VIDEO — New ride, more food options coming to the Nederland Heritage Festival

Published 12:40 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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NEDERLAND — The Big Kahuna is coming to Boston Avenue.

The thrill ride is a new addition to the Nederland Heritage Festival, scheduled for March 14-19.

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But it’s not the only new treat for patrons.

St. Joseph Catholic Church in Port Arthur has been added to the food vendors, where they’ll be serving up Mexican food such as quesadillas and tacos.

And that as well as the other tasty foods at the festival this year can be enjoyed under a 40-feet by 80-feet covered area with tables and chairs underneath.

It’s double what was available last year in the new, expanded food section.

“There were people sitting on the ground, walking around holding their food,” said Nederland Heritage Festival Director Shannon Hemby. “That’s another improvement. As we go with that, we’ll make more and more improvements with what we have, what we can add and what the people are asking for. I like listening to what the patrons want while keeping in mind our workers behind the scene.”

Because, Hemby said, it takes between 80 and 100 volunteers to make the festival happen each year.

“It’s multi-layered because there are two chairmen for every event, and under those chairmen there are also people who volunteer to help them out,” she said. “Transportation, for instance — the ones that bring all of the food vendor’s stuff in — there’s a chairman and a co-chairman, then it takes about a team of 20-30 to run the golf carts. So there are many layers to all of this.”

Passports to Fun have sold out, but all-you-can-ride wristbands will be available Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday for $30 each. (Monique Batson/The News)

Monday officials opened up photos for the Passports to Fun, which are open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Nederland Heritage Festival office on Boston Avenue.

Passports sold out Feb. 6, and Hemby said they’re selling out faster each year. Per the contract with GoldStar Amusement, they are allowed 3,500 each year. This year they sold 1,000 online for the first time.

Passports go on sale the first Monday in November.

“People buy them for birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, Valentines gifts, good grades,” Hemby said. “Stocking stuffers for Christmas is a big thing.”

Last year, attendance hit an all-time record.

“We don’t have a gate, so we go off money,” Hemby said. “Money-wise it was the largest year we’ve ever had, which in turn means we can give more back in scholarships, more back to the city because we do the parks department, police department, fire department. We’ve given to animal control. But my favorite thing other than being able to give back to the city is awarding scholarships.”

They’re up to seven scholarships now, and Hemby hopes attendance continues to climb so they can offer more money to local students.

Festival Chairman Kasey Taylor anticipates large crowds in 2023.

“We just want everyone to come out,” Taylor said. It’s free to get in, free parking anywhere that’s legal in Nederland, free live music on stage. We have our craft market on the weekend that’s free to get into. Saturday is a fun-filled day. We have the parade, chili cook-off, car and motorcycle show. Sunday we have a washer tournament. We also have crawfish races that are fun for the kids. We have so much fun.

“I’m so excited. It’s like we get to give the City of Nederland a giant party.”