Alum hosts area’s first car festival

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Alum hosts area’s first car festival

Alan Rawles

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It’s been said when a person’s job is doing something they love, it isn’t really a job. Jason Madden, who graduated from ULM in 2002 with a Master’s in education, applied this principle when he started his automotive tuning shop in Oak Grove, Louisiana.

Now his store is the main sponsor for Northeast Louisiana’s biggest car themed festival, MadFest. Madden created the concept of MadFest a few years ago. His vision was to bring people together who enjoyed all things automotive.

Madden’s dream became reality October 14 and 15 when over 2500 people came from as far as Texas to see his automotive festival in action. Madden said he was glad to see so many people come to the event since they had other choices.

“We experienced a successful weekend despite an away game for Oak Grove, a ULM homecoming game and a car show in West Monroe,” Madden said.

Madden said if more people showed up, they would have run out of parking space.

MadFest had many different events for all types of automotive lovers. Spectators who were still sleepy were woken-up by the first event, the exhaust competition.

This event let participants show off the loudness of their car or truck’s exhaust.

If that wasn’t enough to get the crowd going, the autocross event surely would. Drivers slid their cars, and in one case a minivan, around cones laid out in a technical course to set fast times.

From a lightweight Mazda Miata to a 700 horsepower Cadillac, this event tested the skill of both the driver and the car to see who could make it through the course without crushing a cone.

Festival goers always had an event they could enjoy. Before the autocross was even finished, Madden announced that the rock crawling event was starting.

Modified Jeep Wranglers and dedicated rock crawling buggies clamored over crushed cars and steep mounds of dirt and rock to show off their off-road capabilities.

Other off-road events included truck sled pulls, a truck tug-of-war and a tough truck competition which showed off the strength of participant’s trucks and side-by-sides.

Kids could join in on the fun by driving remote control cars through the off-road course between events.

A local insurance company even brought out a monster truck for people to ride in.

A car show ended the day with almost 50 cars split into multiple categories for judging. Winners were given trophies for first place in their category, and judges handed out three best in show for paint, judge’s choice and best overall.

Lance Hilton, also a ULM alum who graduated in 2009 in construction, organized the car show. Hilton said while there were only 50 vehicles judged, there were easily over 80 in attendance that could have been judged. Despite this, Hilton was glad that overall participation was good.

“[Participation] met the expectations of each category,” Hilton said.

Madden agreed that participation was high except in one event. He is looking forward to next year for some improvements including increasing participation where needed.

While Madden was hesitant to name a date for next year, he did say that MadFest 2017 will probably be around the same time as this year’s festival.

Madden said his goals for MadFest were met. He raised awareness for the community and gave people a fun atmosphere to enjoy automotive culture.