This one will probably go straight into that stack of invitations that President Obama has no intention of responding to, right alongside the invites from crazy old classmates and fringe advocacy groups, but Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle has extended the offer nonetheless.
Angelle has posted an open letter to the president on the lieutenant governor's website inviting him to the 75th annual Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, scheduled for Sept. 2-6 in Morgan City. Last month, Angelle MC'd the "Rally for Economic Survival" at the Cajundome, where attendees touted the state's oil industry and decried the presdient's moratorium on deepwater drilling. In his letter, Angelle says the president's attendance at the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival would be a "tremendous show of support for the hard-working Americans who are honored by this festival and would go a long way in restoring consumer confidence in the region." Here's the full letter:
Dear Mr. President:
In light of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010 and the subsequent effects on the people, environment and economy of Louisiana, I formally request the honor of your presence at the 75th Annual Shrimp and Petroleum Festival on September 2 - 6, 2010 in Morgan City, Louisiana.
The festival is a celebration of the resilient people who work along our coast, not the industries in its title. Regardless of our individual thoughts on how to best move forward from this tragedy, we all agree that the Americans who sacrifice to feed and fuel this nation and who have been most affected by the oil spill should be recognized and honored for their efforts—which has been the purpose of this festival for more than 70 years. As you know, the reality for many of our citizens is that their very way of life has been drastically altered, and most are gravely concerned by the uncertainty of the future.
Hosted in an area known as the “Cajun Coast,” this historic event features the region’s unique culture and heritage. One such time-honored tradition is the Blessing of the Fleet, a centuries old practice where the local priest blesses the boats as they make their journey to sea to ensure a safe and bountiful season.
As Louisiana’s oldest chartered festival, it began in 1936 when the first boatload of jumbo shrimp, fresh from the deepest waters ever fished by a small boat, entered the Port of Morgan City. Held appropriately on Labor Day, it marked the first of many commemorations to come. Thirty-one years later, when the oil industry had become deeply rooted in the local economy, the festival was given its present name. Ever since, the celebration has honored the hard-working men and women of both industries. In fact, for generations most families in the region have had some relatives working in the seafood industry and others working in the petroleum industry. The oil spill has hit these families especially hard on many fronts.
In addition, the state’s tourism industry, which contributes approximately $9.4 billion to the state’s economy and is related to one out of every twelve jobs, has also been severely damaged. The oil spill has spawned widespread misperceptions that are negatively affecting the industry. Some of the most damaging falsehoods are that the state’s seafood is unsafe and that our environment is wholly spoiled. These are
categorically false. Nonetheless, recent studies commissioned by the Louisiana Office of Tourism show that 26% of travelers who had plans to visit the state prior to the crisis have since cancelled. The oil spill’s collateral impact on the tourism industry and the state’s economy could prove disastrous. According to analysis conducted by Oxford Economics for the U.S. Travel Association, the effects of the oil spill could last up to three years and cost up to $22.7 billion.
Your attendance would be a tremendous show of support for the hard-working Americans who are honored by this festival and would go a long way in restoring consumer confidence in the region. I hope you will join us and experience all the unique treasures that Louisiana continues to provide.
Very truly yours,
Scott A. Angelle