THE 85TH IRF PRESIDENT
CHIEF LOUIS "BUDDHA" ROMERO
The 85th International Rice Festival has selected Chief Louis “Buddha” Romero as President to preside over the 2022 festivities. The annual, admission free event is the oldest and largest agricultural festival in Louisiana. This year’s festival will be held October 20th to October 23rd in downtown Crowley.
Louis grew up in the small community of Coteau, Louisiana, raised by his dad, Louis J. Romero (LJ) and his mother, Earline Estave Romero. Growing up in Coteau, on the outskirts of New Iberia, Louis helped on the family livestock farm. Louis has vivid recollections of feeding the animals daily and attending livestock sales alongside his beloved grandfather. He grew up surrounded by cousins in the rural area, making fond memories of hunting, fishing, and being outdoors.
He served the community of Coteau from a young age as a junior firefighter until the age of 18 when he became a Volunteer Firefighter for the New Iberia Parish Fire District #1. Louis graduated from New Iberia Senior High School in 1994. After high school, he worked at Office Mart/General Office Supply for three years before being employed three years in the oil industry as an x-ray technician. During this time, he met the love of his life and now wife, Monique Hall-Romero of Crowley. Many evenings were spent driving, the over forty miles one way, to see her. And thus began his love-relationship with this wonderful city of Crowley, immersing himself into the history and culture of the Rice Capital.
Monique encouraged Louis to follow his dreams of being a professional in the fire service, and in 1999, he was hired onto the Crowley Fire Department. In 2000, Louis graduated from the Louisiana State University Fire and Emergency Training Institute. Shortly after in 2001, Monique and Louis were married, making Crowley their permanent home with their two fur babies, Ashes and Bella. Louis worked his way through the ranks and was appointed Crowley Fire Chief in October of 2020. His adoring family looked on, as this honor had been whole-heartedly pursued.
Over the past 23 years, Louis’ love for the City of Crowley is evident through his involvement within the community. His contribution to the International Rice Festival began in 2007, where he served on the Transportation Committee, as Chairman of the Presidential Party, Chairman of Security Committee, and as Vice Chair of the Stage Setup committee. Louis’ contributions to the city span beyond the International Rice Festival as he is also a member of Rotary and Kiwanis Organizations. Louis has served on the Civil Service Commission for the City of Crowley as the Fire Department Representative for 16 years. He held the office of chairman for the last 10 years until his resignation in 2020, following his promotion of the Crowley Fire Chief.
Louis also takes great pride in being passionately immersed in his profession. In addition to serving as the Chief of Crowley’s Fire Department, Louis serves on the Louisiana Firefighter’s Retirement Board and holds the office of Vice President of the Professional Firefighters of Louisiana. Louis serves on the Board of Directors for Louisiana Fire and Emergency Training Academy (FETA). He is also an active member of both the Louisiana and Acadia Fire Chief’s Association.
Louis gives all the glory to God for the opportunities he has been presented with and the accomplishments he has been able to conquer. He plans to continue to serve the City of Crowley, a place he loves and calls home. Louis and his wife, Monique, want to extend their deepest thanks to the volunteers, vendors, law enforcement, firefighters, and guests for making the festival a success year after year. To the dedicated farmers of Louisiana: we would not have this celebration without your hard work and perseverance to the Rice Industry.