, Bingham said.

And while she didn&8217;t have a firm headcount on attendance figures, Bingham estimated close to 6,000 people came through the gates at some point during the day.

It was a number Louis Morris, the museums coordinator for the Secretary of State&8217;s office, said he agreed with.

&8220;I think it was tremendous success,&8221; he said. &8220;It&8217;s become a much anticipated annual event for the Miss-Lou area.&8221;

Morris and Bingham felt like the day&8217;s headliner, Doug Kershaw, did well in drawing and entertaining, the crowd.

&8220;He did a grand job,&8221; Bingham said. &8220;He mingled with the crowd, signed autographs and talked to everybody. And the New Beats really took you back to the late 1950s and early &8217;60s.&8221;

From a financial perspective, Bingham said the festival committee would meet in a few weeks to discuss the numbers, and start planning next year&8217;s festival.

&8220;We don&8217;t know because there are still some bills out there that haven&8217;t come in yet,&8221; she said.

The festival is funded as well as produced by the Friends of the Delta Music Museum Foundation. The foundation handles all of the financial aspects but receives promotional help from the Secretary of State&8217;s office.

Bingham said they also receive invaluable help from the many community volunteers who give up not only their day to work the festival but weeks before to help with planning.

Another key to putting the plan into action is the help of the local government and law enforcement.

&8220;If not for the Town of Ferriday and the police and fire departments and Sheriff Randy Maxwell for lending us the inmates to help with the setup and trash, we would really be in trouble trying to have a festival,&8221; she said.