NEW IBERIA — James Lee Burke’s hard-bitten, neo-noir detective Dave Robicheaux may not have redemption, but he has his own festival.
Crime fiction’s notorious New Iberia denizen will be the focus of the Dave Robicheaux’s Hometown Literary Festival, a debut event organized by the Iberia Preservation Alliance and scheduled Friday through Sunday at 320 E. Main St., New Iberia.
The weekend celebration will include free and ticketed events for the scholar and festival junkie alike, from academic sessions to a boucherie.
Though Burke will not be attending the festival, the idea for the event originated with Mike Mayness, a New Iberia resident who had moved away and returned, eager to see the town capitalize on its celebrated citizens.
Robicheaux, whose streetwise New Orleans attitude sometimes causes problems in a small-town sheriff’s department, will be parsed at length during the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s symposium, “Dave Robicheaux and Acadiana,” by keynote speaker and former student of Burke’s, Barbara Bogue from Ball State University. Bogue’s talk will focus on the character and culture.
Shane Barnard, McIlhenny curator and historian, also will speak on local culture and growing up in the area. Kathryn Dubus, a relative of the author, will elaborate on Burke’s family connection to New Iberia.
“The enthusiasm that fans of the character Dave Robicheaux have for the writing of James Lee Burke, the setting of south Louisiana with its mystery, history and romance, is a natural starting point to celebrate all of the literary talent that exists in this area,” said volunteer and retired educator Suzanne Dugas.
Both the roundtable and symposium are free and open to the public. Bus tours have been expanded for the festival. A three-hour, ticketed guided tour begins with breakfast at Victor’s Cafeteria in the morning and lunch for the afternoon tour.
Cathy Indest, a member of the festival’s steering committee, said the festival is another jewel in the parish’s crown.
“We pride ourselves on the fact that there’s not another literary event like this in Acadiana,” Indest said.