[Reprinted from original]
Gabrielle Guilbeau said the time she has spent in Cameron Parish has felt the most like home because of its traditions and how welcoming the people are.
A Lafayette native, Guilbeau, 22, was named the 63rd Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival queen Dec. 18 in Grand Lake. She represented Vermilion Parish, where some of her family is from.
“Throughout my childhood, I would say some of my happiest moments were in Vermilion,” she said.
Guilbeau said she has been involved in pageants when she first learned to walk. She said participating in pageants has been a family tradition, with her mother, Karen, and her older sister were involved in them.
Guilbeau is currently pursuing a master’s degree in mental health counseling from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Upon graduating, she said she plans to become a registered play therapist, which uses playrooms in order to help children better express their feelings and emotions.
As Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival queen, Guilbeau said she will spend the year traveling the state and educating middle and high school students on the fur trapping and shrimping industries, as well as promoting the fur and wildlife festival.
Last weekend, she visited the four schools in Cameron Parish: Hackberry High School, South Cameron High, Johnson Bayou High and Grand Lake High. She discussed the need for trapping 12 fur-bearing animals, including nutria rats, muskrats, minks and beavers.
“I teach (students) about the harmful impacts these animals have on the environment,” Guilbeau said. “They also have harmful impacts on farm animals.”
Guilbeau was named the Delcambre Shrimp Festival queen in July 2019. During her reign as queen, she traveled to the Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival.
“That’s kind of where I fell in love with the festival,” she said. “We can only be resilient so many times, but the people of Cameron Parish continue to be resilient, especially after the hurricanes.”
Along with educating on the need for the fur trapping industry, the Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival rotates annually between focusing on several industries that are bountiful in Cameron Parish. They include shrimp, cattle hunting and wildlife.
Guilbeau said she will promote the purchase and consumption of local seafood during her statewide travels. She will specifically highlight the shrimp harvested in Cameron, an industry that continues to recover from the devastation left behind by Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020.
Guilbeau encouraged residents to attend the Fur and Wildlife Festival, which continues through Saturday, Jan. 8 at the Burton Coliseum. The event, normally held in Cameron Parish, is being held in Lake Charles because of damages from the 2020 hurricanes.
More information on the festival is available online at lafurandwildlifefestival.com.