The Atchafalaya Basin Festival takes center stage in Henderson Saturday, celebrating its sixth year in existence. The event, which will take place at Henry Guidry Memorial Park, will have music, cook-offs, fun jumps and rides happening all day long. Admission and parking will be free.

The festival began as a fundraiser for Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Henderson, to help the church pay for a parking lot and give them some needed funds. The event has been growing ever since. In 2010, the festival was named the "New Event of the Year" by the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals, a statewide organization that most of the fairs and festivals belong to.

Gary Simon, one of the two festival coordinators, says it's the festival's bond with the church and the community that helps make them unique:

We're trying to celebrate both the church community and the community of Henderson. But we're trying to keep it true to the Cajun heritage. A lot of what we do is directly related to what goes on in the Atchafalaya Basin/St. Martin Parish areas.

There will be a catfish courtbouillion cookoff and a gumbo cookoff to highlight that uniqueness in the area. This year, they will also host Dude Miquette, a local gator trapper who has put out some videos nationwide on hunting in the Atchafalaya Basin.

You can enjoy zydeco and swamp pop music all day long from 9:00 a.m. until about 10:30 p.m. Some of the performers include Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie, Hunter Courville & Cajun Fever and Jamie Bergeron & the Cajun Kickers, as well as local musicians.

There will be food and drinks sold all day, a TV that will be raffled off and souvenir t-shirts (they have won T-shirt of the year in the past) to help benefit the church. There will also be both a silent and a live auction. Items that will be auctioned off include a Ragin' Cajuns helmet signed by Head Football Coach Mark Hudspeth and the team, as well as a jersey, and a New Orleans Saints helmet signed by Quarterback Drew Brees, as well as items donated by local merchants to the festival.

It's estimated that the festival draws between 3,000 to 5,000 people, depending on the weather (which should be good for Saturday). As you get off Interstate 10, take the Henderson exit and go into downtown Henderson.

You can follow the Atchafalaya Basin Festival on FACEBOOK or at their WEBSITE.

Atchafalaya Basin Festival (Facebook)