History of the
Erath 4th of July Celebration
By Robert B. Vincent
June 27, 2005
Revised April 16, 2015
Erath started celebrating the Erath 4th of July Celebration
in 1936. The festial was founded by Roy R. Theriot and
originated as a fundraiser for Erath High School. In 1937, the New Orleans
Times Picayune newspaper
published an article
about the Erath Independence Day Fete. The article
stated that the event was sponsored jointly by the Erath 4th
of July Association and the Erath High School Alumni
Association. Roy Theriot was the general manager of the
celebration, and all money earned benefited Erath High
School. (A 1938
article was also published). A
June 11, 1939 New Orleans Times Picayune article
announced that Edward Landry had been named general chairman
of the Erath 4th of July Celebration. The celebration was
described as one of Louisiana’s major Fourth of July
Celebrations, and included a street fair, parade, speakers,
and a dance at the Erath High School Auditorium.
The celebration continued during World War II under the
direction of Edward Landry and the Erath Lions Club. In
1946, returing veteran Roy Theriot began serving as the
President and and Curney Dronet as the Parade
Chairman. Theriot and Dronet worked in conjunction with the
Erath Lions Club and the Erath American Legion to plan the festival.
Throughout the late 1940’s and 1950’s, the festival was
run by the area merchants as a way to promote Erath, and
thereby bring more business to Erath. The Erath merchants
would contribute money each year to stage the festival.
Several Erath residents that were instrumental in the early
success of the festival included: B.J. Gary, Marion
Boudreaux, Johnny Suire, Edward Suire, K.A. Bolner, J.P.
Landry, Leo Bernard, Sulie Dubois, Emmett Bares, J.D.
Vincent, Inez LeBlanc Vincent, Neuby LeBlanc, Fred Dugas,
Wilton “Belu” Sonnier, Lee Bernard, and Curney Dronet.
In the early 1962, Dr. Leroy Suire and his wife, Elvie, along
with Richard Dubois, Wilton “Belu” Sonnier, and Eddie Shiner
took over the operation of the festival. John Earl LeBlanc
was elected President around 1964, and served for several
years. Les Travailleuses took over the organization of the
Erath 4th of July Celebration in 1972. This local women’s
organization ran the festival until 1975.
Two people that played an integral part in the Erath 4th of
July Celebration throughout the years were Richard Dubois
and Relie LeBlanc. Both men were involved in the
organization, off and on, since the 1950’s. One of the
events that the two men used to stage on the day of July 4th
was the go kart races. South Broadway Street was closed the
morning of the 4th, and all telephone poles and fire
hydrants were covered with hay to protect the participants.
Go kart races were then held up and down Broadway Street.
Later on that day, the area fire departments would
participate in the waterfights. For many years, the special
contests were held following the waterfights. These contest
included the watermelon and cracker eating contest, which
are still held along with the potato relays, and the greasy
pole contest, which is no longer held.
Erath 4th of July
In 1976, the Erath 4th of July Association was incorporated,
and has been in charge of the festival ever since. The
incorporators included: Eddie Shiner, Richard Dubois,
Dolores Dubois, Florence Sonnier, Ernest Pillette, Mary
Suire, Leonce J. Lemaire, Ulysse Menard, David Dronet,
Theodore Bares, Velma Sonnier, Grace Bares, and Hilda Faulk.
The original board was made up of representatives of the
different local civic organizations, including: the American
Legion, Baseball Park, Catholic Daughters, Erath Fire
Department, Jaycees, Knights of Columbus, and Les
Travailleuses. Presidents of the Erath 4th of July
Association have included Richard Dubois, Bill Comeaux, Tony
Boquer, Monica Granger Calvert, Norris Bouillion, Claudette
Lacour, Mark Mencacci, Elwood Lacour, and Robert B. Vincent.
When the Erath 4th of July Association was incorporated
in 1976, it was decided that the money raised would be used
to help the Erath community. The members of the Association
agreed that the Erath community was in desperate need of a
community building, where receptions, meetings, and parties
could be held. The Board decided that building such a
building would be the first project to be financed by the
money raised by the festival. It took the Association eleven
years, but the Erath Community Building was opened in 1987.
Flo Sonnier was the treasurer during the time that the money
was raised to build the building, and ensured that no money
was wasted. The Community Building continues to operate
today under the direction of the Erath Community Building
Association, which receives its funds from the rental of the
building. However, the Erath 4th of July Association
continues to finance major capital improvements to the
The Erath 4th of July Association made another major
donation to the community in June of 2001. When Erath City
Park was designed, there were to be tennis courts available
for the public to use. However, there was not enough money
available for the Town of Erath to construct these courts.
The Board of Directors of the Association voted to build two
tennis courts in the city park, and donate them to the Town
of Erath for use of the public. Since being built, the
tennis courts have been one of the most popular parts of the
park. The courts are also utilized as the home of the Erath
High School Tennis team.
The Acadian Museum in Erath has also been a major
benefactor of the funds raised by the Association. The
museum has received several donations from the Association
to ensure the continued success of the museum. The
Association also donated the flag poles in front of the
Erath City Hall. The Association voted to donate funds to
the Erath Backers Club for use in the construction of a
baseball field for the Erath High School Baseball team.
Funds were also donated for
lights in Erath,
technology at Dozier Elementary and
two large signs
for the town of Erath. The Association also donated
to Dozier Elementary.