Ragin' Cajun good time
A small-town Louisiana music festival raises more than $500,000 for St. Jude kids.
Love of music and gratitude for good health are two essential ingredients in the recipe for a successful Cajun music festival that has raised more than $500,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Cajun Woodstock began in Church Point, La., in 2003, started by Steve Carriere, his son J.C. and Damian Cormier who are all members of a local Cajun band, J.C. Carriere and Hotstep.
We always wanted to do something for the kids, and we agreed on St. Jude. Fifteen years later, we are stronger and getting bigger every year.
In its first year, the one-day festival raised $7,500 for St. Jude. Since then, Cajun Woodstock has grown to a two-day festival that offers performances by eight Cajun bands, a 5K Color Run, a Poker Run, live and silent auctions, a round steak cook-off and other family-friendly activities.
The event, which also serves up delicious Cajun food, such as crawfish etouffee and barbecued boudin, raised $50,000 this year, bringing the event total to more than $500,000 over 15 years. Carriere credits the festival’s success to the dedicated volunteers and numerous local sponsors who make it possible. “I’m proud of my family and friends,” he said.
Cajun Woodstock draws 3,000 to 6,000 people annually to Church Point, a town of just 5,000, and is such an important local tradition that the official city website includes it as one of the area’s main attractions. “For a small town, we have a lot of support,” he said.
J.C. Carrier and Hotstep performs at the Cajun Woodstock Festival.
Members of the event committee also travel to Memphis each year to cook a big gumbo meal for St. Jude families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis, which is dedicated to housing St. Jude patient families. During that visit, the group delivers non-perishable items collected through the Church Point community to the facility’s food pantry.
Carriere cites one simple reason for his commitment to St. Jude: “I have two children of my own, two stepdaughters and seven, soon-to-be-eight grandchildren and a great granddaughter. And they are all healthy. That is the sole reason why I do it.”