Festival Season Is Here
03/10/2015 08:36AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier
Gallery: Spring Festivals [13 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Michelle Matthews Calloway Submitted Photos
Festival season is here! We can finally shed the bulky coats and reach for our flip-flops and shorts, because South Louisiana weather is perfect for enjoying the sights and sounds, and partaking in the food, fun and culture making our area so unique. Festival founders and organizers throughout Acadiana are happy to help us escape the winter doldrums, encouraging us to come to their cities and towns so we can pass a good time.
We asked local organizers to share with us the “can’t miss” and “must do” aspects of their festivals. Here’s their take on how to best enjoy these events.
Every Friday in Spring (except April 3 & 24)
Parc International or Parc Sans Souci
Downtown Lafayette’s Director of Marketing and Events Kate Durio says, “Downtown Alive! is a great time for locals and visitors alike. The one thing I wish everyone knew about DTA! is their role in keeping this tradition alive. If you love DTA! please buy your drinks at DTA!”
Durio says she wishes she could share her message of support with every attendee. “I wish I could tell everyone this,” Durio reiterates. “We love our free concerts and festivals here, but it’s only free if we can sustain them by supporting these great events through our purchases at the event. This model works for DTA! and the other free admission events that we all love. Please support them.
Acadian Memorial Festival and Wooden Boat Congrès
Saturday, March 21
Evangeline Oak Park
121 S. Market Street, St. Martinville
According to City of St. Martinville Director of Tourism Elaine Clément, a “can’t miss” at the Acadian Memorial Festival and Wooden Boat Congrès is the re-enactment of the arrival of the Acadians to the area. “Come take part; it will be especially moving as we celebrate the 250th anniversary of their arrival,” Clément encourages.
Clément says, “Hanging out with folks from all over is always one of my highlights. Hint: hang with the wooden boat owners; you might talk them into giving you a ride. The Attakapas Indian tribes join us and share traditional dances. Music, food, native crafts, children`s activities, theater in French, table française and more. Venez vous joindre à nous!”
Acadiana Dragon Boat Festival
Saturday, March 28
Main Street, New Iberia
“The Dragons are coming: are you ready?” asks Wess Robinson, president of Iberia On Tap, the organization hosting the Acadiana Dragon Boat Festival.
Robinson continues, “The Festival is in its third year and promises to be bigger and better than before! Spectators must see the races, which include 20 paddlers and one drummer. The fun and competition is the heart of this festival.”
When asked about the “must do’s,” Robinson replied, “The must do’s for the festival is grab a flavorful burger from the Burger Cook-Off competition, have fun at kids zone for the kids and stand at the finish line or on the bridge for the best views of the races.”
Laotian New Year Celebration
Friday – Sunday, April 3-5
Wat Thammarattanaram Temple Lanexang Village
7913 Champa Avenue, Broussard
Wat Thammarattanaram Event Coordinator, Fancy Phoumylay, believes few events are lovelier or more exciting than the Lao New Year Festival. “We would like to invite you and your family to come enjoy the 2015 festivities with us,” she says cheerfully.
Events include the Queen’s Pageant and Parade, the annual Lao New Year celebration complete with a fais do do. In addition to enjoying the vendors and the wonderful Laotian dishes, Fancy says “a can’t miss” event is one of the highlights of the celebration, “The Annual Water Festival and Building of the Sand Castle. The Sand Castle ceremony starts at noon – don’t miss it!”
Cajun Hot Sauce Festival
Friday – Sunday, April 10-12
713 Northwest Bypass, New Iberia
You would be hard pressed to find anything hotter than the Cajun Hot Sauce Festival! Acadiana Fairgrounds Director Tim Guidry invites you to a “can’t miss” Hot Sauce Competition, featuring a variety of sauces ranging from classic cayenne, habanero, jalapeño and chipotle to Caribbean style and of course, Louisiana style. Share a smile with the beautiful Hot Sauce Queen and turn up your best two-step in the Dance Competition. And if all that wasn’t enough, a “must do” is to sample some Cajun cuisine in the Rice and Gravy Cook-Off.
Scott Boudin Festival
Friday – Sunday, April 10-12
125 Lions Club Street, Scott
What’s not to love about boudin? The city of Scott comes together in a big way for its wildly popular Boudin Festival. Scott is a community rich in Cajun heritage and the festival celebrates the spirit of that heritage. Boudin is a unique reflection of Cajun culture and for three glorious days, all roads lead to Scott to partake of this wonderful delicacy.
“The number one thing people need to do is probably explore the varieties of different boudin food groups we will be selling,” says festival promoter Glenn Baudoin of JMR Marketing Services. “Since we’ve had the festival there have been a lot of different ways boudin is being prepared – hamburger stuffed with boudin and new ways of preparing boudin balls.”
In addition to enjoying the best in boudin, Baudoin encourages everyone to come out and sample a wide variety of seafood dishes. The food area is contained in one spot. Carnival rides are set up for children in a highly secure, safe environment. “Bands are located in close proximity to the carnival so parents can stand in the middle and enjoy music and keep an eye on their kids,” Baudoin says.
Festival organizers have also joined forces with the Louisiana Artists’ Guild and follow its guidelines for arts and crafts. “They have been a huge support, and we’re happy to have them participating in our festival,” says Baudoin.
The Festival has also experienced explosive growth. It featured 18 booths in its first year, 41 booths in the second and will provide close to 60 booths this year.
Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week (Balfa Week)
Saturday – Thursday, April 11-16
Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park
300 Fisher Road, Lafayette
Louisiana Folk Roots Assistant Director Marsha Engelbrecht is brimming with excitement and anticipation of this year’s Balfa Week observance.
Marsha enthusiastically relays the “must do’s” of the Festival, “Full-time daytime classes, part-time nighttime dances – this truly inspired learning camp and cultural celebration has something for everyone, 16 hours a day. Not to be missed is the stellar line-up of Louisiana artists teaching and performing all week.”
Marsha continues, “Take a vocal class with David Greely or a Creole fiddle workshop with Ed Poullard, catch a featured artist presentation or a local cuisine class, and dance each evening to some of the best bands around, including Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys. Our incomparable artists even lead community jam sessions each evening. The stars shine all week long at Balfa Week!”
Saturday, April 18
Parc International, Lafayette
St. Thomas More Director of Campus Ministry Lance Strother informs us Hopefest is a teen-led festival in downtown Lafayette for all of South Louisiana.
Strother says, “ It’s Perfect for families, children enjoy fun jumps, face painting, kids games and more. With live music covering a variety of genres, the day is filled with dancing, great food, a silent auction and local craft vendors.”
Join us at Parc International April 18th for music, food, 5k, and fun! All proceeds go to the STM’s Options Program and Healing House!
Festival International de Louisiane
Wednesday – Sunday, April 22-26
Festival International is big, big, BIG, and Marketing Director April Courville provides a list of “can’t miss” and “must do” items covering the 5-day event.
“The Courir du Festival 5k is a must do,” she says.
The food features food vendors who are open beyond their normal business hours. It gives people who would otherwise not be able to try a restaurant if they weren’t a vendor.
The shopping features commercial imports and handmade items; it’s like having Etsy right in downtown Lafayette!
The variety of music: You can see almost any genre at any given time.
The Chat Room: An area in which the public can witness in person interviews with the musicians. For fans of a particular band, this is really an experience and not one that is generally taken advantage of.
Scene des Jeunes: A family-oriented area for young children and their parents to participate in activities such as crafts, painting and dance, with a live band!
Street performances: Every year, we feature some sort of performance not listed in the lineup. For 2015, we’ve partnered with Wanderlust Theatre, a street puppet performance group that is sure to be a real treat.