ARNAUDVILLE — Acadiana residents celebrated rural arts and culture with local artists at a festival Saturday, with the sprawling NUNU Arts and Culture Collective Warehouse serving as the heart of the festival.
With a constant stream of live acoustic music and the fresh air blowing in from the field next to the warehouse, festivalgoers wandered between artistic demonstrations such as vintage photography, ceramics, glassblowing and blacksmithing. Inside the warehouse, there was also gourd crafts and quilting.
“I really love the idea that they come out here and do pottery demonstrations and different things,” said Jacqueline Cochran, NUNU’s director of marketing and communications. “So you have all this great, original art. Buy original, support your local artists, you know? Not China.”
The 11th annual festival, officially known as Le Feu et L’Eau Rural Arts Celebration, had a little something for everyone.
Gumbo from “Ms. Rita’s” was available in the warehouse for those who were hungry, along with handmade soaps and jewelry. Artwork that was available and on display including carved and painted gourds, oyster shell art and traditional oil paintings. There was also a display of literature written by local authors.
“This is actually my favorite event to go to because of all the collaborations of artists involved over here — not crafts, artists,” said Richard Delahoussaye, a blacksmith from Carencro. “That’s what makes the big difference for this show.”
More crafts were for sale outside the warehouse.
One woman sold nutria fur-trimmed black Christmas stockings that had images of alligators sewn on them.
Regardless of the specialty goods for sale, many people, including Ashley Degeyter, said that their favorite part of the celebration was the community coming together.
“My friends are here,” Degeyter said. “The whole community is here. I literally drove in today (from New Orleans) to come hang out with my friends, and you get to see some sun and some art.”
Multimedia artist Kathleen Whitehurst, who has worked with NUNU for the past couple years, said the festival is a celebration of the community — arts, music and food.
The celebration began in 2005 as a way to help support artists in the area displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, although many of the original artists still live in Acadiana and continue to display their artwork in the gallery on NUNU’s grounds.
The celebration was set to climax at sunset with the lighting of two bonfires “as an offering to the universe for growth, prosperity and community” for the upcoming year, according to Whitehurst.
“We’re going to have shaman and spiritual leaders come in, and we’re going to offer the fire as to the universe so the new generation can bring in new growth and new people,” she said.
For those who missed the celebration this year, the festival is being moved to April beginning in 2016, to act as a grand finale to the Semaine Française d’Arnaudville, which will be held April 11-17. Also, many of the artists can be found in NUNU every Thursday through Sunday.