Revisiting: Vernon Arts Council, Part 3

Billy Crawford | Guest Contributor

This series is to recognize the positive effects the Vernon Arts Council had on the entire Vernon Parish community. Working together as a team, this very successful effort was led by devoted leaders from all segments of the community. 

Nick Pollacia, Jr. was elected President of the Vernon Arts Council. Pollacia took over the reins from Larry Leach, who successfully guided the Vernon Parish Arts Council in its second year as president. Also elected were: First Vice-President Laura Leach, Second Vice-President Martha Palmer, Jim Kitts Secretary, Bryant Fowler, Treasurer. 

Board of Directors included Gloria Owen, Selma Biggs, Berta Fertitta, T.L “Sonny” Berry Jr., Virginia Steele, Barney Wilson, Gertie Snell, and Clay Clark.

In order to comply with Louisiana State Law, the Association's official name was changed from Vernon Parish Arts Council to the Vernon Arts Council.

The Vernon Arts Festival and the Heart 0' Leesville Association teamed up for a sidewalk art show that was open to everyone to exhibit their works. Over 200 art works were exhibited in this initial year.

Three merit awards were given in each category: Elementary, Junior High, High School, Special Education, and Adult.  A "Best in Show" award was also awarded. 

Nick explained, "The Council is trying to present programs that will appeal to the audience and foster a good solid expansion of entertainment. Not every program will please everyone, but a variety should appeal to everybody at some time. The first and foremost purpose is for the young people, and the Council is a good way to expose them to art at an affordable price. Most of the performances are geared to expose art to the children of Vernon Parish."

The following performances were scheduled in Season 3: The Shreveport Symphony, Valerian and US-- a large swinging group from Baton Rouge, The Vernon Community Chorus performance of The Messiah, The Bost Famenco Ballet, and The Ronnie Kole Trio Plus Three.

Later when The Bost Flamenco Ballet canceled, The Council signed Roy Head and the Traits, a "rockability band" from Three Rivers, Texas. The band had a mega-hit record, "Threat Her Right." The record went to # 2 on both the U.S. Pop Chart and the R&B Chart in1965. 

Roy Head was described as having a personality like Elvis Presley and vocal athleticism of Tom Jones. He often performed in Las Vegas on the Jerry Louis Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon.

The final performance of the season was the Ronnie Kole Trio Plus Three held at the Hayride. A Leesville Leader article written by a staff writer described the event: 

"The performance was a delightful informal music festival, followed by dance music the second hour. With a steady patter of rain on the roof, the audience grouped around Kole's piano. His chatty manner with them added to the friendly atmosphere of the evening. They ran the gamut of modern and old favorite music." 

The concert closed with the hymn "Amazing Grace" for which his group's rendition is famous.