The air was filled with the happy sounds of fiddles and accordions, and there was plenty of two-stepping going on Saturday morning as the 30th annual Festival International de Louisiane kicked off its fourth day.
Revelers from around the world gathered at noon to watch Lafayette’s own Bonsoir, Catin at the Scène Chevron Héritage stage. When the band asked for a show of hands from all the foreign visitors, nearly a quarter of the audience raised their hands and screamed.
The heat didn’t stop anyone from getting his or her jig on. Over the course of the band’s 11/2-hour set, Doug Borel, of Breaux Bridge, switched dancing partners multiple times. He said Cajun dancing is something he loves to do.
He sported an Acadian flag hat and a shirt that read, “Jouer, Danser, Manger, Répéter”: play, dance, eat, repeat.
Borel said his favorite part of Festival International is “meeting a variety of people from all over the world” and giving them a taste of Acadiana’s culture, music, food and dancing.
Over at the LUS La Craft Biergarten, Julie Thibodeaux sat listening to Tipitina’s Interns and recounted her experience as a volunteer for the first Festival International.
She said the festival has grown tremendously. When it began, she said, they had about 400 volunteers and two stages. Now she estimates there to be over a thousand volunteers, with eight stages where performances are held throughout the day.
Thibodeaux said she’s been attending Festival International since it started and volunteers every year she can, including Friday night.
Thibodeaux said she remembers thinking 30 years ago how long a free festival like this would last and is happy to see it still going strong.
“I’m amazed it grew so much,” she said. “It really impacted a lot of people.”
Besides the music, the food is always a big hit at Festival International. The ever-popular crawfish and spinach boat from Bon Creole had a challenger this year for best seafood dish in a bread bowl in the form of Pop’s Poboys crawfish mac bowl.
The mac bowl had a strong debut, with the line for Pop’s going through the restaurant and a steady flow of customers who seemed eager to try Festival’s newest dish.
The 30th annual Festival International de Louisiane brings together musicians and entertainers from 22 countries to perform over five days in downtown Lafayette.
In addition to local and international music, the festival offers visitors an opportunity to experience international culture, art and cuisine offerings. Nearly 2,700 volunteers support the festival with their service each year, while beverage and merchandise sales, as well as business sponsorships, help keep the festival free of admission charge.