Vivian is a central location in the Ark-La-Tex region sitting only 40 minutes outside of Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana; 50 minutes outside of Texarkana, Texas; and a little over an hour outside of Magnolia, Arkansas. This year, Vivian celebrated their 55th Annual Louisiana Redbud Festival with a full day of family-friendly events. This festival is enjoyable for everyone and is arguably one of the most well attended festivals on the Boom or Bust Byway, a 130-mile self-driving tour.
On the third Saturday of March, this festival joyfully thrives on the scattered redbud trees decorating the town with bright blossoms every year. Festivalgoers are encouraged to spend a day reveling in the redbud fun by throwing darts at the carnival, catching colorful beads at the parade, devouring fried chicken on a stick, vibing to the melodies of live bands, and more.
I asked Ashley Ezell, president of the Louisiana Redbud Festival, what makes the celebration of the redbud trees so popular, and she responded, “We just have that warm and friendly hometown feeling. It never fails, you will see happy families having fun in our diverse community every year. As a small town girl, I’ve never witnessed anything sweeter.”
I couldn’t agree with Ezell more. As a fellow small town girl, I can relate to the warm fuzzies you get when you return home, but this experience surpassed my expectations, beginning with the carnival. The Miller Spectacular Carnival had all the bells and whistles of a state fair, but on a smaller scale. It’s perfect for families who want to escape the large, obnoxious crowds and share an intimate, entertaining moment. There were endless candied apples, carnival games, and rides. I impressed myself a bit with target shooting, and rewarded myself with a foot-long corn dog. Talk about deep-fried, crunchy goodness…whew!
Next up, the Louisiana Redbud Parade. The excitement that you find in Louisiana’s enthusiastic parade crowds is like no other. Children, teens, and adults alike caught items midair from parade floats in passing. This particular parade was launching eclectic goodies such as beef jerky, stuffed animals, t-shirts, a slew of traditional Mardi Gras beads and candy. Keeping a watchful eye on the items in flight and an admiring eye on the impressive parade line-up is a tough job, but someone has to do it. The parade was filled with large decorative floats, classic cars, school bands and cheerleaders, dancers, 4-wheelers, motorcyclists, costumed characters, Louisiana Redbud Pageant winners and more.
Whenever I take my road trip to Vivian, I always find it fascinating that everyone automatically knows to migrate to the downtown area after parades. There, I found food trucks, arts and crafts vendors, live music, lemonade stands, face painting and fun festival carts filled with hats, bubble guns, balloons and more. My two favorite moments during the festival were simply witnessing strangers bond over their love for crawfish tacos while waiting in line and seeing children dance to together to the tunes of local bands.
The Louisiana Redbud Festival is exactly what Ezell told me it would be and more. If you missed out on this year’s fun, plan a trip to Vivian and indulge in the town’s festivities and community camaraderie next year. If you don’t want to wait, get a similar experience at the upcoming Gusher Days Festival on May 4 at Earl G. Williamson Park in Oil City. Festival season is in the air on the Boom or Bust Byway, so plan your summer road trip accordingly.