How it all got started
In 1978, the first Rotary Club in St. Charles Parish was chartered; The Rotary Club of West St. Charles Parish. The name changed in the 90’s to The Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish.
The newly formed club was looking for a long term project and wanted to select one that would reflect the ideals and goals of Rotary International. In 1980, Archie Mollere, a member of both the Rotary Club and the St. Charles Parish School Board, donated his $250.00 school board salary to the Club to award a scholarship to a graduating high school senior from Hahnville or Destrehan, the parish’s 2 public high schools. Another member, Bob Becker, was Vice President of Rathborne Land Company. Some of the land he managed was swamp land and filled with all kinds of nature’s creatures. At that time, the alligator was being taken off of the endangered species list and a hunting season was being put in place. Together, Archie and Bob came up with the idea of having an Alligator Festival and holding it during alligator hunting season in September.
The first Alligator Festival was held on the driving range at Willowdale Country Club. It soon outgrew the driving range and the Festival was moved to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Hahnville. In 1985, the Alligator Festival moved to Hwy 90 in Boutte. In 1994, it moved to a different location on Hwy 90, the same spot that Walmart is now on. Another move occurred in 2000, when the Festival moved to its present home, the St. Charles Parish Westbank Bridge Park.
All aspects of the Alligator Festival are produced by the St. Charles Parish Rotary Club and each different section is run by one of the members. It is manned by volunteers who are members, and member’s wives, husbands, children, and friends.
The Alligator Festival gets support from sponsors, local companies, and community volunteers.
The Festival has a family atmosphere that the Club strives to maintain. Some of the locals use the Festival to meet up with friends once a year. It has become the largest festival in St. Charles Parish.
Proceeds from the Festival are used to support the scholarships. Since the original $250 scholarship, donated by Mollere, the Club has awarded scholarships in excess of $600,000. The Rotary Club is the largest private scholarship provider to local high school seniors in St. Charles parish.
If you visit, you might see “Mr. Alligator”. He or she is the Club President and has a special hat to wear for the weekend.