Early indicators suggest Festival Acadiens et Créoles was a financial success, said Barry Ancelet, festival founder, board chairman and director.
“We have raw data, very preliminary indicators,” Ancelet said Monday. But initial deposits, year over year, were up about 9% to 10%.
Ancelet said the admission-free festival opened Friday at the Hilliard University Art Museum with a daylong symposium, which drew large crowds. Events remained packed in and around Lafayette’s Girard Park throughout the weekend.
Beverage ticket sales were up, Ancelet said, and festival pin sales were brisk, although those numbers hadn't been totaled.
Weather, he said, was “ideal,” with no rain and temperatures in the 70s for much of the weekend.
“I don’t use the term bigger and better,” he said, “but it really has been good for several years or so.”
The inaugural festival in 1974 at Blackham Coliseum stood as a tribute to Cajun music and has continued as an annual celebration of Louisiana French culture. Ancelet said around 2007, the festival “hit another gear” and grew.
“The word got out that the look and the organization of the festival improved,” he said. Since then, it has grown.
Ancelet said profits ensure the next year’s festival is on solid footing. Surplus funds are used for scholarships and apprenticeships. Each festival is themed — this year’s theme focused on women in Cajun and Creole music — and Ancelet said he’s already pondering themes for next year.
He said additional stages have been added in recent years, and they, too, drew large crowds over the weekend. They included the Scène Atelier, Salle de Danse and Jam Ça!
Ancelet, professor emeritus at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said over the past three years, the festival has sought additional, younger leadership to ensure the festival’s continuity. He said “young, knowledgeable people” shaped the events lineup this year.
“They have their finger on the pulse, like I used to,” he said.
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