Fox shows documentary on McCrea music festival

By Raymond L. Daye

A full house was on hand at the Fox Theater last Thursday to enjoy a double feature of documentaries -- one on the role the state played in our nation’s greatest victory and the other on what is generally considered a dismal failure.

The first feature was on Louisiana’s role in World War II. The state hosted military maneuvers prior to the war, with the likes of George Patton and Omar Bradley training the soldiers. The state was also home to several prisoner of war camps during the war. This documentary recounted the state’s impact on the war and the war’s affect on Louisiana. It was produced by Dr. Bill Robison of Southeastern La. University and Jerry Sanson of LSUA.

The film that most came to see, however, was McCrea: 1971, produced by by SLU students Nicholas Brilleaux and Scott Caro. The documentary recounted the June 1971 rock festival at McCrea, in neighboring Pointe Coupee Parish.

Several Avoyelles Parish residents, then in their late teens or 20’s, attended the open-air music festival called the “Celebration of Life.” The event is generally considered to have been a failure on all counts -- artistically, economically, socially. {See related article for more on the Celebration of Life music festival.} But you could not tell that from the crowd at the current event.

Janet Riddle, treasurer of the Fox Theater, said the Fox event “was definitely a success. People were parked all around the theater. It was great.” Lexie Leger, president of Fox’s board of directors, said they sold out and had more than 40 would-be ticket buyers on a waiting list. The Fox can hold 210.

“We didn’t know we would sell out and that it would be this popular,” Leger said. “We have obtained permission from both producers to have a second showing of both documentaries. We have not scheduled that yet, but we will.” Leger said the event “was definitely a good experience for us.”

After the showing, attendees were allowed to ask questions of the producers. “There were a lot of good questions asked,” Leger said. Brilleaux and Caro told the crowd that there had been very little written about the Celebration of Life prior to their documentary. Since the Emmy-winning documentary has been being shown, they said there have been many more pictures and stories emerging about the event.

Beryl Borrel Barbin of Marksville attended the festival in 1971. She said the evening at the Fox “was delightful” because it was a success for the Fox.

“It was also a kind of downer, too,” she said. “I was young and caught up in the moment, the music was intense.” She said she remembers the good times, the good people she met at the festival. But that night at the documentary, “it made you stand back and look at it in a different way.”