The annual Leesville MayFest will roll out over 80 vendors, several bands, food and a poster to celebrate the event this weekend.

Marcie Cook of the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission said MayFest is a year-round project.

Several agencies and groups participate in the process. “We have a lot of partnerships that we have developed, and organizations, that we work with to make this festival happen,” Cook said.

These volunteers are the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office, Office of Homeland Security, the Leesville Police Department, the Leesville Fire Department, Vernon Parish Police Jury, Vernon Parish Maintenance Crew, City of Leesville and Public Works, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, Progressive Waste Solutions, Senator John Smith and Representative James Armes.

Fort Polk also participates by sending a color guard for the opening ceremony and a static display including military personnel and vehicles.

“(MayFest) is an economic boost to the area with all of the people who come,” Cook said. “Visitors come from as far south as Lafayette, Lake Charles, and as far north as Shreveport and East Texas.”

Cook boasted the fact this is one of the few festivals where the live music is free. She said every cent made at MayFest goes back into preparing for it the following year. “Vernon Parish Tourism sells drinks and that money goes toward the bands,” she said.

Cook was at the first MayFest when she was a student at Leesville High School in 1976. At that time it was an afternoon arts festival. “It has slowly grown and evolved. We came with high school to show our artwork,” she said.

MayFest still celebrates artwork. In fact, each year a MayFest poster is designed by a local artist. The originals are framed and hang in the Vernon Parish Office of Tourism in Leesville.

This year’s MayFest poster was created by Hornbeck artist Richelle Doris. Last year her work was selected in a poster design contest for the Zwolle Tamale Festival.

Doris said she was contacted by John Crook of the Vernon Parish Tourism Commission about whether she was interested in creating the 2018 MayFest poster.

Doris is no stranger to the festival as she has had a booth there for the past three years.

As she planned her design, Doris attempted to include various elements of the local event. “I wanted to have a lot of festivities going on and to celebrate the arts – painting, music and food,” Doris said. “I wanted to include all those little booths you would see there.”

In the creation of her poster design, Doris used pen and ink, watercolor and gouache. Gouache, pronounced “gwash,” is similar to watercolor but creates a more opaque appearance.

Doris will have a booth at MayFest again this year along with her fiance William Self who also makes and sells his artwork. She will be selling some original work from her recent graduate show at Northwestern State University. This series of paintings tends to focus on the zodiac, constellations and outer space. She said they are very colorful.

MayFest begins this afternoon and continues through Saturday night. The bands who will perform on Friday night are Stereo Drive, Mercury Blue, Straight Shot, Beau Shyne and Mia Borders (headlining at 9 p.m.).

The Saturday evening bands are Uptown Jazz, Louisiana Sideman, Front Cover, Old Man Band, Jordan Anderson & Friends and Confederate Railroad (headlining at 9 p.m.).

The Leesville Lions Club will hold their annual pancake breakfast fundraiser at 7 a.m. on Saturday. All proceeds benefit the Lions Club Camp for Crippled Children.