The Start-Girard Fire Department was out in force to help people celebrate, despite the rain during the day.

Start marks centennial with celebration

Start celebrated it’s centennial year Sept. 8 with a community-wide birthday party. 

Though originally planned as an outdoor event, the community “rallied together and moved it to the Start school gymnasium as it became evident that rain would be coming,” Start resident Luke Letlow said.

Start is unincorporated, but in 2010, it became a “census designated place,” or CDP.  When Richland Parish was created in 1868, the area known as “Start” today was often referred to originally as Ward 3, Crew Lake, Charleston, Wynn Island, and Robinson. Start became an officially recognized name for the area however on September 7, 1918, when the United States Postal Service officially approved it as an acceptable name for a post office located in the store of James M. Morgan. Charleston was originally submitted, but was rejected because there were already too many Charlestons. It was Morgan’s daughter, Rachel, who suggested the name Start, because they were “making a new Start.”

In recognizing the 100th anniversary year of “Start,” plans for a celebration began to take shape. 

Taylor Bennett, 27, also of Start “took the initiative to make it all come together,” Letlow said.

Cross Keys Bank signed on to be the title sponsor, and BayouLife agreed to sponsor publicity and advertising. Start resident Andy Smart worked to lineup The Liberty Boys, Bradley Bridges, and a bluegrass band for entertainment throughout the evening.

Despite the stormy weather, several hundred people came out for the celebration. Organizers said they had some last minute challenges due to the weather, but said that “rain or shine, they couldn’t remain 99.” 

As the setup neared completion, food trucks from Monroe couldn’t get the power they needed at the revised location. Bennett says that’s when something beautiful happened. 

“People showed up ready to move every single wet hay bale, farm table and a million balloons in the rain. Volunteers pulled up a huge grill and started cooking with absolutely no notice whatsoever,” Bennett said. “That’s the community I know and love.”

The Richland Parish Chamber also helped in sponsoring the event, including a time-capsule that will stay buried for the next 100 years. Attendees wrote letters and dropped them in the capsule throughout the night. The capsule will be buried in the coming months, with a marker placed on top. Curry’s Christmas tree farm has offered to assist with an official “Start” Christmas tree later this year, and Letlow thinks that might be a great time to bury it.

Among the noted attendees for the night were Senator Francis Thompson, Sheriff Gary Gilley, and U.S. Federal Judge Terry Doughty. 

Country-music great Tim McGraw, who grew up in Start, even took time to recognize Start’s 100th birthday

“This place and these folks are such a part of who I am and what I do. Such a special place,” McGraw said on social media.

Organizers wish to thank all who attended and volunteered their time, and are especially grateful to the following sponsors. Cross Keys Bank; BayouLife; the Richland Parish Chamber of Commerce; Kevin Eppinette; Northeast Louisiana Dirt Works; Calvin and Amy McKenzie; BrokerSouth Investments; Cochran, Clark, Robinson, and Thomason; Cotton, Bolton, Hoychick and Doughty; Start Baptist Church; the Start Fire Department and Start Elementary principal Joy Davis.

Richland Today

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