The Winnsboro – Franklin Parish Chamber of Commerce is a vital link in the chain of success of Franklin Parish. Events such as the Franklin Parish Catfish Festival, the Princess Theatre renovation, the Winnsboro Main Street Project, Beautification, Christmas Lighting, the Academic Achievement Banquet, the Farmers Appreciation Dinner, and the Winnsboro Christmas Parade are just a few of the projects the Chamber supports or co-sponsors.
The Chamber sponsors these events to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of our citizens, as well as to enhance the way of life in Franklin Parish.
Annual Installation Banquet
This catered event is held the latter part of January or the first of February on Tuesday or Thursday evening depending on the guest speaker’s schedule. Officers and Board of Directors are installed for the coming year, and the Spirit Award Winner for the past year is announced.
Monthly membership meetings
After being held during in the evening hours for many years, the meetings are now held at noon, and attendance has tripled! These catered events feature well known speakers, including Secretary of State Al Ater, LSU AgCenter professor Dr. Sanford Dooley, Amy Lawson with the Better Business Bureau, and we hope to have U.S. Congressman Bobby Jindal this year. The meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month in the Princess Room in Winnsboro, and are very informative meetings for our members.
“Taste of Franklin”
This is a special event co-sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin Parish Catfish Festival and is held each February to coincide with the kick off of the annual Catfish Festival. Through this venue, local caterers, restaurants and entrepreneurs are provided an opportunity to spotlight their specialty food item in a relaxed, all-you-can-taste “food fair” setting. The “Taste of Franklin” is growing bigger and better each year and promises ticket holders a delightful introduction to the quality, creativity, and unexpected variety of the Franklin Parish food service industry.
Franklin Parish Academic Achievement Banquet
The banquet is co-sponsored by the Chamber and the Franklin Parish School Board. The first banquet was held in 1987 and has been held on the third Thursday in April ever since. The banquet recognizes juniors and seniors that have a 3.5 grade point average or at least a 25 on their ACT. Individuals, businesses and organizations make contributions from $25 to $2000 to cover the cost of the banquet and provide scholarships by random drawing to eligible seniors in attendance. In recent years all seniors attending have received scholarships from $250 to $1000. The banquet serves as a forum for our community to congratulate our students for their academic achievement.
Franklin Parish Catfish Festival
This annual “Spring Party” started as a Chamber initiative 20 years ago and now draws some 20,000 people to Winnsboro each year. The festival offers a tremendous opportunity for local groups and organizations to raise funds for their various endeavors, as well as showcase their products to the huge crowds that attend each year. The festival is held the second Saturday in April unless Easter falls on that particular week-end and then it would be on the first Saturday. This is the largest one-day festival in Louisiana.
Farmers Appreciation Dinner
The Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual dinner for our parish farmers and spouses, who help comprise the backbone of the Franklin Parish economy. In addition to the dinner, the first bale of cotton grown in the parish is auctioned to the highest bidder, and door prizes are awarded to the farmers that attend. First held in 1998, the yearly event is normally scheduled on the first Thursday in September.
Annual Christmas Parade
After being held in the daylight hours for many years, the Christmas parade was held at night for the first time in 2003, and was a huge success. The parade has since been held at night on the first Friday in December. Some 20 to 25 lighted floats are entered, along with high school bands, drill teams, cheerleaders, elected officials and pageant winners. A food court, and entertainment stage are also a part of the festivities, and thousands line the parade route to enjoy the event.
Leaders of the Chamber of Commerce engineered a massive beautification campaign during the 1980’s that turned an eyesore along Highway 15 into an award-winning model of community development and enrichment. This effort spurred other communities along Highway 15 to do the same thing, and now the main traffic artery through the parish is one that we can all be proud of. Beautification efforts are on-going throughout the parish.