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Leading the nation's largest international music and arts festival is no small feat, but Scott Feehan '03 is the perfect fit for the job. Feehan is currently the executive director of Festival International de Louisiane. This annual festival has been around for over three decades and brings in over 300,000 visitors yearly to Lafayette, Louisiana, for the five-day cultural celebration. Visitors can expect to find diverse music, handcrafted artwork, and some of the most delicious food throughout the event.
Feehan never imagined when he was a student at UL Lafayette that he would one day lead this organization. He initially came to college thinking he would pursue a career in computer science or electrical engineering. However, when he discovered the business systems analysis and technology track, he realized it was the perfect fit for his career. "My dad was a business owner, so I grew up with a business mindset. That major really offered the mix of technology and business that I was looking for," Feehan said.
Aside from his passion for technology, Feehan also had a passion for music. He was a member of the Pride of Acadiana marching band and spent a lot of his time as a student in Angelle Hall making music. "I felt like I had two different sides to my college life, but both were enjoyable and left an impact," Feehan said.
After graduating, he continued pursuing all his interests: business, technology, and music. He opened a drum shop and partnered with a friend to open a music school in Acadiana. He also started freelancing as an IT consultant and quickly grew his clientele. Through challenges and triumphs, Feehan honed his skills and grew into a strong business professional. All of these lessons prepared him for his biggest challenge yet — leading Festival International de Louisiane.
His journey with Festival began when he started volunteering for the organization in 2009. For the first time, he got a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to put on such an incredible event. "To me, Festival was this magical event that popped up out of the sky and disappeared once a year. I had no clue how it was put on," Feehan said.
He quickly got bit by the Festival bug and started volunteering on the board in several different areas, eventually working his way up to board president in 2015. Two weeks after he took over as president, the executive director resigned. "I told the board that I could volunteer as interim executive director that year, and then we could figure out our next steps moving forward," Feehan said. After that year, Feehan fell in love with the role, and the board fell in love with his vision for the future. He officially became the executive director in 2016 and has served in that position ever since.
Over his tenure, Feehan has navigated some pretty big challenges with Festival International, including pivoting to a virtual event during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. "When the world shut down in 2020, there was no playbook for anyone in our industry. We were the first major event to happen and all eyes were on us to see what we were going to do," Feehan said.
In five weeks, Feehan and his staff put on the very first virtual version of Festival International. It included dynamic programming, community engagement, and all the aspects you would expect to see during the celebration. Even though they had little time to prepare, the team was able to come together and accomplish the unthinkable. They even went on to teach other organizations around the country how to produce virtual programming.
Feehan has felt incredibly honored to be a part of the magic of Festival International over the past few years. "I always think back to where this event started and what it means to the city of Lafayette. It's so cool to be a part of it," Feehan said. As his future unfolds, Feehan hopes to keep working with great people, making a difference, and always pursuing his passions.
Photo Captions: (Main) Executive Director of Festival International de Louisiane Scott Feehan '03 addresses the crowd during the festival's opening ceremonies. Submitted (In Story) Feehan attends a Festival International volunteer party. Submitted