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:
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”;
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.