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Troy Landry excites crowd in Natchez at Relay fundraiser

NATCHEZ — Cars filled the Sports Center parking lot Saturday, people from all over the Miss-Lou gathered and lines with dozens of “Swamp People” fans snaked around the tents.

Troy Landry was in town. He was here to support the Miss-Lou Relay for Life and to meet and greet some of his biggest fans.

The event was scheduled to start at 11 a.m., but Landry was already signing autographs and taking pictures by 10:45 and many of his fans had already been there an hour.

Nicole Bell was first in line.

“(I) love the show,” Bell said. “I was the first one here. It’s a good fundraising event and using Troy gets kids out here, too.”

Landry, one of the stars from the History Channel’s “Swamp People,” drove three hours Saturday morning to make it to town for the event, he said.

“Well, it’s for a good cause. A good friend of mine asked me to come and you know you gotta go out of your way for something like this because it’s for a real good cause,” Landry said.

“I always enjoy doing something like this.”

Landry offered a genuinely warm greeting to each of his fans that came to meet him. Often he would call out his catch phrase as the picture was being taken, saying, “Choot em’ camera lady.”

He also offered up some advice for the Miss-Lou gator-hunting community.

“Alligator hunting is just like hunting deer or anything else, you just gotta know the terrain real good,” Landry said.

“The big ones always have hiding places, you’re not gonna catch the big ones where you’re gonna catch the little average alligators, the little young ones. The big ones are that big by being smart and staying away from hunters and boat traffic and you have to learn where their hiding places are at.”

Shane Seyfarth, a Natchez resident, who is currently fighting his own bout with cancer, was there to meet Landry, as well.

“It’s good for him to come up here and do this,” Seyfarth said. “Not a lot of people would come to a hometown thing like this.

“I love (Relay for Life). Until you get cancer or know someone that has it you don’t (really understand), but once you get it your outlook changes.”

Fans of all ages came out to get autographed pictures and get their pictures taken with the “Swamp People” star.

“I work down in South Louisiana and he’s real popular down there so I just wanted to come out and meet him,” Bryan Bullock of Natchez said.

The Boudreaux family from Centreville made it out to meet Landry as well.

“The family wanted to see him, he’s real popular,” 15-year-old Byron Boudreaux said.

“My husband is from Napoleanville, La., and the kids go swimming in Lake Verret,” Byron’s mother Carolyn said. “And I told them you are never going in that lake again (because of all the alligators).”

Mayor Jake Middleton was even on hand to welcome Landry to Natchez, he said.

“I’m a big supporter of Relay for Life. I’m a cancer survivor myself,” Middleton said.

“Events like this are very important as cancer affects everybody.”

Middleton also spoke of his work with alligators at Leroy Percy State Park.

“I used to fool around with gators myself in my younger days,” Middleton said.

All the money raised from the selling of shirts, autograph pictures and pictures with Landry will go to Relay for Life. As will the money raised from the $10, Cajun lunches that were served and the $5 and $10 entry fees for the turkey call competition.

The Sports Center crew that helped bring the whole event together was happy about the way it went, said store manager Wyatt Craig.

“The turnout is good and we are pleased with it,” Craig said. “We have good weather and it is good for the community. (Relay for Life) is a pretty important part of Natchez and this is a good deal for everybody. We hope everybody just has a good time.”

Another key person in bringing Landry to Natchez was his long-time friend Scott Settoon, of Settoon Construction.

“Me and Troy grew up together,” Settoon said. “We went to school together.

“(Events like this) are special, you can tell by the lines. I do a lot of them and I support it 100 percent.”

Although lines continued to form around Landry all day, he was not the only attraction at Saturday’s event.

The authentic Cajun meal, served by cooks from Landry’s hometown, Pierre Part, La., drew interest too. The cooks stirred up massive pots of jambalaya using boat oars and served them with a roll and a slice of pie.

There was also live music by the Back Roads Band.

Since it was the opening day of turkey season there were a lot of events centered around turkey hunting. There was a competition for the largest turkey kill of the day, a competition for longest turkey beard of the day and also a turkey call competition.

One of the judges for the turkey call competition was three-time natural call world champion Troy Wheat, who also performed his animal imitations.

Landry was just glad to be able to help the cause, and see all the outdoorsmen and ladies of the Miss-Lou, he said.

“Man, get out in the outdoors, bring your kids and your grandkids outside every chance you get. Take ‘em out, whether they are at a park, or canoeing, hunting of fishing, just take ‘em out every chance you get and bring ‘em to the outdoors.”

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