The Chamber of Commerce, American Business Women’s Association and seven of the local banks are sponsoring "A Taste of St. Mary" food and trade show Thursday evening at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium.

Sadly, there isn’t a single west St. Mary restaurant participating, and few merchants. In fact, there’s only one as of today.

One has to wonder if there is some invisible force field at the Calumet Cut that prevents us from driving that way. Does the car engine automatically shut off at Ricohoc?

Moses himself couldn’t even part that water, it seems.

Is it any wonder the eastern end is holding the reins over us, economically and politically?

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Many of you kind folks came to me enthused with growing this community. The excitement I’ve seen in your eyes got me riled up and rip-raring to go with you.

Since then, when I’ve checked back with some of you, you sheepishly admitted not much was happening. Well, you know, this and that and the other thing, time, whatever.

I thought we’d give up later, really. I thought we’d put together something – just to be silly, say, a Cotton Candy Bazaar or a Citizens Against Crappy Government – try it one time and if it wasn’t a sensational hit the first time, second time at best, we’d throw up our hands and go back to our television sets. With all the enthusiasm and vision I’ve seen in your eyes the last few weeks, I thought we’d get at least that far.

I’m still belting away at my project. Yeah, I get tied up with other things. Sometimes for weeks. But I always drive myself to come back to it. I’m behind on it right now, in fact. But I’ll catch up. Because it’s important to me to do this. To grow this community.

Listen, it’s hard work. No doubt about it. We are going to get kicked in the teeth, ridiculed and brushed off. Count on it. But at least we’ll have the satisfaction of having tried, and hopefully, succeeded, in making this community prosper. Notice I did not say "grow." Not that growth is a bad thing, but the word "grow" has been bandied around for decades now with no results. We should feed the community for health, not bulk.

All around us, communities just like us and in many cases far, far inferior to us are blowing and going as a result of some energy, commitment and vision. We’re lagging behind here and complaining about it. It won’t be easy. You’ve got to change your mindset and that of the people around you, particularly an officialdom that either possesses no vision or has given up believing in it.

Is it, or is it not, important to you?

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Let’s talk positive for a moment.

Some of you talked to me about farmer’s markets. I think that’s a great idea. I cautioned most of you that – as stated above – you cannot expect it to be a rip-roaring, overnight sensation in neon lights like a Broadway hit musical. It’s going to take time. All things you, me and that other fella over there come up with to grow this community are going to take time.

I like the idea of a farmer’s market, but it’s going to take time. Remember that, organizers, vendors and shoppers.

I don’t know why we have this idea in this community that if something doesn’t blast off like Apollo 11 we throw our hands up and walk away from it.

In fact, I made this pledge to the people who talked to me about it: I’ll grow my favorite variety of tomatoes – the name of which I’ll withhold until the time comes! – for introduction at the market. You may have heard of this variety before, most likely not, but if you’re a tomato lover, it’ll knock your socks off.

Actually, I can see this whole thing growing into something like an old country fair in time. In time. A farmer’s market doesn’t have to be just farm-raised. It can, does and will consist of baked goods, citrus, preserves, jams, crafts, quilts, art, games, trinkets, treasures, the whole kit and kaboodle.

In time.

You understand, that not only do folks – city folks, especially – just love that sort of thing, they really, really get into it in a quaint, charming, historic setting like, oh, I don’t know, ya figure we got one of those around here?

The country fair can grow to boat rides on Bayou Teche. Horse-shoe pitching. Heck, I’ll give fly-casting lessons if ya’ll want. All sorts of things, near and far, we can latch onto. A little here, a little there. In time. Pirogue-building demonstrations and classes. Leather work. Candy making. The possibilities are literally endless.

And all of it starts with just an idea, followed by some drive to press the OFF button on the remote and go do it.

There are no invisible force fields in the real world. The engines do not automatically shut off anywhere.

The only thing stopping you…is you.