ABBEVILLE — Francis Plaisance’s vision for a beautiful park and scenic pond — the envy of Acadiana — will be there for everyone to see May 8.

The Abbeville City Councilman-At Large, city officials and the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have scheduled an Abbeville Family Fish Fest. The free event will be held 7 a.m. to noon in the pond at Lafitte Drive-in Park.

“It’s a project I started with the city back in 2011,” Plaisance said Wednesday morning about the park and pond. “It’s a detention pond, part of a $750,000 federal project that we did to alleviate the water (flooding) in the lower part of the city. We put a large pump that pumps water from across the street.”

Ten years ago, he recalled, he said, “‘I’d like to make a recreation area out of this property.’ Over time we bought more property adjacent to the pond and made a nice park out of this, the nicest park in Vermilion Parish and probably one of the nicest parks in surrounding areas.”

Lafitte Drive-in Park, a work still in progress, is a 50-acre area and the pond, which is as deep as 8 feet, encompasses 23 acres. The park will feature walking trails, benches and barbecue grills.

It also boasts a dog park, with one of its sponsors being Raising Cane’s in New Iberia.

The pond has been stocked with bream, chinquapin, bass, catfish and sac-a-lait, Plaisance said, noting LDWF personnel plan to release 1,000 more adult catfish from a state fish hatchery in the water before the event so that Fish Fest-goers, young and old, have an increased chance to catch fish.

The City Councilman said the event is open to anyone in the city, parish and state.

“This is the pinnacle of an exciting idea of having this pond for public fishing. People are going to be able to fish and that makes me happy,” Plaisance said. “We’re expecting hundreds (at the event) because people have been waiting for this to open. We’re expecting a large crowd.”

Food and drinks will be provided for youngsters and adults, he said.

Plaisance, 72, has been a City Council member for 16 years and was Mayor Pro Tem for 12 years. He said until the park is complete and fishing areas are finished, fishing at the lake will be limited to Fridays only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Future plans call for kayak races, he said.

The park is at 105 John Hardy Drive. As many long-time residents and visitors are aware, it’s where the old drive-in theater was located in the city.

“Everybody knows that,” Plaisance said.

LDWF and 4-H personnel will man fish cleaning stations to teach the younger anglers how to safely and properly clean the fish they catch.

Fish Fest participants just bring their own fishing poles. Children must be accompanied by adults and anyone 16 years old or older must possess a fishing license.

For more information call Plaisance at 652-0646.

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