Jackson excited about festival, return to Crowley

In town for Rice Festival preparations, Southern University Director of Bands Lawrence Jackson, second from left, also spoke to the Rotary Club of Crowley reflecting on his upbringing in the city as well as his excitement over the band’s appearance at the Rice Festival. Welcoming him Tuesday were, from left, Rotarians Romona Credeur, 77th International Rice Festival president; Mary Zaunbrecher, Rotary president-elect; and Gene Williams Rice Festival general chairman.
“I’m honored to be a part of something as historical as the International Rice Festival." -Lawrence Jackson, Southern University director of bands

If Lawrence Jackson’s excitement is any indicator, the International Rice Festival may never be the same again.

Jackson, the director of bands for Southern University and native of Crowley, is finally getting the chance to do what he has always wanted to, give back to the city.

“I wanted to bring the band here so bad,” he said. “I wanted to give back to the community, but I never had the opportunity until this year.”

Jackson spent part of the day in Crowley Tuesday to go over particulars for the band’s appearance at the 77th International Rice Festival and spoke to the Rotary Club of Crowley. It quickly became obvious that Jackson is as excited to be bringing the band to Crowley as Crowley is to have the band.

Before beginning to talk  about the city of Crowley and Southern University, Jackson shared a video of the band performing at Ragin’ Cajuns Field. The Rotary Club met the performance with thunderous applause.

Jackson began his talk by reflecting on his upbringing in Crowley.

“There isn’t a town or city like Crowley, people care about each other,” he said. “Crowley is a close-knit community.

“After going all over the country and the world, in hindsight, I would ask myself, ‘If you had another opportunity to grow up, where would you reside?’ and the answer is Crowley because of the type of people we have here in Acadia Parish.”

Once he moved onto talking about Southern, Jackson’s genuine joy to be able to share the band with his hometown began bubbling over.

“Crowley is about the people, the good food and the Rice Festival,” he said.

The band’s appearance is not going to be limited to the Grand Parade, according to Jackson. He explained that the band is going to perform in front of the main stage Saturday afternoon for about 20 minutes as well as march in the parade. The parade will also include several stop-and-perform moments.

“I think you are going to enjoy the presentation we will make next week,” he said. “We are going to have more than 200 musicians and dancers. We have a huge band and we’re going to march a 10-man front, but before we do the parade we’re going to do about a 20-minute performance and if you miss that then you are going to miss a treat.”

He would not go into detail about the performance except to say there would be some surprises for those in attendance to see.

Jackson also joked that the band, which typically marches in parades four times as long as the Rice Festival, will be “just warming up” by the time the Grand Parade ends. And his excitement isn’t just limited to bringing the band to Crowley, as this will be Jackson’s first trip to the Rice Festival since the ’80s.

“I am honored and I am pleased to be a part of something as historical as the International Rice Festival,” he said. “I’m like a little kid I’m so excited.

“I’m glad to be a part of history.”

Jackson also wanted to use his time at Rotary to thank all those who helped make the appearance next Saturday possible.

“I want to thank Gene (Williams) and the entire community for inviting me over and making this happen,” he said.