A celebration of all things Cajun drew hundreds of revelers to Girard Park in Lafayette on Saturday, some from as far away as France, Japan and Germany, to enjoy a taste of the region’s unique food, culture and music.
As a Cajun band performing for the crowd from the main stage put it (in French, of course): “Welcome to Lafayette, Louisiana, where everyone is Cajun!”
Those attending Festivals Acadiens et Créoles got to feast on étouffée, jambalaya and other Cajun and Creole dishes, washing them down with cold beer while enjoying foot-moving zydeco music and traditional Cajun tunes.
Three teachers from France — Sarah Capouet, Sophie Dubreil and Aurelie Pierrard — volunteered on Saturday to sell festival merchandise.
Although natives of France, they are teaching in schools in Louisiana. They said the festival celebrates and helps keep alive the state’s Cajun and Creole culture and that it’s important for them to be involved with the state’s French-speaking community.
Under the Atelier tent, musicians shared the local culture in a more intimate setting than the main stage. Sitting in front a few rows of chairs, the musicians took questions and song requests from the audience.
Before each song, explanations and histories of the songs were given.
Wilson Savoy, a member of the Pine Leaf Boys band, was part of one of the workshops that focused on the piano styles of Louisiana.
Savoy said the festival feels something like a family reunion. After he and many members of the local music community spend the year traveling and playing around the world, he said, it is great to all gather for the festival and play music.
“People look forward to the festival all year long,” he said. “It’s a free festival, put on by sponsors and beer and food sales.”
And this being Cajun country, beer and food were in no short supply.
Booths that filled the park supplied fried seafood, jambalaya, boudin, beignets and other treats. Meanwhile, Bayou Teche brewing out of Arnaudville had a booth set up selling some of its brews — a tent was filled, partly because of the beer and partly because of the flat-screen TVs playing college football.
The festival grounds were a sea of vermilion and white, dotted with purple and gold, as the crowd happily celebrated all things Cajun on a sunny Saturday afternoon.