When the fiddles started playing shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday for the Nova Scotian band Unisson’s sound check, Lafayette resident Kay Couvillion couldn’t stop herself from dancing.
After a morning of steady rain and performance cancellations, Couvillion and other revelers at Lafayette’s 29th annual Festival International de Louisiane greeted the start of Saturday’s festivities the only way they knew how — they partied.
Artists from around the world are performing at the free, annual five-day festival. It’s grown since its inception in 1986 and now incorporates eight stages around the downtown Lafayette area, merchandise booths, countless food and drink tents, public art displays as well as live performances that may or may not have been an official part of the lineup.
Saturday morning’s severe weather kept many patrons at home. The attendees who did show up dressed in ponchos and rain jackets and sought shelter in local bars and buildings.
When Unisson finally started their set about 2 p.m., more than two hours after bands were originally slated to start, the crowds were sparse and wet from a light drizzle that still threatened the day.
“Rain or shine, we’re here,” said Couvillion, who said she attends Festival International every day of every year from start to finish. “We’re not going to let the rain keep us from being here. We love the festival.”
But the news wasn’t good for everyone.
At Scène Stabil Drill International across town, Nigerian band Lagbaja brought its high-energy percussive act to a small group of loyal fans, at one point leading the crowd in a spirited chant to stop the rain.
But the bad weather and a delayed start time shortened the band’s performance by about 30 minutes.
Fortune Moleke, of Nigeria, said he attended the festival specifically to see Lagbaja and was disappointed he couldn’t watch the complete performance. And although the band is scheduled to play another show Sunday at 12:15 p.m., he’s unsure if he’ll be able to make it for the second performance.
Back at Scène Chevron Heritage for Unisson’s performance, Couvillion was just happy the festivities could continue.
“We’re so grateful that this music is in this city and to be able to have this in our city, to be able to be part of this international experience is unbelievable. It’s phenomenal,” she said.
The festival will conclude Sunday with bands playing from noon to 6 p.m.