Ferriday wows judges with attitude, music

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FERRIDAY — If there was ever any doubt about how excited the Town of Ferriday and Ferriday Garden Club members were about the Cleanest City Contest, it was put to rest Tuesday when judges arrived for the state-level evaluation.

The judges were escorted into town by police and fire officials, met by cheering high school students and serenaded at a welcome reception.

The judges for the Louisiana Garden Club Federation, Inc., Cleanest City Contest spent Tuesday afternoon touring a route that included municipal properties, businesses and residential areas to see Ferriday’s efforts to clean up the town.

Ferriday won the district competition for similarly-sized cities and is now in the running against Amite City and Arcadia to take home the state cleanest city contest title.

Cleanest city organizer and Ferriday Garden Club member Lena Bateman said today was one day the town could relax because she knew the volunteers had worked hard in preparation for the judging.

“We had so much more involvement from the entire community,” Bateman said. “I know how hard everyone worked, and we feel good about what we were able to do.”

Ferriday Garden Club President Sherrill Sasser said she is hopeful about Ferriday’s chances of winning the state competition, but said the competition is about more than bringing home a title.

“We want to make people aware of what is around them so they don’t just throw trash out,” she said. “We want to change people’s attitude.”

Bateman said that starts as early as elementary school. The club did a poster contest at Ferriday Upper Elementary School to support the Cleanest City Contest and Ferriday Lower Elementary students took a field trip around town to pick up trash.

“You have to start early to create clean habits and to teach them that it is not OK to throw trash on the ground or out the window,” she said.

Judges look for litter, well maintained grassy areas, neat lawns and a general clean appearance, Cleanest City Contest judge Barbara Coats, of Epps, La., said. Judges view a scrapbook assembled by the club to illustrate the amount of community involvement during the clean up process.

“Litter is a big priority,” she said. “We like to see clean streets and litter free areas.”

Judge Sue Wallner of Denham Springs, La., said the contest was about creating a pride in citizens to keep the town clean even after the contest judging is over.

“My parents always told me not to litter and we are trying to bring that same attention to litter problems now,” she said. “It is an effort to get every city in Louisiana to pick up its trash.”

The contest has been in existence for more than 50 years. Louisiana is the only state to have a cleanest city competition, Coats said.

“Even a town that doesn’t win, is a winner because they did something,” she said.

This is Ferriday’s second year to compete in the contest. Last year, the town finished third out of four teams in the district. This year they beat Farmerville and Jonesboro in the district competition.

Ferriday was the first city in its category to be judged for the state competition. The others will be judged next week by the same panel of judges and a winner could be announced as early as next Friday, Bateman said.