A highlight among festival season in south Louisiana, Festival Acadiens et Créoles, runs Friday through Sunday in Girard Park in Lafayette. 

The event kicks off with the annual cutting of the boudin at 5 p.m. Friday, followed by music from Bonsoir, Catin at the Scène Ma Louisiane stage.

The music continues Saturday and Sunday with Cajun, Creole and zydeco bands performing across multiple stages, from 10:30 a.m. to around 8 p.m. The event also includes a Bayou Food Festival, the Louisiana Craft Fair, cooking demonstrations, a French Mass and Tour Des Atakapas duathlon.

Another Friday night performer is Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys. Like many festivalgoers, the musicians have memories of past Festival Acadiens et Créoles they can't shake. Broussard's memorable moment played out during a reunion gig of a disbanded zydeco band you may well have heard — Zydeco Force. 

Broussard had been playing the festival for years when Zydeco Force was in operation. Now, with the Creole Cowboys, he has remained a festival fixture.  

Broussard thanks God for his talent, and when he takes the stage.

"It’s all about pleasing the people, seeing the people happy, man, and giving back to my culture," he said. 

A frisson moment for Broussard came when festival officials urged a Zydeco Force reunion in 2012. 

“Zydeco Force had been broken up for quite some time,” Broussard said. “They contacted us and wanted us to do a reunion. Knowing that the band had been broken up for a while, I didn’t expect to see the crowd that I’d seen."

When the Opelousas band took the stage, Broussard said he was blown away by the response.  

“I mean, we pretty much shut down all the other stages because we had so many people out there, man,” he said. 

Terry Huval, the fiddler for the Cajun band Jambalaya, is also no stranger to Festival Acadiens et Créoles. Huval's fondest memory from the event occurred when he wasn't even on stage with his band. 

Huval’s involvement in the festival goes back to 1978, just four years after the inaugural call to arms, legs and ears for the event. 

Huval and Jambalaya played their first festival as part of an initiative to find a rare cadre of solely young musicians playing Cajun music together in bands.

“You could find young musicians playing, but for the most part, they were playing with older musicians,” Huval said of that first gig. “Our original Jambalaya band probably had an average age of about 21 years old. That was as young as it got."

There is a memory Huval can’t quite shake that was imprinted during Jambalaya’s country music phase when the band did not play the festival during the 1980s.

“It was probably mid-’80s, and there was a band playing that I thought played really well,” Huval said. “They weren’t from around home, so I went closer to the stage, and they told me Bruce Daigrepont was playing.

“I’m right in front of the stage just watching him. You know Bruce. He likes to stretch that accordion, he likes to have fun with it and so forth,” Huval said. “And so, at one point, he looks down at me, he says, ‘You’re Terry Huval.’ I said, ‘How do you know that?’ He says, ‘You’re the reason why I’m here.' "

Huval said Daigrepont explained that his father brought him to Festivals Acadiens the year Jambalaya played.

“‘When I saw y’all playing, I said, ‘I want to do that, too,’ ” Huval recalled Daigrepont telling him. “Man, that was a shock. Bruce and I have become very good friends ever since.”

When the very same Jambalaya ensemble that performed in the late ’70s takes to Scène Mon Héritage at noon Saturday, in their trademark red suspenders caps, it will be without the grin and share of D.L. Menard.

A songwriter and guitarist best known for “The Back Door” and known to many as the "Cajun Hank Williams," Menard died in July. He was 85.

“This is probably the first time in a long time that we’ve had the stage by ourselves,” Huval said of Saturday's show. “For us, typically, in the last couple of decades, we’ve had D.L. Menard with us for all of our shows.

“I think about him so often; just the things he would tell me, the fun times we had,” Huval said. “We’re going to miss him a lot.”


FESTIVAL ACADIENS ET CRÉOLES 

WHEN: Starting 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday 

WHERE: Girard Park, 500 Girard Park Drive, Lafayette

COST: Free

INFO: festivalacadiens.com 


THE MUSIC

Friday 

At Scène Ma Louisiane 

5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Bonsoir, Catin 

7:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.: Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys 

Saturday 

At Scène Ma Louisiane

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Mid City Aces 

11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.: Wayne & Same Ol' 2 Step 

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Marc à Paul à Jos 

2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.: Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys 

4 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Richard Lebouef & Two Step 

5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.: Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys 

6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.: Roddie Romero and the Hub City All Stars 

At Scène Mon Héritage

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.: Plaquemine Brûlée 

Noon to 1 p.m.: Jambalaya 

1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.: Jourdan Thibodeaux & Les Rôdailleurs 

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters

3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.: Savoy Family 

5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Horace Trahan and the Ossun Express 

At Salle de Danse

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Kyle Huval and the Dixie Club Ramblers 

11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.: Donnie Broussard and the Louisiana Stars 

1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.: High Performance + Accordion Kings 

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Paul Daigle and Cajun Gold 

3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.: Terry and the Zydeco Bad Boys 

5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Traiteurs Reunion 

At Atelier

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Stories with Mitch Reed, Barry Ancelet, Bill Matthews and Jim Phillips 

12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.: Reinventing the Accordion with Marc Savoy, Randy Falcon and Junior Martin 

2 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Guitars and amps with Sonny Landreth, Sam Broussard and Roddie Romero, moderated by Pat Mould 

3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Luthiers playing their own instruments with Matthew Doucet, Anya Burgess and Ed Poulard, moderated by Chris Segura 

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Jason Frey and Lagniappe 

At Anniversary Stage

11 a.m. to noon: Kegan Navarre and Louisiana Traditions 

12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.: T'Monde

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Chris Ardoin and Nu Step 

2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.: Balfa Toujours 

4 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Travis Matte and the Kingpins 

5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.: Feufollet 

At Jam Ça!

Noon to 1:15 p.m.: Kyle Huval 

1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.: Terry Domingue 

3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Sheryl Cormier 

4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Ryan Brunet 

Sunday

At Scène Ma Louisiane

10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: The Pot Luck Band 

11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.: The Magnolia Sisters 

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners 

2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.: Lil' Nathan and the Zydeco Big Timers 

3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Jo-El Sonnier 

4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.: Charivari Reunion 

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Wayne Toups & ZydeCajun 

At Scène Mon Héritage 

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.: Huval-Fuselier Cajun Band 

Noon to 1 p.m.: Babineaux Sisters 

1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.: Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie 

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Rusty Metoyer & the Zydeco Krush 

3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.: BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet 

5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas 

At Salle de Danse

9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.: French Mass 

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.: Jesse Legé and Bayou Brew 

Noon to 1 p.m.: Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band 

1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.: Robert Jardell and Pure Cajun 

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole 

3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.: Gregg Martinez & the Delta Kings 

At Atelier

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Steel guitars with Marty Broussard, Richard Comeaux and Kyle Huval, moderated by Josh Caffery 

12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m: Fiddle Kings, hosted by Steve Riley 

2 p.m. to 3 p.m.: The Falcons and The Breauxs with Wade Falcon and Dr. Barry Ancelet 

3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Courtbouillon 

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Ballads & Jurés with Cedric Watson, Kristi Guillory and Megan Brown, moderated by David Greely 

At Anniversary Stage

12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.: Lee Benoit and the Family Band 

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Les Ferrailles 

2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.: Lost Bayou Ramblers 

4 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Preston Frank and the Frank Family Band 

5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.: Pine Leaf Boys 

At Jam Ça!

Noon to 1:15 p.m.: Ragin' Steppers with Lil' Nathan 

1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.: Angelles Aces with Kristi Guillory 

3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Wilson Savoy 


WHILE YOU'RE THERE, TRY THIS FOOD 

One of the greatest parts of Festival Acadiens et Créoles is the Bayou Food Festival situated in the middle of all the music and arts. Here are some dishes you can sample while enjoying the good times. 

  • Smothered pork or fried chicken plate lunch from Acadian Superette 
  • Crawfish/spinach boat from Bon Creole Seafoods 
  • Gelato and New Orleans style iced coffee from Carpe Diem! 
  • Cracklins and boudin from Charlie T's Specialty Meats 
  • Boudin pizza burger from Deano's Pizza 
  • Brisket burrito from Taco Sisters 
  • Boudin pesto hand pie from Acadian Slice Pies 
  • Vegan French macarons from Karmacarons 
  • Gator on a stick from Cajuns Unlimited Concessions 
  • Fried eggplant seafood volcano from Big Wil & the Warden 

— Matthew Sigur contributed to this article.