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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gift the gift of the outdoors this holiday season

Louisiana State Arboretum
     Need something to do with the kids over the holiday vacation, a gift of experience that may last a lifetime? Try getting them outside in the wonderful state parks surrounding Lafayette.
    On Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, Chicot State Park in Ville Platte will offer a Dutch Oven Gathering from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants will join the monthly Dutch oven cooking demonstrations, to view how cooking can be done in the wild. At the nearby Louisiana State Arboretum on Dec. 22 visitors will take a hike — literally — to identify trees during the hardest time of the year, winter, beginning at 2 p.m. For more information on either event, call (888) 677-6100 or (337) 363-6289 locally.
    Also on Saturday, Dec. 22, Lake Fausse Pointe State Park near St. Martinville will offer a Sunset Hike from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to the slough lookout to catch views of deer, owls and other wildlife while the sun sets. There will also be a morning canoe tour from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park where visitors will enjoy the tranquility of calm and quiet waters while learning about the park’s history and flora and fauna along the way. Canoeing experience is recommended and space is limited, so please call for reservations. For more information call (888) 677-7200 or (337) 229-4764 locally.

    For something totally different, visit the Louisiana State Arboretum and learn about Flying Squirrels with the site naturalist from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29. Visitors will enjoy a hike to see the squirrel’s preferred habitat in the old growth forest at the Arboretum.
    For more information about Louisiana State Parks, visit http://www.crt.state.la.us/parks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Year’s Celebrations in Lafayette

Geno Delafose
    In South Louisiana, we know how to party so you can imagine that the New Year is brought in with a bang. Here are a few celebrations occurring this year in Lafayette and the surrounding areas.
    Zydeco extraordinaire Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie tears up the Vermilionville Performance Center on New Year’s Eve (Monday, Dec. 31, 2012) beginning at 9:30 p.m. and continuing to 12:30 a.m. at Vermilionville in Lafayette. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 and available in Vermilionville’s Gift Shop by calling (337) 233-4077.
    Grammy Award winner David Eagan performs for the New Year’s Eve crowd at Charley G’s restaurant, where a set menu and four different rounds of dinner seating will be offered. Booths in the bar are part of the reserved seating but the bar top is available on a first come, first served basis. For more information, visit http://www.charleygs.com.
    The Performing Arts Society of Acadiana (PASA) is hosting a New Year's Eve event from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday, Dec. 31, at 721 E. Kaliste Saloom Road. There will be live music by Krossfyre, food provided by local restaurants, complimentary wine, beer and frozen cosmos and a champagne toast at midnight. Cost is $100 per person. For information, call (337) 237-2787.
    Get your dancing shoes on and head over to McGee’s Landing in Henderson, about 20 minutes outside of Lafayette, for its New Year’s Eve Bash with Cajun music by Ryan Brunet, Christine Balfa and Al Berard. The music — and dancing — starts at 7 p.m. The cover charge is $10 and there will be lots of champagne.
    La Poussiere, a traditional Cajun dancehall in Breaux Bridge, presents its annual New Year's Eve Bash with Jackie Caillier, Ivy Dugas and the Cajun Cousins with special guest musicians. Tickets are $15 in advance (by Saturday, Dec. 29) and will be $20 at the door.
    New Year’s doesn’t have to mean leaving the kids at home. The Children’s Museum of Acadiana offers a New Year’s Noon Countdown & Carnival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 31 at the museum in downtown Lafayette. The cost is $6 per person and includes exhibits, confetti, cannons and prize drops. For more information, call (337) 232-8500 or visit www.cmalaf.org.
David Eagn

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Cajun & Creole Christmas — Holiday Lights

Noel Acadien au Village
    Lafayette and the surrounding cities and countryside is transformed into a winter wonderland during the holiday season with light displays everywhere.
    Here are some spots to visit throughout the entire holiday season, with a few special lighting events thrown in. For a complete list of Cajun and Creole Christmas events, visit LafayetteTravel.com.
     Christmas in Crowley Lights to Music Spectacular will be 5:30 p.m. to midnight Nov. 22-Jan. 3 at City Hall, 425 N. Parkerson in Crowley. Over 50,000 dazzling animated holiday lights are synchronized to music and you can listen to the lights by tuning in on your car radio!
     Safari of Lights is a holiday event with lights, animation and the North Pole Express train at the Zoo of Acadiana, held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 30-Dec. 30 at the Zoo, 5601 U.S. Hwy. 90 East in Broussard. Info: (337) 837-4325.
      Christmas in Vermilion offers a variety of holiday activities Nov. 23-Jan. 1 throughout Vermilion Parish. Admission varies. Info: (337) 898-6600. 
      Take a driving tour along a path filled with elaborate displays of Christmas lights while Christmas music enhances the drive from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 25-Dec. 31 in Kemper Williams Park in Patterson. Cost is $2 per car. Info: (985) 395-2298.
     The historic town of Franklin will offer its Walking Parade & Lamplighter Ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the corner of Jackson and Main streets. Bring flashlights. For those who own golf carts, decorate them and participate in the parade! Info: (337) 828-3631.
     Noel Acadien au Village, a light extravaganza to support the non-profit historic village, is 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly Dec. 1-23 at LARC’s Acadian Village in Lafayette. There will be more than a half million lights, nightly entertainment, local cuisine, photos with Santa, carnival rides and items for sale. Admission is $9 at the gate, $7 in advance, with specials available on the web site. Info: (337) 981-2364.
     The 18th Annual Festival of Light, with shopping, Santa, music, food and real snow, will be 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Oil Center of Lafayette. Info: (337) 232-1267.
    Le Vieux Village’s 11th Annual Christmas Lighting will be from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the historic “village” at 828 E. Landry St. in Opelousas. In addition to the lighting ceremony, there will be Christmas music, carols sung by a choir, refreshments, a horse-drawn buggy ride and Santa. Free. Info: (337) 948-5227.
St. Lucy Festival of Light
     The Delcambre Boat Parade features decorated and lighted boats parading down the Delcambre Canal from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 8 in Delcambre. In addition, there will be gumbo and refreshments for sale. Info: (337) 898-6600.
     St. Lucy Festival of Light will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 9 at St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church in St. Martinville. The free event features food, arts and crafts, musical entertainment, a 2 p.m. Christmas parade and the lighting of the Church Square at 6 p.m.
      This is only a tip of the holiday iceberg. Be sure and check out the full schedule at http://www.lafayettetravel.com/play/festivalsevents/cajun-creole-christmas.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Cajun & Creole Christmas – Parades

     We love a parade in South Louisiana which is why there are numerous parades happening throughout the area during the holidays. The following are Christmas Parades and their starting times:
      The Breaux Bridge Christmas Parade begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, along Main Street in Breaux Bridge. Info: (337) 332-8500.
    The New Iberia Christmas Parade begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, along Main Street in New Iberia. Info: (337) 365-1428.
     The Carencro Lions Children’s Parade begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, as part of the all-day Carencro Country Christmas festivities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Carencro Community Center in Carencro. The 2 p.m. parade is part of the free event which includes family-oriented music, choirs, food and arts and craft booths.   
    The Sonic Christmas Parade is one of the oldest in Acadiana, featuring more than 20 floats, high school marching bands and the official arrival of Santa Claus to Lafayette. The fun happens from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, from downtown to the Oil Center in Lafayette. Free. Info: (337) 988-5301, ext. 232.
      The Lake Arthur Christmas Parade begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Lake Arthur Park. Free. In addition, there will be a gumbo cook-off, lighting of the Christmas tree, Hall of Trees, visit with Santa and fireworks to close the night.
     The Christmas in the Park festivities in downtown Gueydan includes a parade from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Come enjoy this family-style Christmas event with caroling, fun jumps, live nativity, hot chocolate, kids' activities, Santa Workshop with elves, hayride and more!
     The Delcambre Boat Parade features decorated and lighted boats parading down the Delcambre Canal from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 8 in Delcambre. In addition, there will be gumbo and refreshments for sale. Info: (337) 898-6600.
     St. Lucy Festival of Light from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church in St. Martinville includes the KC Christmas Parade at 2 p.m. from St. Martinville High School toward Main Street, ending at Denier. The free event features food, arts and crafts, musical entertainment and the lighting of the Church Square at 6 p.m.
     The Delcambre Christmas on the Bayou Parade begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, along Main Street in Delcambre. The parade begins at the corner of Main Street and S. Pelloat and travels to the Delcambre Shrimp Festival Building.
     The Opelousas Children’s Christmas Parade begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, from St. Landry Catholic Church on Main Street to the Civic Center on Creswell Lane. Info: (337) 948-5227.
    For a complete list of Cajun and Creole Christmas events, visit LafayetteTravel.com.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Cajun and Creole Christmas — Children’s Activities

    We all love the holidays, with the lights, gift-giving and special events abounding. But the holidays also mean there are kids under afoot.
    For the tykes who are out of school and looking for fun activities, there’s endless fun happening throughout Acadiana during the Cajun and Creole Christmas festivities. In addition to those occurring for the holidays, there’s the usual fun-filled children’s events, such as canoeing on Bayou Vermilion, the night hikes at Acadiana Park Nature Trails, the museums of downtown Lafayette and more.
    For a complete list of Cajun and Creole Christmas events, visit LafayetteTravel.com.
    Christmas in Crowley Lights to Music Spectacular will be 5:30 p.m. to midnight Nov. 22-Jan. 3 at City Hall, 425 N. Parkerson in Crowley. More than 50,000 animated holiday lights are synchronized to music and you can listen to the lights by tuning in on your car radio.
    An evening hike through Acadiana Park Nature Trails begins at 7 p.m. Nov. 24. Bring flashlight, long pants, walking shoes and insect repellent. $3 per person and children must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations are required and must be made by 3 p.m. Nov. 24; call (337) 291-8448.
Acadiana Park Nature Station
    Join the Griswolds when Movies in the Parc present “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” at dusk (5:30 p.m.) in Parc International of downtown Lafayette. Cost is $2, free for kids 5 and under. Bring blankets, snacks and more and enjoy a holiday classic. Info: (337) 291-5566.
       The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra performs Christmas songs and classical selections as part of its “Sounds of the Season with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra” at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 25 at St. Peters Catholic Church, 108 E St. Peter St. in New Iberia. Free. Info: (337) 364-1603.
    The Acadiana Center for the Arts presents the award-winning Playing By Air, a fusion of music, juggling and circus in which traditional theatricality meets absurd comedy, at 7 p.m. Nov. 27 & 28.
     Safari of Lights is a holiday event with lights, animation and the North Pole Express train at the Zoo of Acadiana, held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec. 30 at the Zoo, 5601 US Hwy. 90 East in Broussard. Info: (337) 837-4325.
Movies in the Parc
     The Children’s Museum of Acadiana offers its Candy Cane Lane exhibit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1-Feb. 28 at the museum in downtown Lafayette. Visitors will be transported to a place full of holiday cheer and imagination where they can play in Santa’s Workshop, dress up as elves’ and visit a holiday village. Info: (337) 232-8500.
    Noel Acadien au Village, a light extravaganza to support the non-profit historic village, is 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly Dec. 1-23 at LARC’s Acadian Village in Lafayette. There will be more than a half million lights, nightly entertainment, local cuisine, photos with Santa, carnival rides and items for sale. Info: (337) 981-2364.
    The 18th Annual Festival of Light, with shopping, Santa, music, food and real snow, will be 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Oil Center of Lafayette. Info: (337) 232-1267, www.theoilcenter.com
    Le Vieux Village’s 11th Annual Christmas Lighting will be from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the historic “village” at 828 E. Landry St. in Opelousas. In addition to the lighting ceremony, there will be Christmas music, carols sung by a choir, refreshments, a horse-drawn buggy ride and Santa. Free. Info: (337) 948-5227.
    Get outside for a canoe paddle up Bayou Vermilion beginning at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 8. Cost is $5 or bring your own canoe or kayak and paddle for free. RSVP in advance by calling (337) 233-4077, Ext 205.
    Take a hike Dec. 8 at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park and learn about the different plants and animals in the park and how they've been historically utilized by the Chitimacha, Acadians and Creoles for food, shelter and medicine. Info: (888) 677-7200.
    Yuletide on the Bayou, a Gingerbread House competition among Girl Scouts, will be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 8, at Boulingy Plaza, 102 W Main St. in New Iberia. Info: (337) 369-2330.
     Old-Time Christmas at Vermilionville will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 11-20 and include Papa Noël, demonstrations on how to make wax candles, citrus pomanders and soap, a Christmas sing-a-long and a reading of “A Cajun Night before Christmas.”
    Learn about bousillage, a mixture of mud and Spanish moss used in Acadian and Creole home building, at 11 a.m. Dec. 15 at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park. Guests will learn the basics of bousillage and create their own sculptures out of bousillage to take home. Info: (888) 677-7200.
    A Christmas Celebration will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 15 at Vermilionville with a hands-on family cooking class, decorating workshop where kids use natural and traditional items to make decorations, Christmas caroling in the village and a cookie decorating contest.
New Year's Noon Countdown and Carnival
    Christmas parades in Acadiana include the Sonic Christmas Parade through Lafayette from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2; Lake Arthur Christmas Parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 8; Delcambre Boat Parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 8; St. Lucy Festival of Light and KC Christmas Parade from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (parade at 2 p.m.) Dec. 9 in St. Martinville and the Opelousas Children’s Christmas Parade at 6 p.m. Dec. 13.
    For New Year’s, the Children’s Museum of Acadiana offers a New Year’s Noon Countdown & Carnival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 31 at the museum in downtown Lafayette. The cost is $6 per person and includes exhibits, confetti, cannons and prize drops. Info: (337) 232-8500.
    For a complete list of holiday events, visit http://www.lafayettetravel.com/play/festivalsevents/cajun-creole-christmas.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Cajun & Creole Christmas — Performances

There is so much to do this holiday season! Here is a list of special holiday performances held throughout Acadiana, from the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra and Lil’ Band O’ Gold’s Christmas musical specials to the massive choir of Lafayette’s First Baptist Church on a 24-foot Christmas tree. It’s a good idea to call or visit the corresponding web sites to verify times and dates and to learn about admission charges.
     For a complete list of Cajun and Creole Christmas events, visit LafayetteTravel.com.
    Downtown Alive! free music concert series features The Pine Leaf Boys Nov 21 in Parc Sans Souci and includes the Lighting of the Official City Christmas Tree and Toys for Tots Drive. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., music starts at 6 p.m.
Downtown Alive!
    "A Christmas Tuna," a comedy for all ages, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21-24 and 2 p.m. Nov. 25 at Cité des Arts. And yes, that means they are having a show on Thanksgiving evening!
    Join the Griswolds when Movies in the Parc presents “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” at dusk (5:30 p.m.) in Parc International of downtown Lafayette. Cost is $2, free for children 5 and younger. Bring blankets and snacks. Info: (337) 291-5566.
       The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra performs Christmas songs and classical selections as part of the “Sounds of the Season with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra” at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 25 at St. Peters Catholic Church, 108 E St. Peter St. in New Iberia. Free. Info: (337) 364-1603.
    The Acadiana Center for the Arts presents the award-winning Playing By Air, a fusion of music, juggling, and circus in which traditional theatricality meets absurd comedy, at 7 p.m. Nov. 27 & 28. Admission is $10 adults, $7 children.
    The UL-Lafayette School of Music and Performing Arts will present its annual Christmas Concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, in Angelle Auditorium on the UL campus. The performance will feature the combined talent of the UL Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Choir and Percussion Ensemble with each group performing Christmas classics. Info: (337) 482-6224.
    If you missed Lil’ Band O’ Gold’s Christmas special last year – with the golden sounds of some of the most influential musicians coming out of Acadiana – here’s another chance. Lil' Band O' Gold's “The Return of the Annual Swamp Pop Christmas Pageant” will be performed at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 in Lake Charles and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7 at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette. Info: (337) 233-7060.
    Firelight Performing Arts, a Louisiana non-profit theater group, will present “Scrooge, the Musical” on Dec. 6 through 9 at UL-Lafayette’s Burke Hall. Performances are 7 p.m. Dec-6-8 and 2 p.m. Dec 8 and 9. Tickets $15; call (337) 962-0306.
    Iberia Performing Arts League presents Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 7 and 8 and Dec 13, 14, 15 and at 3 p.m. Dec 9 and 16. Tickets $10, available at Delaune’s Pharmacy, Paul’s Flowers and Accentrics on Main Street and by calling (337) 364-6114.
Singing Christmas Tree
    The Singing Christmas Tree is a Broadway-style Christmas show for the entire family with a choir singing from a 24-foot tall Christmas tree with more than 100,000 lights synchronized to music. Performances are 7 p.m. Dec. 7, 8 and 10 and 3 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9 at the First Baptist Church in Lafayette. Info: (337) 593-3757.
     “The Nutcracker” will be performed by Lafayette Ballet Theatre with special guests at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette. The ballet’s annual fundraiser “Land of the Sweets” follows the Sunday matinee (about 4 p.m.) at the Heymann Convention Center (behind the theater). Attendees may enjoy coffee or soft drinks while sampling hors d’oeuvres and sweets from area restaurants and “Nutcracker” stars will be on hand for autographs and photos. Info: (337) 262-0444.
    Chorale Acadienne presents Christmas by Candlelight at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Grand Opera House of the South in Crowley.
    The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra presents “Louisiana Christmas” with special guest artist Sonny Landreth and the ASO children chorus at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette.
"The Nutcracker"
    The Performing Arts Society of Acadiana presents Cirque Chinois, the National Circus of the People’s Republic of China, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center.
    Lessons and Carols, traditional candlelight service of readings and choral music for the Christmas season in the historic St. John Cathedral, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at 914 St. John St. in Lafayette. Free. Info: (337) 232-1322.
    The Acadiana Repertory Theatre present “Carol, A Broken Chain,” a commissioned world premiere adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” featuring carolers and special events in the lobby of the Acadiana Center for the Arts, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20-22.
    Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival will be performed at 4 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Cajundome.
    The Children’s Museum of Acadiana offers a New Year’s Noon Countdown & Carnival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 31 at the museum in downtown Lafayette. The cost is $6 per person and includes exhibits, confetti, cannons and prize drops. Info: (337) 232-8500.
     This is only a tip of the holiday iceberg. Be sure and check out the full schedule at http://www.lafayettetravel.com/play/festivalsevents/cajun-creole-christmas.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Cajun & Creole Christmas – Shopping Opportunities

    There’s so many great opportunities to shop for holidays gifts in Acadiana, from original artwork to unique cultural creations. And you can save on sales tax! The State of Louisiana designated Downtown Lafayette as a Cultural Products District in March 2010 so all state sales tax is exempt from purchased original artwork.
    Be sure and “like” the Facebook page of ShopLafayette, which promotes shopping along with overnight stays at hotels and motels in Lafayette Parish. Once they reach 7,000 fans they will be giving away a World’s Best Chicken Cooker from Bruce Foods!
Second Saturday ArtWalk, Lafayette
    Here is a list of special activities where great shopping can be had during the holiday season.
    C’est Jolie Flowers, Gifts, and Christmas Store, 203 E. Bridge St. in St. Martinville will be selling trees, decorations, wreaths and more from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Dec. 31.
    Lake Arthur Merchant’s Association presents Glitter & Garland, holiday shopping with photos with Mrs. Claus and more from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 16 on Lake Arthur’s Arthur Avenue. Free. (337) 774-5101.

     Holiday Magic among the Jeff Davis Parish retail stores will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 16-17. Free. (337) 824-0933.
      Christmas in Vermilion offers a variety of holiday activities Nov. 23-Jan. 1 throughout Vermilion Parish. (337) 898-6600. 
    Le Grand Noel, with musical performances, demonstrations, holiday refreshments and horse and carriage rides, will be 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 24 throughout the shops of historic Grand Coteau. 337-662-1032.
    Christmas Shoppe, featuring local crafters displaying handcrafted jewelry, beauty products, handmade candles & soap, food products and much more, will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 25 at the Willow Wood Park Recreation Center in New Iberia. (337) 229-1982.
     Christmas at Coteau, featuring vendors and a gourmet luncheon, will be Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, 1821 Academy Road in Grand Coteau. Admission $7. (337) 662-5275
     The 20th Annual Christmas Shopping Extravaganza with 48 booths of crafters from throughout the area, will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 1 at the corner of S. Avenue East and Elm Street in Crowley. Admission $1 per person; 12 years and younger free. (337) 783-9076.
San Souci Gallery
     Carencro Country Christmas, an event that features a parade and music in addition to arts and crafts booths, will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Carencro Community Center in Carencro. Free.
     Noel Acadien au Village is 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly Dec. 1-23 at LARC’s Acadian Village in Lafayette. There will be more than a half million lights, nightly entertainment, local cuisine, photos with Santa, carnival rides and items for sale. (337) 981-2364.
    Christmas in Crowley “A Holiday Affair” will include local merchants as part of its varied holiday event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 5 in historic downtown Crowley. Free.
     Abbeville's 14th Annual Christmas Stroll, where merchants open their businesses for holiday shopping, is 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 6 in downtown Abbeville. (337) 898-6600.
    Kaplan Area Spirit of Christmas, where merchants open their businesses for holiday shopping in addition to other activities, will be Dec. 6-8 in downtown Kaplan. (337) 898-6600.

The 18th Annual Festival of Light, with shopping, Santa, music, food and real snow, will be 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Oil Center of Lafayette. (337) 232-1267.
    A Merry Marketplace, Lafayette's newest Holiday shopping event, will be Dec. 7 at Top Shelf Sports Arena in Youngsville.
    Le Vieux Village’s 11th Annual Christmas Lighting will also feature local merchants, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in Opelousas. In addition there will be Christmas music, carols sung by a choir, refreshments, a horse-drawn buggy ride and Santa. Free. (337) 948-5227.
Lafayette Art Association Gift Shop
     The 2nd Saturday ArtWalk, featuring more than a dozen galleries in downtown Lafayette and artwork in area businesses and restaurants, will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 8. Free. (337) 291-5566.
    The Lafayette Art Association’s Christmas Exhibit begins Dec. 10 with a 6 p.m. opening party at their gallery at 1008 St. Mary St. and the artwork will remain up until Jan. 8, 2013. Be sure and check out the association’s gift shop and the wonderful creations for sale from participating artists.
    This is only a tip of the holiday iceberg. Be sure and check out the full schedule at http://www.lafayettetravel.com/play/festivalsevents/cajun-creole-christmas.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Cajun and Creole Christmas - Ongoing Events

    Lafayette and the surrounding area becomes transformed every year into a sparkling winter wonderland. Events vary, from festivals of light and parades to tours of homes and live performances. Not only is it spectacular, but unique to South Louisiana and our Cajun and Creole culture.
    “A Cajun and Creole Christmas” has been voted a Top 20 December Event by the Southeast Tourism Society and you’ll find out why when you visit. For a complete list of individual events in our area, visit http://www.lafayettetravel.com/play/festivalsevents/cajun-creole-christmas.
    The following are events that are ongoing throughout the holiday season:
     The Hanley-Guéno Neapolitan Presepio Exhibit, showcasing 18th nativity tableau, is available 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Museum in Lafayette. By admission. Info: (337) 232-1322.
     Christmas in Crowley Lights to Music Spectacular will be 5:30 p.m. to midnight Nov. 22-Jan. 3 at City Hall, 425 N. Parkerson in Crowley. Over 50,000 dazzling animated holiday lights are synchronized to music and you can listen to the lights by tuning in on your car radio!
     Safari of Lights is a holiday event with lights, animation and the North Pole Express train at the Zoo of Acadiana, held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 30-Dec. 30 at the Zoo, 5601 US Hwy. 90 East in Broussard. By admission. Info: (337) 837-4325.
     Christmas at the Alexandre Mouton House features holiday decorations at the historic home from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, Nov. 29-Dec. 29, at 1122 Lafayette St. in downtown Lafayette. By admission. Info: (337) 234-2208.
    Noel Acadien au Village (shown) is a holiday extravaganza with thousands of lights, activities and live music from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly, Dec. 1-23, at LARC’s Acadian Village in Lafayette. By admission. Info: (337) 981-2364.
     Victorian Christmas at Grevemberg House will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily Dec. 1-31 at 407 Sterling Road in historic Franklin. By admission. Info: (337) 828-2092. Also in Franklin is Oaklawn Manor, home to former Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster, and the home will be adorned for the holidays and open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, Dec. 1-Jan. 6, at 3296 Oaklawn Drive, off Irish Bend Road in Franklin. By admission. Info: (337) 828-0434.
     Victorian Christmas at the Joseph Jefferson Home & Rip Van Winkle Gardens is offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 1-Jan. 8 at the historic home, gardens and café at 5505 Rip Van Winkle Road in New Iberia. By admission. Info: (337) 359-8525.
    Shadows Merry Making Season in the Shadows-on-the-Teche Plantation Home & Gardens decorated for the holidays will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 3-31 at the historic home at 317 E. Main Street in New Iberia. By admission. Info: (337) 369-6446.
    Old-Time Christmas at Vermilionville will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 11-20 and include Papa Noël, demonstrations on how to make wax candles, citrus pomanders and soap, Christmas singalong and a reading of “A Cajun Night before Christmas.”
    This is only a tip of the holiday iceberg. Be sure and check out the full schedule at http://www.lafayettetravel.com/play/festivalsevents/cajun-creole-christmas.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

All Saints Day is 'La Toussaint' in Lafayette

    Ancient people believed the threshold between the dead and the living grew thin around All Hallow’s Eve, of Halloween, and tried to appease the spirits with treats. Christians later designated Nov. 1 as All Saints Day to honor the departed Saints of the Catholic Church. Today, residents of South Louisiana honor their loved ones who have passed on All Saints Day or La Toussaint by placing wax, silk or fresh flowers on grave sites.
     Because much of South Louisiana has a high water table, the dead are buried in above ground tombs, from the simple to the extreme, accented by statues, cast iron detail and wrought iron gates. Every fall residents clean up these tombs, sometimes whitewashing the exteriors and making sure the cemetery is spruced up and weed-free for its Nov. 1 visitors.
    In Acadiana, La Toussaint is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation.
    “The day after Halloween, All Saints Day (La Toussaint), is more important in south Louisiana than in any other area of the country both as a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation and as a day of family unity,” writes Jane Vidrine in Louisiana’s Living Traditions.
    Some florists sell a specific fake flower arrangement just for the occasion— sometimes called a coronne de toussaints, a wreath — since All Saints flowers should last throughout the year. 
    In many communities a Mass is held, then a candlelight walk to the cemetery.
    The Cathedral of St. John, the oldest church in Lafayette, will be offering silk flower arrangements for both All Saints Day and All Souls Day, which follows on Nov. 2. Vermilionville Living History Museum & Folklife Park in Lafayette offers wax flower demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 10, 17, 24, and 31, 2013, culminating with a reenactment of La Toussaint with Vermilionville artisans on Nov. 1, 2013.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Festivals Acadiens et Créoles 2012 bigger than ever

    Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, which pays tribute to Acadiana’s Cajun and zydeco music, grows every year, with new events both at the festival site and throughout Lafayette.
     This year’s fete honors Louisiana’s bicentennial celebration of its statehood, one of the 200th anniversary’s kick-off events statewide. Among the many stages of live music at Festivals Acadiens et Créoles will be the Louisiana Bicentennial Stage, hosting a wide variety of talent.
    The festival takes place Oct. 12-14, 2012, at Lafayette’s Girard Park and is actually a collection of festivals. The three days of fun includes the Festival de Musique/Music Festival, the Bayou Food Festival, the Louisiana Craft Fair, La Place des Petits for the kids, Culture Sur La Table/Culture on the Table workshops on Cajun and Creole cooking and Louisiana Folk Roots, which features jam sessions and interviews with Cajun and zydeco legends.
    This year’s poster by artist Megan Barra is a good example of the interconnectivity of Acadiana’s culture, a fabric tree with intersecting threads showcasing the influences of many individuals on Cajun and Creole-zydeco music. The trunk of the tree represents the collective festivals with James Domingue, organizer of the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, watering its growth. Domingue is this year’s honoree for his work keeping French alive in South Louisiana.
    “It’s been referred to as our family tree,” Organizer Patrick Mould explained of the poster.
    Bands appearing include Balfa Toujours, Jo-El Sonier, Feufollet, the Savoy Family Band, Lil’ Band o’ Gold, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie, Wayne Toups, Cedric Watson, Soul Express Brass Band, Pine Leaf Boys and Michael Doucet with Mitch Reed, among many more. In addition there will be jam sessions led by accomplished musicians.
    To view a full schedule of bands, food and craft vendors and more, plus activities happening in town outside the festival grounds, visit http://festivalsacadiensetcreoles.com.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Scary happenings coming to Lafayette!

    It’s that time of year, when spooks walk the earth and we love to be scared. And the Lafayette Science Museum is happy to oblige.
    The annual Museum of Fear returns to downtown Lafayette from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in October, held on the spooky third floor of the Lafayette Science Museum at the corner of Congress and Jefferson streets.
    Admission is $8 at the door, where you leave all rational thought behind.
The fun concludes with the inaugural ZombieWalk beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, at corner of Lee and Jefferson streets on the lawn of the old City Hall, next to the statue of Gen. Mouton (who may participate).
   The zombie parade will march down Jefferson Street in downtown Lafayette, ending at Parc Sans Souci for an after-party and costume contest. The lucky winners of the costume contest earn the right to haunt visitors from within the Museum of Fear’s cemetery.     Participation in ZombieWalk and walking among the living dead is free.
    Both events are geared for the whole family. As organizers put it, “A family that scares together shares together!”
    For more information, call (337) 291-5544 or visit lafayettesciencemuseum.org.
    Both events are fundraisers for the downtown museum.
    Other horrific October events in Acadiana include:
    The St. Landry Catholic Church is located next to its historic and impressive cemetery in Opelousas. Annual cemetery tours are offered in October and this year’s tour examines "Louisiana 200 Years." Tours will be offered at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 13-14 and 20-21, 2012, at the St. Landry Catholic Church, 1020 N. Main St. in Opelousas. Tickets are $10. For information, call (337) 942-8318.
    Downtown Lafayette’s Movies in the Parc presents the family favorite “Ghostbusters” Saturday, Oct. 20, at Parc International. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $2, free for children ages 5 and under. Parking is available at Parc-Auto du Centreville at Polk and Vermilion streets. Concessions are available on site.
    Lafayette's inaugural Zombie Ride bike ride will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, in downtown Lafayette, with stops at downtown watering holes. Some downtown sponsors will be offering drinks to those "dressed to kill."
    The Lakeview Park and Beach in Eunice presents its third annual "Hwy 13 Haunted House" at 7:30 p.m.-until every Saturday in October plus Oct. 26 and 31. Every house has been revamped and there will be a zombie apocalypse. Tickets are $7.
    Vermilionville Living History Museum & Folklife Park will offer a Halloween celebration at the village with Boo Bayou, a fall carnival, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. Activities include games, costume contest, trick-or-treating throughout the village and entertainment by Louisiana Performance Center and Renaissance Cadienne.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fall means endless fun at food festivals!

    When fall arrives in South Louisiana, it has the same effect as spring in most parts of the country. Suddenly, everyone appears to be in love, residents flock to fall festivals and thoughts turn — naturally — to the prospects of good eating.
    Louisiana hosts more than 100 festivals a year, many of them revolving around food. Couple that with the harvests of many crops and you have outstanding fall festivals!
    Here’s a taste — pun intended — of some fall festivals featuring food in Acadiana:
    The St. Martinville Kiwanis Club Annual Pepper Festival has expanded to two days and will offer live bands, a pepper eating contest, a street fair, arts and crafts and food vendors Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14-15, 2012, at the St. Martinville City Fairgrounds. 
  Festival del Taco will be Saturday, Sept 15, 2012, at the Farmer's Market Pavilion in Le Vieux Village of Opelousas, just a short drive from Lafayette.
    Come explore the sweet side of our state at the annual Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival which celebrates one of Louisiana's largest crops. The fun will be Sept. 26-30, 2012, in New Iberia. 
    Latin Music Festival will include food and activities in its musical lineup from noon to midnight Saturday, Oct 6, 2012, in downtown Lafayette.
    Festivals Acadiens et Creole combines music, food and culture in Girard Park of Lafayette Friday through Sunday, Oct. 12-14, 2012.
    The International Rice Festival celebrates one of South Louisiana’s major crops Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 18-21, 2012, in nearby Crowley.
     The Boudin Cookoff celebrates one of Lafayette’s traditional foods on Saturday, Oct. 20, in Parc San Souci of downtown Lafayette. Come help pick the best boudin!
     Folks come from all over the country to attend the South Louisiana Black Pot Festival and Cookoff, to be held Oct. 26 and 27 in Acadian Village. Camp out, join in the cooking and jam sessions or just visit for the food, fun and dancing. 
    The Acadiana Wine and Food Festival, a fundraiser for the Paul & Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum of Lafayette, will take place from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, on the grounds of the museum.
    Food Day Acadiana 2012, honoring local farmers, artisans and restaurants, will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, at the Heymann Memorial Park off South College Road in Lafayette. 
    Nearby Rayne is known as the Frog Capital of the World for its shipping of native bullfrogs to the nation’s finest French restaurants. The Rayne Frog Festival honors this history Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 7-11, 2012. 
    For a complete list of Louisiana festivals, visit Louisiana Travel. For a list of Lafayette-area events, visit Lafayette Convention and Visitor’s Commission.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day Weekend abounds with South Louisiana fun

    The storms have passed and the sun is shining. We’re gearing up for football, music and fun this Labor Day Weekend, from family carnivals and zydeco festivals to the opening game of University of Louisiana-Lafayette football.
    The Acadian Village, a collection of historic buildings that form a replica of Cajun and Creole life, will host the Last Days of Summer Carnival fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. The event includes carnival rides, games, magic shows, pony rides, face painting, food, live entertainment and more. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, and children 4 and under admitted free. For more information, call (337) 981-2364 or visit www.acadianvillage.org.
    This year is the 30th anniversary for the Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival in Plaissance. Featured artists include Lawrence Ardoin and Traditional Creole, Corey Ledet, Dog Hill Stompers, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, Step Rideau, Lil Nate, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr., J. Paul Jr. and Leon Chavis. Also performing are Grammy winner Chubby

Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band and country performers Chris Himel, Dustin Sonnier, Jaryd Lane and Charley Rivers. All the fun takes places Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 1-2, 2012, at Zydeco Park on Highway 167 in Plaisance, north of Opelousas and Lafayette. Tickets for the Sept. 1 show are $15, $12 in advance and $5 for children 12 and younger. Tickets are $25 for Sept. 2, $20 in advance and $5 for children 12 and younger. For more festival information, call (337) 942-2392 or visit www.zydeco.org.
    Wear your red proudly Saturday as the UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns football team takes on Lamar at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at Cajun Field in Lafayette. For information, visit http://www.ragincajuns.com.
    On Sunday, trek over to St Martinville for the Creole Zydeco Festival at Adam Carlson Memorial Park. There will be Creole food, petting zoo, space jump and music by Zydeco Ray & The Creole Knight Riders, Same Ole' Step & Lil Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers. Tickets are $10 adults, children $3 at the door.
    For more information, visit the Lafayette Convention and Visitor’s Commission Web site.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cajun Jaming in Lafayette


    If you’re a musician, don’t be shy when visiting Lafayette and for goodness sakes bring your instrument. There are numerous jam sessions held every week throughout the town and visitors are always welcome to join in. And because Lafayette is the hub city for great Cajun and zydeco music, you’ll never know who might show up!
    Here is a weekly roundup of a few Jam Sessions in Lafayette and environs:
    Wednesdays — The Blue Moon Saloon & Guesthouse offers a Cajun jam session at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on the guesthouse’s back porch. The jam is open to all skill levels, entry is free and onlookers are welcomed.
    Fridays — the Begnaud House Welcome Center at 110 Benoit Patin Road in nearby Scott (right off Interstate 10) offers jam sessions starting at 6 p.m. Fridays and the place fills up with locals and visitors alike enjoying traditional Cajun music.
    Saturdays — Vermilionville offers a weekly Cajun Jam from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays in the historic attraction’s performance center. Special guest hosts are scheduled to lead the event; check their web site for the schedule.
    Louisiana Folk Roots offers a Jam des Amis (shown above) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. the second Saturday of the month at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in downtown Lafayette. The jam coincides with the monthly ArtWalk celebration and features hosts, such as Jimmy Breaux of BeauSoleil fame or David Greely, formerly with Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lafayette’s Farm-to-Table Restaurants

    It’s easy to offer farm-to-table cuisine in Lafayette, for the region is ripe with farms, bakeries and butcher shops and a long tradition of living off the land and environment.
    Not to mention Lafayette is home to some of the country’s finest chefs.
    The kitchen of Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro is helmed by Chef Manny Augello, a leader in the local farm-to-table movement and a board member of the Acadiana Food Circle. Augello recently served up a “Louisiana Summer” menu at the esteemed James Beard House in New York City that consisted of smoked boudin with pork cracklings and summer tomato–white bean cassoulet and crispy quail with roasted figs, balsamic–cane syrup vinaigrette, sugar-and-spice pecans and fried chèvre, among other delectable delights.
    Jolie’s menu features seasonal, local produce and meats that changes constantly. One visit to their web site and you’ll see the specials for the week, including a house-made charcuterie plate.
    Jolie’s is located at 507 W. Pinhook Road in Lafayette and open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday with brunch on Sunday.
    The Saint Street Inn at 407 Brook Ave. near the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus was founded with farm-to-table in mind. Owners Mary Tutwiler and Nathan Stubbs frequent the city’s farmer’s markets to take advantage of fresh produce and organic products and their beef and smoked sausage comes from a Eunice slaughterhouse near Lafayette. Specialty meats such as andouille may be purchased from Johnson’s Boucanière in Lafayette and tasso from Best Stop in Scott.
    The Saint Street Inn also changes its menu to accommodate what’s available seasonally, serving up sandwiches, salads, pizza, burgers and entrées. Diners will also find that week’s menu offerings on the restaurant’s web site.
     The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday and for dinner Thursday through Saturday evenings. They occasionally offer special events on the front porch or side patio, the latter of which also contains a small stage for live music, next to the herb garden. 
    For more information, visit www.jolieslouisianabistro.com and http://saintstreetinn.com.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Celebrating Acadian Culture


            A group of French citizens traveled from France to the New World about 400 years ago, landing in what is now northern New England and the Maritimes of Canada. These French pioneers called their new home Acadia or Acadie.
            They built dykes to hold back the massive tides from the Bay of Fundy, and they constructed forts, homes and churches. Because they were isolated in the wilderness, they became good friends with the Micmac Native Americans and developed a distinct identity. They became known as “Acadians.”
            There were constant wars between France and England in the New World, and the rich land that the Acadians farmed passed back and forth between England and France. In 1755, the English seized the farms of the peaceful Acadians, burned their villages, put them on ships and sent them all over the world. This “Grand Dérangement” lasted many years. When word that the Louisiana colony welcomed the exiles, hundreds of Acadians came to Louisiana and started life anew.
            We celebrate Acadian — or Cajun — culture all year round in Lafayette and surrounding areas but particularly during this time of year. Aug. 15 is the National Day of the Acadians, corresponding with the Catholic feast of the Assumption.
             Vermilionville of Lafayette celebrates Acadian Culture Day, a free event of music, food and fun from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012, at the historic village. This year’s event focuses on living cultures and activities planned include:
            Cooking demonstrations;
            Boat tours and canoeing;
            Artist demonstrations such as net making, bamboo fishing poles, bousillage bowls, canning, quilting and old-time washing and clothesline hanging;
            Games and crafts for children including tintamarre noise makers, kites and Acadiana flag making;
            A genealogy station by Acadian Memorial;
            Dance lessons with Cal and Lou Courville;
            Sharing circles on Cajun Women Across the Generations and Les Traiteurs;
            Film screenings of “Pie Day” by Drew Landry and “I Always Do My Collars First” by Connie Castille; and
            Music in the Performance Center by The Huval-Fuselier Cajun Band followed by Feufollet.
            For a complete list of activities, visit the calendar of events at vermilionville.org or call (337) 233-4077 for more information.
            The Acadian Memorial in St. Martinville will host a special program from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. Special events include:
            Table Francais for French speakers from 10 a.m. to noon;
            “From Commission to Completion: Celebrating 20 years of the Mural” with muralist Robert Dafford at 12:30 p.m. followed by Theatre Acadien reenactment performances that bring the mural characters to life;
             Film presentation and booksigning by Ron Thibodeaux, author of “Hell or High Water: How Cajun Fortitude Withstood Hurricanes Rita and Ike”;
            Genealogy workshops;
            Children’s scavenger hunt;
            Family Banner Procession; and
            Feast of the Assumption and French Mass at St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church.
            For more information, contact info@acadianmemorial.org or call (337) 394-2258.
            Also on the National Day of the Acadians — Aug. 15 — the Begnaud House in Scott will be offering a ceremony honoring Acadian ancestors beginning at 6 p.m.
            To learn more about what is Acadian and Cajun, why we have our own flag and more, visit http://www.lafayettetravel.com/essentials/culture/what-cajun.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cool off at Gulf Brew!

     The Acadiana Center for the Arts offers up a cool event every summer as its  primary fundraiser.
    Gulf Brew 2012 is an annual tribute to beer that includes dozens of brewmasters, food and ongoing entertainment from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at downtown Lafayette’s Parc International. The fun happens in a large air-conditioned tent so it doesn’t get much cooler than this.
    “It’s a little like Christmas in July,” said ACA Director Gerd Wuestemann. “Cool beers in a cool atmosphere and that’s pretty impressive for Louisiana.”
    Brewmasters hail from around the Southwest region and beyond, offering more than 150 fine craft and specialty brews. There will also be on-site brewing demonstrations, a gaming area, educational brewers tent and more.
    Tickets are $25 for general admission and VIP tickets are $75 and include early admission and access to the VIP tent with special beer selections, food and VIP restrooms. A designated driver (non-taster) ticket is available for $15. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
    For more information, or a list of participating breweries, visit AcadianaCenterfortheArts.org.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cool things to do in Lafayette

    Summertime and it’s rather warm here in South Louisiana. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to visit. Here are some cool reasons to visit Lafayette in summer:
    The EatLafayette campaign is ongoing through Aug. 15, with 61 participating restaurants offering summer specials. In addition, there will be a chance to win a four-day Caribbean cruise by entering at participating restaurants.
    The Lafayette Absolut Best Martini Contest runs every Tuesday for eight weeks until Aug. 21. Every Tuesday a different restaurant in town will be serving up signature martinis, giving visitors a chance to sample their creative mixtures and vote for their favorites Aug. 25 at the Hilton Lafayette during the Martinis 2012 Gala.
    Once again, the Acadiana Center for the Arts offers Gulf Brew, a celebration of Gulf South breweries, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 21. There will be sample beers, food and live music in Parc International in the heart of downtown Lafayette. Tickets are $25 for general admission and VIP tickets are $75 and include early admission and access to the VIP tent with special beer selections, food and VIP restrooms. A designated driver (non-taster) ticket is available for $15.
    Kart Ranch family entertainment center offers water blasting bumper boats with water targeting devises everywhere! No one will escape dry at this fun park.
    The Parc San Souci fountain at 201 E. Vermilion St. in downtown Lafayette offers a syncopated rise and fall of bursts of water, a favorite among kids and adults alike. Best of all, it's free!
    And for some instant cool gratification, snowball stands — or shall we say sneauxballs — are located all over Lafayette and surrounding areas. To name a few:
    Snowcones at the Hot Pot, 705 Robley Drive;
    Cajun Sno on Rena Drive;
    Crawfish Express, 106 Roselawn Blvd.;
    Murph’s Old Tyme Snowball, behind Old Tyme Grocery, 218 W. St. Mary.
    There’s also several ice cream shops in town. The newly renovated Borden's, where Jefferson Street meets Johnston, is the last Borden's ice cream parlor in existence. The newest addition to the cool scene is Carpe Diem Gelato and Espresso Bar downtown. Everything is made fresh here with summer produce.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Get ready for ‘Red, White and BOOM!’

    Downtown Lafayette celebrates the nation’s independence in a big way this July 4th with an annual concert by the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, a KidZone and live music by local bands. It’s all part of “Red, White and BOOM!”
    Grammy nominee Marcia Ball, hailed as the “bayou queen of the piano,” joins the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra in the patriotic concert in Parc International. The concert will also feature the ASO’s Second Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest and a 2012 red Mercedes car raffle, concluding with the Grand Finale Fireworks show at approximately 9:30 p.m.
    Over in nearby Parc Sans Souci the Conservatory of Music KidZone will offer water slides, face painting, arts and crafts, balloon animals, costume contests and much more. And parents can enjoy a broadcast of Marcia Ball and the ASO performance while their children play and keep cool in the KidZone!
    At Parc Putnam’s “Freedom Fest!” there will be several bands performing — The Rockin’ Rotarians at 4 p.m., Lafayette’s Bayou Boys at 5 p.m., Nik L Beer at 6:15 p.m. and Grammy Award winner Chubby Carrier at 8:30 p.m.
    Gates open for all events at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 4, 2012.
    A $5 admission fee to Red, White and BOOM! grants patrons access to all three parcs (that’s parks for those of you who don't speak Cajun). In collaboration with Food Net of Lafayette, ASO is offering free concession tickets for canned food donations brought to the celebration. Parc Passes will be available at the gate or may be purchased in advance at the ASO Box office located at 412 Travis Street in Lafayette.
    All proceeds from the event help support the ASO’s children’s education programs.
    Visit the Symphony web site or its Facebook page for a more detailed schedule.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Acadiana Farmers' Markets offer something for everyone


    Lafayette and surrounding areas are home to numerous farms, home bakers and fishermen. On almost every day of the week you can find fresh produce, baked goods, meats and seafood at a number of farmers markets.
    Many of them also sell flowers, plants, crafts, artwork and music. The Hub City Farmers Market, for instance, which sets up shop every Saturday in the Oil Center of Lafayette, hosts area artists on the third Saturday of every month. The Freetown Farmers’ Market sells a variety of items, from fresh vegetables, dairy products and meats to crocheted hats, fresh flowers and CDs of local musicians, all out front of the Freetown Studios where numerous local artists work. We were even serenaded!
    The following are farmers’ markets in Lafayette and surrounding region. Since times and dates may change with the seasons, please call ahead.


Tuesdays 
Acadiana Farmer’s Market, 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., 801 Foreman Drive in Lafayette. (337) 948-8812.
Teche Area Farmer’s Market, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Bouligny Plaza on Main Street in downtown New Iberia. (337) 942-3742.

Wednesdays
Eunice Farmers’ Market & Market Days, 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the 100 block of South Second Street in downtown Eunice. (337) 457-6502.
Freetown Mid-Week Farmers’ Market, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., The Freetown Studios, 421 Convent St. in Lafayette. (225) 324-6267.

Thursdays
Acadiana Farmer’s Market, 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., 801 Foreman Drive in Lafayette. (337) 948-8812.


Saturdays
Hub City Farmers’ Market in Lafayette, 8 a.m. to noon, 427 Heymann Blvd. in the Oil Center of Lafayette. (337) 873-0383.

Lafayette Farmers' and Artisans Market at the Horse Farm, 8 a.m. to noon., Lafayette.
Acadiana Farmers’ Market, 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., 801 Foreman Drive in Lafayette. (337) 948-8812.
Freetown Mid-Week Farmers’ Market, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Freetown Studios in Lafayette. 421 Convent St. (225) 324-6267.
The Cottage Shoppe’s Farmers’ Market, 8 a.m. to noon, 800 E. Broussard Road in Lafayette. (337) 984-5276.
Eunice Farmers’ Market & Market Days, 10 a.m. to 2p.m. in the 100 block of South Second Street in downtown Eunice. (337) 457-6502.
Teche Area Farmers’ Market, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., Bouligny Plaza on Main Street in downtown New Iberia. (337) 380-0672 and (337) 369-2330
.

Bayou Teche Farmers' Market, 8 a.m. to noon. the last Saturday of the month, St. Martinville.
The Washington Community Farmers' Market, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Pavilion across from Town Hall in Washington.  
Kaplan Farmers' Market, 8 a.m. to noon the second Saturday of the month. 

For more information on local foods, contact the Acadiana Food Circle.