As the sun set Sunday evening, so did the festivities for the 30th time in downtown Lafayette for the Festival International de Louisiane, a five-day free music festival held the last week of April every year.
For many, the festival is a family tradition, a tradition that April Courville, marketing director for the event, said she hopes will continue for another 30 years.
“It’s really exciting to see a lot of young people who have been coming to festival for their entire lives,” Courville said. “They don’t know a world without festival.”
Acadiana natives and festival enthusiasts Marcus and Jill Guidry said they’ve raised their children along with the festival.
“My son is 24, and I can remember holding him at one years old,” Marcus Guidry said. “And there were little gypsy dancers off to the side, and he’d turn and look at them and they would all start laughing.”
The Guidry’s said they’ve been to festival nearly every year since it s inception in 1986, and that the size of the festival is what has changed the most.
“We saw crowds Friday night that are typical of Saturday, and then crowds (Saturday) that were even bigger than in the past,” Courville said.
In the beginning, it was an intimate festival with just one stage and small crowds, Jill Guidry said.
“When the bands left, you were sad because you had gotten to know them over the course of the few days,” she said.
The Guidry s agreed having the chance to hear music and meet people from all walks of life, from all around the globe, is their favorite part of festival and is what keeps them returning every year.
Sandra LeBouef, of Youngsville, said her favorite part of the festival is experiencing the different variety of music performed every year. She’s attended Festival International for the past five years with her daughter, Sarah.
“We usually have my son and his wife and children with us,” LeBouef said. “They came last night, and we go to Mass Sunday morning. We love it.”