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Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

A popular festival on the Northshore is opening its gates tomorrow despite flood damage from Hurricane Isaac.

The Wooden Boat Festival in Madisonville is back on the Tchefuncte River for the 23rd year, despite heavy damage and flooding to the town during Hurricane Isaac. Even longtime volunteers were surprised the event was ready to go on time.

Kenny Milstead said, 'We was wondering if we was gonna be able to get this thing going, but so far, as I'm seeing today, everything is going very, very smoothly.'

After the storm, it didn't take long for organizers to decide Isaac was not going to wash away the event with everything else.

'We got calls and calls, emails and Facebook posts, are you still having the festival,' said Festival Coordinator Louis Saenz, 'And really, I think within three days we had made the final decision, there's no way we're not doing this festival.'

So almost 100 boats are docking along the river, tents for food, arts and crafts are going up, the Children's Village is being put together and the 'Quick and Dirty' boat building race is getting a lot of competitors, all in preparation for the gates to open Saturday. But organizers aren't just taking advantage of this second chance by holding the event, they're dedicating all of the proceeds toward repairs of any Madisonville landmarks that were damaged in the storm, like the Madisonville Lighthouse.

Saenz said, 'The stairs were torn off of the lighthouse and the cottage flooded, the floors are buckling, it's molding, the air conditioning system was damaged and the Maritime Museum sustained some damage as well.'

But devoted volunteers like Milstead say if the festival can get back on its feet this fast, so can the town it calls home.

The festival runs through Sunday and costs $10 per person, $5 for seniors and it's free for kids under 12. Parking is free, local bands will perform every night and an antique car show will be on display as well.

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