Ferriday Aldermen to address business owner’s concerns about ‘outrageous and obscene behavior’ on public property

Published 1:20 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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FERRIDAY, La. — The Ferriday Mayor and Board of Aldermen will address a business owner’s complaint about “outrageous and obscene behavior” occurring on public property during a social event at its next meeting.

The host of the event in question, Rashonda Brown, said she was invited to the meeting by council members to address the concerns. The regular meeting takes place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, at Ferriday Hall.

Anna Brakenridge Ferguson, who owns Brakenridge Furniture Co. at 506 Louisiana Ave. in Ferriday, shared a letter on social media last week addressed to the board regarding a social gathering that took place Sunday, April 23, at a public facility.

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Ferguson said her letter to Aldermen is not about the gathering but about public intoxication and accidents that resulted from it that, she says, create bad publicity for Ferriday.

“This is not about the brunch,” Ferguson said. “It’s time to address a problem and we want business entrepreneurs and investors to know that Ferriday is here and open for business.

It’s a great town and great people.”

That particular Sunday, Brown said she had been hosting her monthly brunch at Haney’s Big House at 10 Greathouse St. Brown said she has held the event monthly for a year without any issues made known to her. The event, “Baddies Do Brunch,” advertises breakfast plates and bottomless mimosas for $30 per person at Haney’s Big House.

Haney’s Big House, owned by the town of Ferriday, is often leased for private events.

“I can do everything right, but if the town is going to allow outrageous and obscene behavior on public property, as occurred last Sunday, none of what I have done right will matter,” Ferguson’s letter to the board states. “I can travel all over the country and work hard with designers to make sure that we have high-quality and beautiful inventory, but it will not matter if my customers are afraid to drive through town because gunshots are being fired in the middle of the day.”

Brown said she is baffled at why the complaint was aimed at her gathering.

“I’ve never had any issues or heard of any issues,” she said. “I’m not quite sure what the issue even is. I’ve been doing this for a year — one year exactly on the 23rd (of April).”

Brown said she hired food vendors and a vendor licensed to serve alcohol for the brunch between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. She estimates between 350 to 400 people attended.

“I also hired security, which is not in the contract, but for the safety of the people who are coming,” she said.

When social media commentators questioned Ferguson about what offended her about the gathering, she said a video had been circulating on social media of an intoxicated woman relieving herself in front of Ferriday Hall while others laughed. She also said she was concerned about the partygoers drinking and driving and violating open container law and the event taking place on a Sunday within the vicinity of churches having services.

Ferriday Police Chief Sam King agreed, “There are some things happening that that shouldn’t take place,” he said, citing four automobile accidents potentially related to intoxicated driving that had occurred on that particular Sunday, which he said, “may be linked to that gathering.”

Two of the accidents happened in Vidalia and two were outside town limits in Concordia Parish, King said.

King said he also saw a video of a woman relieving herself by a tree. However, no criminal charges were filed specifically tied to the brunch, he added.

Brown said nothing illegal happened on the property.

“I’m not sure what any of that has to do with the brunch,” she said. “I have no control over what someone does when they leave the establishment.”

Brown said the event she hosted was a positive thing for Ferriday.

“I have built this starting off with as little as 50 to 75 people to what it has become,” she said. “I’m trying to figure out why the negativity is being brought to something that is positive. … I felt why I would go somewhere out of town to spend money when I could create the same kind of atmosphere right here at home. It’s bringing positivity and light into the city.”