Porch and Parish The Podcast

Inside the Louisiana Night Jam with Jay Bennett

April 08, 2024 Porch & Parish
Inside the Louisiana Night Jam with Jay Bennett
Porch and Parish The Podcast
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Porch and Parish The Podcast
Inside the Louisiana Night Jam with Jay Bennett
Apr 08, 2024
Porch & Parish

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Step behind the scenes at the awe-inspiring Louisiana Night Jam with  Jay Bennett, and hear firsthand from two-time champion Hannah Stralsova about the high-flying world of water ski jumping. This episode peels back the curtain on the sheer spectacle and athletic prowess on display at Bennett's Water Ski and Wakeboard School. Feel the pulse of the crowd and the roar of the skis as we delve into what makes this event a magnet for thrill-seekers and spectators alike.

 As we project into the future of the Night Jam, we confront the economic realities of sustaining a world-class event and the relentless pursuit of sponsorship to fuel athletes' dreams. Join us for a conversation that does more than scratch the surface; it goes deep into the heart of what keeps the water skiing community and its premier events soaring.

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Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Step behind the scenes at the awe-inspiring Louisiana Night Jam with  Jay Bennett, and hear firsthand from two-time champion Hannah Stralsova about the high-flying world of water ski jumping. This episode peels back the curtain on the sheer spectacle and athletic prowess on display at Bennett's Water Ski and Wakeboard School. Feel the pulse of the crowd and the roar of the skis as we delve into what makes this event a magnet for thrill-seekers and spectators alike.

 As we project into the future of the Night Jam, we confront the economic realities of sustaining a world-class event and the relentless pursuit of sponsorship to fuel athletes' dreams. Join us for a conversation that does more than scratch the surface; it goes deep into the heart of what keeps the water skiing community and its premier events soaring.

Support the Show.

Jay Bennett:

Hi, I'm Jay Bennett from Bennett's Water Ski School and Wakeboard School in Zachary Louisiana.

Hannah Braslova:

Hi, I'm Hannah Stralsova.

Jay Bennett:

And we're glad to have you here today for Porch and Parish podcast.

Mike Gennaro:

Hey, zachary, if you're new to town and looking forward to spring and summer events, we've got one to put on your calendar Louisiana Night Jam at Bennett's Water Ski and Wakeboard School in Zachary. What you say In skepticism, we have an international ski school in Zachary that is also utilized by collegiate level competitors, yep, and we're going to learn all about it and how you can help make this year's event a huge success. I'm Mike Gennaro, publisher of Porch and Parish. We bring you the best of Zachary and the Development North region through candid conversations every Monday from our headquarters right here on Virginia Street. Hannah, can you say? This is Porch and Parish, the podcast in Russian.

Mike Gennaro:

Yes, Perfect, stay tuned. We'll be right back with the lightning round. Oh perfect, stay tuned.

Speaker 4:

We'll be right back with the lightning round. Invest in you. The East Baton Rouge Parish Library connects people to information, resources, technology and experiences to make a positive difference in their lives. Stop by one of our 14 locations today or visit us online at ebrplcom.

Mike Gennaro:

All right and we are back with the lightning round guys. Thank you so much for being here on the second floor of what we affectionately call the press. Uh, 4512 virginia street in zachary. Um, you said you used to know the owners, so lightning around.

Jay Bennett:

Question number one well, mike, I believe it's been owned by a lot of people through the last few years, but I wanted to tell you thank you for having us today. I love your new setup. Excited to be here today, yeah there's a lot of people through the last few years, but I wanted to tell you thank you for having us today. I love your new setup. Excited to be here today.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, there's a lot of good energy in our downtown renaissance. You know, zachary's always in a renaissance moment as far as I'm concerned, and Hannah, just before we get in too deep here, I want to introduce you as a renowned skier, so tell us what your favorite trick to watch is during Night Jam.

Hannah Braslova:

I compete in Night Jam. I won last two years.

Mike Gennaro:

Yes.

Hannah Braslova:

It's very exciting to compete in this event. I think all skiers love it and it's also exciting to watch and for spectators. I think it's amazing For any age, for families with kids. People just come out there, relax and enjoy the outdoor sport.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, all right. Well, what is your favorite trick to participate in? Do you have a personal favorite?

Hannah Braslova:

My favorite is water ski jumping.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah.

Hannah Braslova:

Like distance jumping.

Mike Gennaro:

That's where y'all go super high up in the air. That's my favorite one to watch.

Hannah Braslova:

Yes, that's what we do at night, at night jump.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, and how high do you get on a vertical?

Hannah Braslova:

It's the distance.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah.

Hannah Braslova:

So my personal best is 192 feet.

Mike Gennaro:

That's a lot of feet yeah. That's far, that's very far. I've seen you do it last year. All right, jay, most memorable personal or as a spectator wipeout you've witnessed at Night Jam, or do y'all not celebrate wipeouts?

Jay Bennett:

Well, you know, it's kind of like nascar. Everybody sits there and watches nascar waiting for somebody to wreck yeah, but they're not in it. So the water ski jumping, which is very extreme, very high speed, you know we don't want anybody to get hurt, but they're. They're going to be crashes, yeah and uh. We also have freestyle jumpers and freestyle barefooters, so seeing people take hits through the course of the night is not unusual yeah, yeah, got it all right.

Mike Gennaro:

One piece of advice for newcomers to night jam well, I'd like to see you get there early.

Jay Bennett:

Gates open at 5 30. We have entertainment through the evening. Actual show will start probably around 7 30 but, just like any festival, it's basically a festival atmosphere. Yeah, we've got food trucks, we've got entertainment, we've got bands playing, and so we want you to come out, bring your lounge chairs and relax and and have a good evening. Yeah, I love it. Uh, ice chest rules. No ice chest. Unfortunately, we've got uh concessions on on site and uh, we appreciate you if you don't bring any ice chest.

Jay Bennett:

Unfortunately, we've got concessions on site and we appreciate you if you don't bring any ice chest in. But, it's a very, very inexpensive night of entertainment $20 a car load. We don't care if you bring a bus load, just $20 for every vehicle that comes in.

Mike Gennaro:

You don't get excited about the crowds too, right?

Jay Bennett:

So crowds are encouraged yeah, when we got, when we started this event quite a few years ago, it built into uh something that zachary people really like to come to really enjoy, yeah and uh. So the crowds have gotten better and better and for the skiers out there, you know, really risking their life. We we build everything around the long-distance jumping because that's where your prize money is. It's $27,000 in prize money and it's built around the jumping event even though we're doing a festival-type atmosphere. The louder the people are, the noisier they are and they get pumped up by our announcer, tony Lightfoot, there. Yeah.

Mike Gennaro:

We got Tony in the booth.

Jay Bennett:

He is the promoter type, or tell me, let's introduce tony well, tony's been with us for a long time and, uh, he is world renowned as a announcer for all the pro tour stops all the way around the world. He, he does podcasts, he takes care of our website, he does a lot of our social media promotions and also works as an instructor at our school. So Tony has a lot of hats he wears.

Speaker 5:

Yeah.

Mike Gennaro:

Go ahead, Tony.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, I am the wearer of all of those hats to which Jay very, very eloquently alluded to, hats to which Jay very, very eloquently alluded to. Yeah, instructor quote unquote promoter of LA Night Jam. And I also travel across the world generally promoting water skiing with a number of events worldwide, but LA Night Jam by far is the event that I really really get excited for, you know, because it's water ski jumping, you know. I mean I mean you've got great athletes, you know, in the women's competition jumping in excess of 190 feet, as Hannah alluded to just a little bit earlier. And then the men, they're just going absolutely crazy on that jump there, with the increased boat speed and ramp height. On that jump there, with the increased boat speed and ramp height, I mean they jump upwards of 240 feet.

Speaker 5:

You know we actually have the unofficial nighttime world men's jump record with that distance of 240 feet and that is held by Freddy Krueger, who makes an annual return every single year. You know he's an LSU grad, he graduated with an MBA, you know, and you know's an lsu grad, he graduated with a, with with an mba. You know, and you know we'd love to have him here, you know, because he gives the young guns a really, really big run, run for their money yeah, if I tell my kids frederick kruger is showing up, they might not come, but I'll have to explain his proper name is frederick IV, but Freddy Kruger is the.

Speaker 5:

Are you serious, yeah?

Mike Gennaro:

Oh, frederick August, Okay, yes, that's amazing. I'm really glad we just mic'd you up because you weren't mic'd before, so feel free to have input. Could be a bad thing there.

Jay Bennett:

Yeah, I know Tony likes to talk more than me.

Mike Gennaro:

Can I be your assistant, tony? I like to talk as well. Something about just being mic'd in a podcast.

Jay Bennett:

my inner extrovert comes out all of a sudden and says Well, we'll bring you out there and let you commentate with him.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, please bring me to the booth.

Speaker 5:

It'll be an experience. I can trust you that.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, all right, um shoot, I'm gonna give one more to to uh to you then.

Speaker 5:

So top song to play at night jam uh, enter Sandman by Metallica hands down, yeah, I love it All.

Mike Gennaro:

right, um, jay, since you're the, you're the official promoter of the event favorite post-night jam, snack or meal when everything is done.

Jay Bennett:

Oh, absolutely In the VIP area. All the food and drinks you can have, you can't beat that.

Mike Gennaro:

Perfect, perfect, all right, well played, all right. And you know, weather is always an event when you have an out uh, it's always a factor when you have an outdoor event. Last year you couldn't have had a moment of worse weather, but y'all pulled it back together we were lucky.

Jay Bennett:

Yeah, unfortunately, a pretty heavy storm came through. Yeah, uh, didn't do too much damage. Yeah, and, what I'm most proud of, we had a good crowd in there, yeah, and the people went back to their cars instead of leaving. I'd say 90 of them waited the storm out. Yeah, came back out, and it's great for the, for the guys competing too yeah, sure to have the people you know waited out and come back out there?

Jay Bennett:

yeah so we survived and yeah, anytime. I've done so many events in 40 years at that facility and, knock on wood, we've been fortunate through the years with weather. Yeah, uh, the downside of the weather last year the crowd stopped coming in yeah, yeah it was a really good flow and it looked like it was going to really pack the house, and so that was unfortunate. But I was really pleased that people stuck with us and came back out there and cheered the skiers on.

Speaker 5:

Yeah but that was the nice thing about having the local crowd, the local zachary crowd, you know, I mean, I mean we. I mean we look upon it with a sense of pride, don't we?

Speaker 5:

yes that you know that we thought that we had the event, you know, then, then, then, the heavens opened up and then they all, they're I mean you can just imagine the scene of of all of those people like walking back into into their previously held spots and, uh, finishing off the event with us. You know, it was, uh, it was really something to behold, you know, and, uh, I very much doubt that other similar events can, can hold that same distinction, you know yeah, yeah, excellent, all right, all right, let's get into some more, uh, deeper questions here.

Mike Gennaro:

Just, jay, can you share with us the origin story of Bennett's Water Ski School and Night Jam? So what inspired you to create the event? What inspired you to create the school?

Jay Bennett:

Well, the school was created for our love for the sport. Years and years ago, I grew up on a body of water not far from here called Falls River Most locals know that facility and then I was encouraged at a young age to create a ski school, which was non-heard of back then, yeah, and for some reason, you know, it was something that did entertain myself and my wife and we decided to get that started at a very young age. So we had a water ski school, starting when I was 22 years of age, yeah, and we just built it from there. Now, the origin of night jam is a very interesting story.

Jay Bennett:

One of our friends and clients had brought groups over here from england. His name is stewart morrison. He started a night event in england that became very, very successful, based on the same theory that I was talking to you about earlier, about doing something at night where people have time and want to go do something fun, and so we just kind of piggybacked on his idea and built it to what it built into here, and we were very fortunate that it was something Zachary opened their arms up to and really decided to support it, both from a financial standpoint and also from a attendance standpoint. Yeah, and very, very pleased that we've always had good support from the city of Zachary for that event.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, excellent, all right. So, turning to the support of the event, you know this is important to talk about because this is the lifeblood of the event. It's not all about just getting truckloads of folks in there having fun and bringing that energy up. It's also about corporate sponsorships, partnerships with your city and local organizations like that that want to have a hand in promoting economic development, which, let's speak to that part of what this event means to Zachary.

Jay Bennett:

Well, I'd love to do that.

Jay Bennett:

You know there's so many events you being a small business owner, myself being a small business owner we have to pick and choose the different things that we can sponsor because there's so many people knocking at all of our doors and we're the same way when we go to people trying to create sponsorship for Night Jam, we've got to show them the value in the event, both for their customer base, their employee base and just for backing an event that brings so much national and international attendance or appearance to the city of Zachary because we do do a live webcast. It's worldwide. Yeah, so we understand how hard it is for people to sponsor everything, but we really do appreciate the sponsors that we have and unfortunately, our industry the water sports and water ski industry, boat industry is not in great shape right now, like some areas of the economy, yeah, and so sponsorship dollars are coming harder than normal and it's even more appreciative that people help out. It doesn't have to be a lot of money, you know every little bit helps, yeah. So that's kind of the word and kind of what I'd like to get out to people.

Jay Bennett:

Yeah, if you'd like the event, there's so many ways you can help Telling your customer base about the event, helping us market it and get the word out. We don't have a lot of dollars for actually spending money on advertising. That's one way to do it. Our VIP area is a great way for you to entertain your customers or your workers. Buy a VIP ticket through our website and send your friends and customers and workers into the VIP area. It's a great bang for the buck, yeah.

Mike Gennaro:

I was in there. It really is.

Jay Bennett:

It's got the best viewing, it's got great food and it's got pretty much unlimited drinks. I was going to say that's important. It is We've got to have music, we've got to have food and we've got to have drinks. Yeah, totally, totally.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, oh, all right, my kid. You know we were in the VIP area last year and my kids still wanted to go get like cotton candy and all, and then you know, move within and without this VIP area. So there's something great at every corner you turn at this event and I really also like the venue. So it's this kind of narrower strip of land. It's not like Jazz Fest where it's just acres of land where you'll probably never see the same person twice but you're walking past your friends and neighbors and all these cool people from all parts of Louisiana and I think that kind of makes the event a little bit more intimate and fun.

Jay Bennett:

The vision when we started building the place was to be able to promote and host events. Yeah, so spectator appeal was very, very important. Yeah, and so, as you were saying, where the majority of the crowd is, they're almost on the water? Yeah, they're not, but about 150 feet from where these jumpers are landing or any of the fast, high-end stuff that's going by the barefooters, stuff like that, so you can feel that energy you don't get splashed, though.

Mike Gennaro:

No, it's not like SeaWorld.

Jay Bennett:

Maybe, so Maybe so. We may do that this year, you know? Yeah, that would be fun, but you can feel the energy on the water and add the music and the festival activities and it's just high impact all night.

Mike Gennaro:

You should have a roped-off splash zone where the skiers can do like a whoosh, and these are the people who don't mind getting wet and have a little extra fun.

Jay Bennett:

We'll put Hannah in charge of that this year. Good idea.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, yeah, totally Put a little webcam in there too, that'd be fun. Okay, just full of ideas and no action over here from me oh that's good, I love it, that's good, All right. So for those unfamiliar, could you walk us through just the parking getting there? You know I always harp on this stuff. I feel like I'm an old man, Like when I go. I want to know exactly where the restrooms are, how many. Where am I going to park, you know, for ADA accessibility, how is that going to work?

Jay Bennett:

It's a great question. But, you know, we put out an unbelievable number of signs.

Mike Gennaro:

That's our hotline. Actually, somebody's calling in to sponsor the event right now. Mr Lightfoot, will you take that in the background?

Speaker 5:

Yeah, yeah, I'll get on the horn.

Mike Gennaro:

Yes, yes.

Jay Bennett:

Like me, it's okay. Forgot to turn it off.

Mike Gennaro:

No, it's actually my neighbor calling in Mike Fontenot with a $500 donation cash.

Speaker 5:

I know Mike.

Mike Gennaro:

I swear he's good for it. I think Benzer is calling in as well with $1,000 cash. Keep them coming.

Speaker 5:

When you get to our facility.

Jay Bennett:

You'll have parking attendants put you in the right place and there'll be signs everywhere. And it's not a large layout. It's pretty, pretty filtered into the area that you got to go to, so it's not like you're gonna get lost it's guided parking too. Somebody's watching you guided parking and, uh, a lot of signage, so you find your way. One entrance, you know it's not hard to to make your way around, yeah and and once again, the entrance p is per vehicle.

Speaker 5:

So I mean, if so, I mean if you're coming in a rate in a regular car, that's fine. If you're coming in with a, with a minivan, and you want to stuff as many people in there, it's. It's the same whether you come in on a motorcycle, whether you come in in in a 15-person passenger van if you wanted to.

Mike Gennaro:

All right, school buses as well.

Speaker 5:

I'll take school buses all day long.

Mike Gennaro:

All right, let's talk a little bit about. We mentioned the collegiate athletic piece, so this is something that's not widely known to your layman spectators out there. I mean, this place has hosted some world-class athletes, especially at the collegiate level. What is the state of the sport today?

Jay Bennett:

I think the majority of your growth is in collegiate water skiing. It's a big part of our business. Hannah's a perfect example, tony also. Tony graduated from ULL and skied on a scholarship. Hannah graduated with her master's degree from ULM, skied on a scholarship.

Jay Bennett:

So in collegiate water skiing we don't really have a definition or a distinction between pros and amateurs. So your two strongest programs, which we've talked about before, are out of ULM, north Louisiana and also ULL. Those are your two powerhouses. Yeah, and for years and years and years ULM made 29 national championships and now ULL has a lot of leverage and they've won 10 national championships. So a lot of our international people come to Louisiana to go to school on those scholarships and in turn, some of our staff is from those two schools also.

Mike Gennaro:

Got it. Does LSU and Southern have a water skiing presence at all?

Jay Bennett:

We have had really good teams and good presence at LSU through the years. These four-year programs are basically built on who passes the leadership on, because they're intramural sports, except at the scholarship schools and somewhere like LSU, strictly intermedial, intermural sports. So it's there's no programs out there now for wakeboarding or for water skiing, but since the 70s we had had programs, some pretty good programs. It was at its highest level about 1987. Okay, the lsu water ski team, male and female, finished fourth in the nation. Keep listening, we'll be right back.

Mike Gennaro:

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Mike Gennaro:

Well, you give her more credit than you give yourself, but it was um.

Jay Bennett:

It may be a little boring, but no for me. Mine started from my family being involved in a boat club, ski club on open body water called false river, yeah, and so I was a very young age. I got to start getting on the water and learning how to ski. And then we got introduced by some neighbors to what competitive water skiing was, and for me it just kind of went from there.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah.

Jay Bennett:

Once we developed it into a business. My wife and I developed it into a business. Everyone in the family competed and all of our partners competed, and that was the nucleus of what we did out at Tri-Lakes.

Hannah Braslova:

Yeah.

Jay Bennett:

And as we've gone through the years, oh, there's another one.

Mike Gennaro:

I thought I'd turn it off.

Jay Bennett:

No, as we've gone through the years, it's just flourished from that point on it's my mom donating her social security check this month. Thank you, mom you know, probably don't get any phone calls until we get in a situation like this, it's great there's key phone coming everyone. I think that's what's happening, Mike. They're hearing your podcast and they're sending in money.

Mike Gennaro:

Oh, maybe we will get on the NPR model one day with this thing. So all right, Now Mike Lee. When did you meet Mike Lee? Because this is a locally famous name and, of course, his daughter is even more famous as the PE coach at Copper Mill.

Jay Bennett:

Mike and his wife Nikki went to work for me for one year at a school that I partnered with some people in Tyler, texas. We knew Mike. Mike got into competition water skiing with his friends. Well, after I'd been in it for a long, long time, yeah. But when we decided we were going to move back to Louisiana, we said you guys want to move back with us? Yeah, and they said, well, we don't have anywhere to go. So they ended up coming over here and their partner's in the facility.

Mike Gennaro:

So this is like your friend, your partner, and he lives like across the lake from you over here. It's like a compound sort of. It's just this oasis of good vibes over there that y'all created it all came from the competition world of water skiing.

Jay Bennett:

Yeah, mike's wife nikki, she is like tony is and announcing she is the go-to for the chief judge to be the chief judge for most all of the pro events all over. So it's that that it's hard to believe. Right here in zachary we have, yeah, that kind of talent. But building the ski school around all these families that are involved in water skiing is why we have the number of judges high end skiers, family atmosphere type situation yeah, perfect.

Mike Gennaro:

And speaking of of talent and current talent right now, hannah, can you talk a little bit about your career in skiing and what bennett's has meant to you? And especially like, how did you get here? You have a russian accent. There's a story, right?

Hannah Braslova:

well, I'm originally from belarus and I started skiing in belarus when I seven and back home it's a little different program there. So once you sign up for a sport you kind of take it seriously and you ride away like professional and you have to advance and work hard, otherwise you finish, you're done with the sport that is different.

Mike Gennaro:

I mean, there's some tournament ball clubs out there that are kind of like that in Zachary.

Hannah Braslova:

Yeah, not much Just joking everyone.

Mike Gennaro:

Recreational at home?

Hannah Braslova:

Yeah, and I went to do my undergrad back home and then I finished it and then I'm like, oh, what do I do now? And then I found Monroe, that they had a wonderful ski team. So my American journey started over there. And then I had a summer class so I had to stay like in the States during summer. So I found this ski school and I applied to work for Jay and that's how I ended up being here for a few years, a few, how many has it been? It's been six years, yeah, excellent.

Mike Gennaro:

Excellent. All right, let's talk a little bit about the technical side of Night Jam. You guys pull this off like it looks like a well-oiled machine after so many years. Right, but you know what really goes into the planning and the audio everything getting the athletes all to one place at one time.

Jay Bennett:

There is definitely a procedure there. First of all, once you know you're going to do the event, it goes on to a schedule which all the skiers are aware of, and we try to spread out the events to where we don't have conflicts with other pro events. That's kind of the starting point of it. Once the event is published and people know that we're having the event, behind the scenes stuff is where we have to work really hard. It's normally at least six months out going through the sponsorship, going through the marketing part of it. But once we finally bring the people into the event, that's the part that nobody really understands how technical it really is.

Jay Bennett:

Even though we're putting on a water sports show, the jumping is serious because it's for the crash prize. It's professionals doing it, and so the technical side of the sport is really crazy. We've got a lot of computers in that building. We're actually judging the distance by taking camera pictures of the landing and then it computes back into a computer and tells them, tells the judges, what that distance is. Yeah, so it's coordinated, with the announcers listening in headsets, waiting for the score to come up on the scoreboard, and then the whole process is where everybody in unison working together. But that's one of the things I was telling you we're so fortunate about is because we have so many high-end people that are capable of putting on a professional event.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah.

Jay Bennett:

And it is very professional. It's not an amateur operation, yeah.

Speaker 5:

And speaking towards the accuracy and what we do there, from a technical point of view, at Jumpin' last year, during the men's competition, you, from a technical point of view, were jumping. Last year during the men's competition first time ever we had like a four-way tie for a specific distance in the metric system. Oh no.

Speaker 5:

Yes, which we went on back counting from the preliminary round, you know. But I mean, it was just an unheard of situation where you have all of those jumpers, like four jumpers land into within the… Centimeters. Yeah, centimeters like within the space of like. If you take a 12-inch ruler within three inches, no way.

Jay Bennett:

If you were on the outside looking in and you knew how the technical side of it works. People that were viewing the webcasts that are technical controllers. They're going. This is impossible. This is all by play. They're trying to play this up for the audience, but it was true straight up that we had to yeah, how could you do that on purpose? I know it's never happened before and I don't think it'll ever happen again. It's just that crazy A four-way tie. Yeah, I mean we're measuring within centimeters right.

Jay Bennett:

How is this not a split between those jumpers? Yeah, but the cameras don't lie.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, that's why we had to go back to the metric system, because that we have done in feet. It's really been a time.

Speaker 5:

Okay, all right, we know you're biased. No, but I mean to that point though. I mean the standards to which we officiate these events and score these events. It's pretty tight and pretty stringent worldwide. So I mean from like the world championships which Hannah won last season. She won the women's World Jump title and she won the Women's Pro Tour title. She personal best last year with 192 feet and she's the World Overall title winner, that title given to the skier that has the best all-round performance in the free event, slalom, trick and jump. So I mean that it's. We've got some world-class talent coming over, you know, and spearheaded by our own hannah straut server yeah awesome awesome.

Mike Gennaro:

Well, that's a good uh lesson for those zachary kids out there to pay attention in math class, if they ever do teach you measuring, which usually gets saved till like the last day of of any uh any school year. You know you get that. Um, anyway, learn your metric system and and the old sae, all right, uh, looking into the future, where do you envision night jam heading? And I know this has got to be a tough one from an entrepreneurial perspective because you've been doing it a while. Right, you said earlier it feels like we've turned every stone trying to improve this event. You know, are there any exciting developments or expansions on the horizon? Any new team members that you know are adding new energy?

Jay Bennett:

Well, it's really based. It's economy-based, you know. Yeah, If the boating industry and the water ski industry turns new energy, Like what? Well, it's really based. It's economy based, you know. Yeah, Uh, if, if the boating industry and the water ski industry turns around which?

Jay Bennett:

all aspects of the economy does normally turn around and we get back to having the same support that we have had in the past. That would make a difference in us being able to continue. Yeah, um, it's, it's all about being able to create enough income to be able to put on the event. Yeah, and so, without sponsorship, we've got to. You know, every year is a new year. Yeah, yeah.

Mike Gennaro:

What can listeners do out there let's say they that not everybody's at the sponsorship level what can they do other than showing up in a bus to help promote this event you mentioned? You make a very tough guerrilla marketing effort and I do give it to you. There are bandit signs everywhere. There's literally, like you said, no stones are unturned. You can hear about this on TV and on rad radios and podcasts.

Jay Bennett:

so well, that's a great question and what we're asking for this year to help us, because there's a limited marketing budget yeah pretty much no limited market budget yeah you're a small business owner, I'm a small business owner.

Jay Bennett:

We've been in business for quite a long time. We have a customer base, so all the businesses out there can really help us. If they just do an e-blast, they go to our website and they pick up some information, or they can contact us and we can send them a little press release. If they'll just send that out to their customer base, you know, a few weeks before our event, which is going to be June 8th.

Jay Bennett:

That helps us tremendously. That helps us get the word out, yeah. And, like I mentioned earlier, these particular businesses, if they want to treat their customer base or treat some of their employees to a nice event, get some passes from me to get in the gate for general admission or buy a vip pass. The thing about the vip pass it will be very limited. It's a hundred people in that area, yeah, and it does sell out, yeah, but I'll be glad to pass on some general admission passes also.

Mike Gennaro:

Great, okay, oh, I wanted to ask you one more thing. I think it was about pricing, but you know what, if people have questions about pricing out there, what website do they go to to sign up and learn about all that?

Jay Bennett:

Yeah, go to wwwlanightjamcom and we're in the process of building it. That's another one of Tony's many jobs, but uh, we're starting to get the information up. Now. We're running a little behind from where we were last year, strictly because of the sponsorship battle, but uh, we're going to pull it off. Yeah, and there's some good information in the in the sponsorship package that tells you about the event, when and where and what to expect. Yeah, and you can read through that without having to be a sponsor, yeah.

Jay Bennett:

And again, when this podcast comes out and you're listening to expect yeah, and you can read through that without having to be a sponsor.

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, and again, when this podcast comes out and you're listening to it, please go that extra step and share the podcast with a friend. Put it on your social media page, because the sponsors are watching all of these things and the more excitement that we can create in Zachary for Zachary. You know, whether it's for a great event like this that helps us with economic development, or just be kind to your teachers out there and promote Zachary Schools and the greatness that's happening there. Promoting our city can lead to amazing economic benefits and a great way of life for all of us. You know we're competing right now on quality of life in Zachary and y'all are just such an amazing part of all that, jay.

Speaker 5:

um, I really am proud that that y'all are over there and and as I alluded to before, you know, I mean Zachary has a real loyal fan base, you know we we saw that last year with with when the weather system came in, you know, and they all went to their cars and then then pretty much all of them came back. So I mean you can do one better than that by being a repeat supporter of this event come June, the 8th this year for LA Night Jam. We'd love to have you back and do us a favor. Bring more of your friends with you, let's stuff the bus, let's bring some more spectators in and just really ramp it up. And if you're a business and looking for a great opportunity to uh, to, to, to really uh treat your employees, you know, or network with other businesses, you know what better way to do it?

Mike Gennaro:

Yeah, perfect. Well said, we could take it out on that and look jay up um whether it's from um you know a need for water ski lessons for your kids to la night jam or more um hit jay up at. Is it okay if I give out your uh?

Mike Gennaro:

absolutely email, okay, absolutely so j j a, y at ski, bennett's. That's two N's, two T'scom. So J a Y at S K I, b, e, n, n, e, t, t Scom. Huge shout out to our community partners like the Zachary, the city of Zachary, who stand with us in our mission to make Zachary a place where every resident feels heard and engaged. Thanks to the generosity and support of our community partners, the magazine, podcast and everything you see online is possible and free because of them. The three T's that make up quality of life. Just in my personal opinion, pick up trash when you see it. Foster tech at any expense and embrace an attitude of tolerance for diverse voices to begin to engage everyone's talents in our community. Those diverse voices are the creative engines that will drive the future success of our economy. Jay, you got anything on quality of life? What do you think defines quality of life?

Jay Bennett:

Well being here. For 40 plus years I've watched the growth of Zachary and I can't think of any nicer city to live in and raise your kids in, and we have so many opportunities. I hear people always talking about what is there to do in Zachary. You need to open your eyes and look around. There's functions almost every weekend for people to be involved with and families to be involved with. Great parks Love to have you out at the ski school when we do these functions. So there are lots of things to do in Zachary and they will continue to add those things to the city and it'll be great growth from here on out.

Mike Gennaro:

And we'll see them all on the pickleball court too. We didn't mention that but Jay's an avid pickleballer. He's a little injured this week with a calf injury.

Jay Bennett:

He's going to come back, you know, always injured. I think you've got a shoulder injury, don't you? I do this is ridiculous.

Mike Gennaro:

I'm 41, with a shoulder injury from an underhand serve. There you go. I need to get tougher. All right, y'all, until next time. This is Mike Gennaro at Fortune Parish signing off. Thank y'all, bye-bye, thank you. Mike, america, sweet America.

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