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 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 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

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

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.