LEBLANC REMEMBER - The daughter of the late A.J. LeBlanc, Susan Guilbeau, accepts a special remembrance from Chamber President Nikki Link and Mayor Chuck Robichaux during the 2018 OST Day Celebration. (Acadian-Tribune Photo by Josie Henry)

Third Annual Rayne OST Day Celebration welcomes hundreds

Celebration dedicated in memory of A.J. LeBlanc

RAYNE - The historic downtown area of Rayne was filled with hundreds on Saturday, Nov. 3, for the third annual official Old Spanish Trail Celebration.
Co-sponsors of the annual event were the Rayne Chamber of Commerce and City of Rayne who welcomed visitors from throughout the area.
The Depot Square and the surrounding downtown areas were filled with historical events and numerous displays.
Visitors were welcomed by Chairman Eddie Palmer and OST Committee members as this year’s event has become bigger and better with the addition of more participants, historic discussions and memorabilia for all.
Fr. Christopher Cambre, associate pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church, provided the opening prayer to begin the day, followed by an official welcome and reading of the proclamation by Mayor Charles “Chuck” Robichaux, who also serves on the OST Committee.
Robichaux also expressed his thanks and appreciation to Dr. Eddie Palmer and his wife Anne for their dedication towards the OST Day Celebration, in addition to their dedication and travels to promote Rayne and the OST, stating, “They are jewels of Rayne and we appreciate their dedicated service and work for our community.”
In addition to Robichaux, committee members recognized were Martha Royer, Tiffany Thibodeaux, Bart Wild, Ann Palmer, Cynthia Oliver, Nikki Link, Suzette Leonards, Fran Bihm, Cynthia Beslin and Michelle Autin, all acknowledged for their dedication and hard work for this year’s celebration.
“This year’s event is dedicated in memory of Mr. A.J. LeBlanc,” stated Palmer of the celebration. “Mr. LeBlanc, who was a giant in the Louisiana tourism industry, promoted recognition of the historical significance of the Old Spanish Trail and other roadways.”
In addition to all the work he completed for the OST project, LeBlanc was awarded many times for his dedicated and tireless work he completed for all corners of Acadiana, LeBlanc also served as Director of Acadian Village for 17 years.
During a special presentation, Rayne Chamber of Commerce President Nikki Link and Mayor Robichaux presented LeBlanc’s daughter, Susan Guilbeau, with a special plaque in his honor.
Focal point of the day-long celebration of the third anniversary of when Rayne was designated the first official “Old Spanish Trail City” in the entire nation was The Depot Square between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
On the grounds of The Depot Square were over 30 vendors providing food, refreshments, music, arts and crafts and demonstrations featuring transportation relics and frontier themes including tractors, buggies, antique machines, antique and unique bicycles, and much more.
Also enjoyed throughout the day was musical entertainment provided by Greg Mouton and The Louisiana Knights on the stage of The Depot.
In addition to the numerous vendors at The Depot, visitors enjoyed the annual antique and vintage car display held in a special reserved parking area on the 200 block of East Louisiana Ave. just across the railroad tracks from The Depot Square (in front of The Warehouse).
A number of special displays and presentations were enjoyed at The Bank (site of Rayne’s first bank) near the former Mervine Kahn building where special oldies -- but goodies -- were on display, the “Museum” for the day.
In addition to the numerous displays found at The Bank, speakers filled the air with historical facts and stories of the Old Spanish Trail and it’s effects not only to Rayne, but the entire southern portion of the United States.
Along with an historical slide presentation of yesteryear provided by Tony Olinger, the first presentation at The Bank began at 9:30 a.m. with William Thibodeaux and members of the “Table Francaise” (French Table) featuring sentences about the OST in French translated to English.
Historical discussions were also on the agenda for the day, along with a documentary film, exhibitions and highlights of the past.
“Vignettes and a Few Tales from the Old Spanish Trail” was presented by local historian C. Sidney Stutes at 11 a.m. at The Bank.
At the noon hour at The Bank, Dr. C. Ray Brassieur and Mike LeBlanc presented “Mapping the Old Spanish Trail” followed by the documentary film “The Mervine Kahn Legacy” by the Rayne Historical District Association.
Major funding partners were Eric and Carla Thomas for the use of The Bank, Acadia Parish Assessor James “Jimbo” Petitjean and Rayne Building and Loan.
Thanks are also expressed to the following friends who assisted with the 2018 OST Day Celebration: Bayou Silkscreening and Design, Rayne Acadian-Tribune, Stacey Ancelet, Cheryl Richard Boudreaux, Bethany Dudding, Tony Olinger, Christine Stelly, Big G’s Kans, Ray Constantin, KLFY-TV10 Meet our Neighbor/Tracey Wirtz and the many volunteers who assisted with events.
Palmer and the OST Committee has been working tirelessly and planning a celebration that not only will be fun and entertaining for the entire family, but one that will recognize the historical and cultural significance of the Old Spanish Trail, which stretches nearly 3,000 miles across eight states in the southern area of the country from St. Augustine, Florida, to San Diego, California.
The event was free and open to the general public.

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