The Vernon Arts Council in 1975 created a one-day sidewalk art show in downtown Leesville.

They called the event the West Louisiana Folk Art Festival.

That small one-day festival has morphed into what is now known as Mayfest.

Held the first weekend in May, it is no longer just a small sidewalk art show. Mayfest has grown into one of the premier festival events in the state.

It was recognized in 2012 as the State Festival of the Year by the Louisiana Tourism and Promotions Association.

"Mayfest in the past 18 years has really grown," Vernon Parish Tourism Director John Crook said. "It’s went from single day event to a two day festival with really outstanding musical performances"

Crook said that the street party held in Leesville's historic district has brought in acts such as Grammy award winner Irma Thomas, Tab Benoit, and Wayne Toups. It also features a lineup of some of the local talent from around West Central Louisiana.  

Though this year's entertainment lineup is not yet finalized, Crook said he will be releasing the acts for the 43 Mayfest soon.

Another noted area of growth is the number of vendors who set up shop on Third Street during the two-day event.

"Mayfest is considered an arts and crafts festival and we love to see handmade products," Crook said. "But over the years we've seen venders that set up to sell all sorts of different items including those that sell really delicious food."

Crook said 118 vendors were at the festival last year. He expects to see at least that many this year.

One of the traditions of Mayfest is the Lions Club Pancake Breakfast held on the courthouse lawn each year. "This is a tradition that has been going on for nearly as long as the festival," Crook said.

The addition of a car show in recent years has proved to be popular and growing larger each year. The car show is organized by the Toledo Cruisers car club but the show is open to nonmembers.

Mayfest will be held on May 4 and 5 this year. For more information about the festival or how to be a vender contact Jack Maile at 337 238-0783, ext 101.