Italian Digest

(New Orleans)- As we all know, you'll never see a better portrayal and appreciation for old customs and traditions than in this very publication. From pictures of an early 1900's wedding held at St Mary's in the French Quarter, to the fresh catch-of -the-day being peddled at the French Market, the contributions of Italian Americans are embedded in the fabric of New Orleans. For me, looking at these black & whites on the walls of the Crescent City's most storied haunts makes my chest stick out a little further while at the same time wishing that the old time machine could take me back a few years and witness these events first hand. Because Marty McFly's time machine is stuck in some two-bit Hollywood museum and Mr. Rourke from Fantasy Island didn't answer his calls, native New Orleanian Robbie (La Cava) Rabb took matters into his own hands and reinstituted his favorite old Italian custom — The Italian American Fishing Rodeo. The event, started in 1979, ran through the early 1990's and called such south Louisiana fishing hot spots as Grand Isle, Empire and Buras home. This year's rodeo will take place May 14-15 at Breton Sound Marina, in Hopedale, Louisiana. Rabb, 36, is a past children's division winner and recalls the event as "a flat out good time.” "As much of a party as it was, it had that special feel of family, too. I guess like most get-togethers in the Italian community." "The real beneficiary here will be Children's Hospital. All proceeds are going to them." he added. The Rodeo last took place in 1992. As with any successful event, the need for fresh faces to uphold the standards set by the charter members is a must. "As younger members we failed to do that, somewhat" Rabb added. Jim LaCava, the founder of the original rodeo, is proud to witness its revival. "It truly was a really nice event. You had fathers and sons having a great time on the water. The bonds that were formed between family and friends out there were what made the rodeo so special. To see it return is a great sign. I'm anxious to be there." As for what prompted the 15 year lay-off LaCava stated "The recession hit, the gill net laws were enforced and our costs were going up. From bait to charter boats, it became an economic burden for some. And we had done this for 14 years." "To see the younger guys pick it up like this (Rabb is LaCava's nephew) is really something." LaCava and a few of his co-founders are even attending the next committee meeting for this year's event. "In our hey-day, we had members from the several different Italian organizations throughout South Louisiana. It brought everyone together." La Cava added. Joey Cannizzaro, a member of the Italian American Marching Club, is excited about the event. "I'll be there. When my son is old enough, he'll be there. To one day have my father and son fishing in the same boat with me in this type of event would mean more than catching the winning speckled trout. But if I catch the winner that'd be fine, too" he said. The rodeo will kick off with a Friday Night Captain's Party and have a weigh-in beginning at 11am, at Breton Sound Marina, in Hopedale, Louisiana. All the traditional categories will post winners. Tickets for the rodeo are $35 per person and include a shirt, and the entry fee for the rodeo and the Captain's Party. For sponsor or participant info, call Robbie Rabb at (504) 957-4403, or Allen Catoire at (504)388-5625.