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Contraband Days

Pirates Swarm the Docks during Contraband Days

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Lake Charles’ Contraband Days brings old legends to life through a pirate-themed celebration. The festival began nearly 60 years ago as a means of retelling the story of famed pirate Jean Lafitte who, according to legend, docked his ship in Lake Charles and buried his treasure in the vicinity.

The fun begins with a mock pirate invasion. Citizens of Lake Charles attempt to defend the shores as pirates move in to “capture” the mayor, who eventually walks the plank to mark the official start of the festivities. Afterward, Contraband Days takes place over a two-week period filled with live musical performances, games, carnival rides, food and fun for all in attendance. Concerts range in genre from zydeco and Cajun to oldies and classic rock.

Contraband Days also features a number of entertaining and educational attractions. Shark Encounter, an educational exhibit for children and adults, features a live shark tank, instructional videos, lectures and educational artifacts such as shark teeth and jaw bones.

Additionally, the festival hosts a number of friendly contests, such as the Cajun Pirate Barbecue Cookoff. Contestants grill in various categories, and the top three participants receive cash prizes. For children, a pirate costume contest allows young buccaneers to show off their pirate style for a panel of judges. A boat parade, a car show, an art show and the annual Tour Lafitte, a cycling marathon supporting the Southwest Louisiana Special Olympics, round out the festivities. While Contraband Days provides locals with a variety of fun and entertainment, it also benefits a number of other area nonprofit organizations with proceeds from various booths and other sales.

Photo Credit: Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance