From the early years of Isleton California history, where Bootleggers and Bordello's were winked at in this tiny delta community, many colorful and interesting characters brought national attention to this community. Police Chief Gene Bird, circa 1980's grabbed headlines for raising funds for his department by issuing easy handgun carry permits as long as one had a clean record, otherwise, no more questions asked.
Isleton has always been known as a town with two faces...much like in Greek Theatre with Comedy & Tragedy masks that represent the good and the bad... kind of a yin & yang dichotomous "tar baby" of sorts. On the one hand the town produced the Isleton Crawdad Festival which for years brought tens of thousands of folks to this delta hamlet every Fathers Day weekend. The picturesque old town ambiance gave the festival a flavor that people enjoyed to come back for every year.
The town had a bustling and growing main street merchant and business boom that looked like it's taxes and fees would help this small city provide the needed services to it's 800 plus residents. But between hard times and inept management, the city began grasping at straws and hatching hair-brained schemes that has caused a national spotlight of embarrassment to those in the town who worked hard and conducted themselves honestly and ethically. The marijuana growing farm scheme for medical pot brought indictments from the Sacramento County Grand Jury and threats from the DEA and U.S. Justice Department. Bizarre sex-capades in police cars, Police Chief firings and the entire police force disbanded, city councilpersons under scrutiny as suspects in drug dealing, and the list goes on and on and on.
Now we find some elements in the city trying to roadblock the new reorganized Chamber of Commerce from being successful with the resurrected Crawdad festival, now the Cajun & Blues Festival.. The original Festival had been illegally sold to a group in Red Bluff California by the former Chamber officials who disbanded and then went to work for the Red Bluff group, and now basically run the show up there. The sale is still under investigation. The former chamber principles may have a Hand or two in this new debacle.
Jean Yokotobi, outgoing president of the new and improved chamber revived the old festival as the Cajun Festival. The first year of 2011 it was a success. But last year due to a heat wave and fewer resources, they lost money. This year is going to determine if the festival can be saved and taken back to it's original heights of success, without the former out of control alcoholic induced violence that marked the old festival. Under the direction of Jean Yakatobi, the new and improved family oriented festival has had zero violent incidents.
This year the chamber has pulled out all stops with big name headliner Elvin Bishop and many other top draw entertainers. However, if they don't make money this year, this could be the last event.The opposition to the Chamber's efforts are a small group who want to takeover the event. Local politics aside, this years event should be the best ever. The Isleton Chamber of Commerce is not only trying to save the festival and it's tradition, which is important to Sacramento Delta Tourism, it is saving face for the good citizens of this small delta community. Festival link...http://isletoncajunfestival.net/