The association is a group of men and women from the area who gather throughout the year and make decisions on the Erath Fourth of July Celebration.
Before the association was created, different organizations helped put on the Erath Fourth of July. In the 1930s and 1940s, the festival was a fundraiser for Erath High School. Roy Theriot served as the general manager of the celebration.
In 1976, the Erath Fourth of July Association was incorporated, and has been in charge of the festival ever since. The incorporators included: Eddie Shiner, Richard Dubois, Dolores Dubois, Florence Sonnier, Ernest Pillette, Mary Suire, Leonce J. Lemaire, Ulysse Menard, David Dronet, Theodore Bares, Velma Sonnier, Grace Bares, and Hilda Faulk.
Richard Dubois, who still lives in Erath, said, the association began because the group that were operating the Erath Fourth of July ran into financial trouble. He stayed involved with the association until the 1990s.
“I’m happy the association has been able to last this long,” said Dubois. “The Erath Fourth of July is like homecoming in Erath. The community gets involved.”
The association is in charge of everything that occurs at the celebration. The association decides on what bands are playing during the fais do do to when and where the Queens Pageant will be held.
There are presently 33 board members on the association. The longest active member is Leona Poche. She is 82 years old and still going strong. She is in charge of the tea for the grand marshal right before the parade on Wednesday.
Up until last year, another duty she did was count the money made from the street fair. She and others would stay at the fire until midnight counting the money.
“I think the Fourth of July Celebration is important to the community and the young people,” said Poché. “I want to be a part of this. I want to make this continue. I’m honored they let me help.”
After Poché, Romona Babineaux, and Claudette Lacour are also long-time members.
Presidents of the Erath 4th of July Association have included Richard Dubois, Bill Comeaux, Tony Boquer, Monica Granger Calvert, Norris Bouillion, Claudette Lacour, Mark Mencacci, Elwood Lacour, and Robert B. Vincent.
No one person benefits from the money raised by the activities of the Fourth of July.
All the money raised by the Erath 4th of July Association is returned to the community.
When the Association was begun in 1976, the members of the Association agreed that the Erath community was in desperate need of a community building, where receptions, meetings, and parties could be held. The Board decided that building such a building would be the first project to be financed by the money raised by the festival. It took the Association 11 years, but the Erath Community Building was opened in 1987.
The Town of Erath has also been the recipient of several donations from the Erath 4th of July Association. When Erath City Park was designed, there were to be tennis courts available for the public to use. However, there was not enough money available for the Town of Erath to construct these courts. The Board of Directors of the Association voted to build two tennis courts in the city park, and donate them to the Town of Erath for use by the public. Since being built, the tennis courts have been one of the most popular parts of the park. The courts are also utilized as the home of the Erath High School tennis team.
In 2008, the Association gave Erath the money to purchase the 72 light poles located along the north side of the downtown parking lots. The Association followed that donation with the money to purchase the barricades that the town and the Erath Police Department use as various events held in Erath throughout the year. The signs that welcome visitors to Erath as they travel La Hwy 14 was purchased by the Association in 2010.
The Acadian Museum in Erath has also been a major beneficiary of the funds raised by the Association. The museum has received several donations from the Association to ensure the continued success of the museum. The Association also donated the flag poles in front of the Erath City Hall and donated funds to the Erath Backers Club for use in the construction of a baseball field for the Erath High School Baseball team.
For the past several years, the Association has made several donations to Dozier Elementary School to help meet the Technological Goals of the school. The Association has the desire to see Dozier Elementary become the technological leader in terms of education in the area. With the help of the donations, Dozier has been able to purchase a mobile lab, Promethean boards and several computers.