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Photograph by David Simpson

From Acadie to Acadiana

Activist, poet and singer-songwriter Zachary Richard’s theme song “Toujours Batailleur” was selected as the No. 1 song in Acadie, New Brunswick.
The world premiere of Phil Comeau’s new 60-minute film, “Zachary Richard, Toujours Batailleur” was recently launched during the 30th annual International Film Festival held in bilingual Moncton, in the Canadian Maritimes. Half the film was shot in Louisiana, with a focus on the history of the Acadian people, traced to the three Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island). You can see Richard (who sings his militant song “Réveille” in the new film) performing during the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas Concert Dec.17 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center (1373 S College Rd.; Tickets: (337) 232-4277, acadianasympony.org).


Terrebonne

French Immersion

The United Houma Nation has formally announced plans for the L’Crevisse Cultural and Educational Project, a multi-million dollar nouveaux commanditaires initiative to establish a French immersion school and a cultural center in Terrebonne Parish. Architectural plans by world-renowned French architect Rudy Ricciotti were recently unveiled during a reception hosted by the Consulate General of France, Grégor Trumel.


St. Landry

Healing Hearts

In January, Camp Bon Coeur hosts its annual Retreat Weekend, which includes programs and activities for both children and adults affected by congenital heart defects, at the Lost Bayou Scout Camp in St. Landry. The fun weekend (Jan. 13-14) includes guest speakers and discussions on issues including raising a child with a heart defect and living with a heart defect. Call 337-233-8437 for registration information.


Sunset

Oyster Love

Now that oysters are at their best, take a scenic drive to Sunset to enjoy fresh, salty bivalves at the new U-shaped charbroiled oyster bar that chef-owner Troy Bijeaux and his wife Melissa have installed in Café Josephine (818 Napoleon Ave., 337-662-0008, cafejosephinesunset.com). The former meat market-turned-bistro is situated under the Sunset water tower. Grab one of the 18 seats at the new oyster bar and watch the talkative, affable chef flaming the oysters while you nibble on complimentary tasso-flecked mini biscuits followed by sizzling hot oysters, spicy dark-roux gumbo and an entree such as succulent ribeye topped with buttery lump crabmeat.


Opelousas

Dreams Come True at Cajun Grammys

Though the awards festival was postponed after Acadiana was hit hard during the August flood, the Grammy-style “Le Cajuns” trophies were finally handed out during the 28th annual Cajun Music Awards and Festival in Opelousas. Jr. Hebert and his Maurice Playboys claimed seven of the top eight honors: This included Hebert winning Best Accordionist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Best First CD for “Coursais un Reve” (Chasing a Dream), Best Traditional CD of the Year and Band of the Year.


Lafayette and Houma

Kids Cooking

A new cooking school, Mix It Up Culinary Entertainment, is scheduled to open in late January at 127 Arnould Blvd. in Lafayette. The school was originally launched in Houma by owners Chris and April Sins. Hands-on classes and parties are offered at both locations (mixituphouma.com).


Erath

History Unfolds

In May of 2016, the Acadian Museum in Erath acquired a unique piece of history — a diary and large scrapbook put together by Corrine Broussard during the historic 1930 visit to Grand Pré by Cajuns. Twenty-five “Evangeline Girls” accompanied by nine chaperones and led by Sen. Dudley J. LeBlanc, Sr. embarked on this epic journey to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Acadian Deportation. Broussard, the group’s spokesperson, gave several public addresses in French. It is believed that this was the first group of Cajuns to make the journey back to their ancestral lands in Nova Scotia since the Deportation. Warren and Mary Perrin are editing and annotating the diary and scrapbook in preparation for the creation of an unusual new book projected to be released in the spring of 2017. Having recognized the historic nature of the event, the late Louisiana artist George Rodrigue painted “The Saga of the Acadians,” a series of 15 paintings executed between 1985 and 1989, chronicling the Acadian journey from France to Nova Scotia in the 17th century, from Nova Scotia to Louisiana during the Grand Dérangement of 1755 and finally the first official return visit from Louisiana to Grand Pré in 1930 by the 25 “Evangeline Girls.” The last painting in the series “Return to Acadie,” is shown in the collection.


La Paroisse d’Iberia: Merci au CODOFIL!

New Iberia was recently named the most French Friendly Parish in Louisiana by CODOFIL (the state agency for francophone affairs) and Centre International. French-speaking Convention and Visitors Bureau assistant director of communications, Céline Alis, was credited for her abundant contributions in the bureau’s efforts to promote the Louisiana French brand that attracts many French speaking visitors from around the world.


Stocking Stuffers for the New Year

Food blogger George Graham’s newly published cookbook, “Acadiana Table: Cajun and Creole Home Cooking from the Heart of Louisiana,” is a compilation of the author’s top recipes. The south Louisiana native takes classics and reinterprets them to fashion unique, innovative dishes that are sure to inspire. The hardcover tome with vivid color photographs was released in October.

 


Readers who are fascinated by New Iberia author James Lee Burke’s complex and beloved Cajun character, Detective Dave Robicheaux (the “star” of 19 books of fiction since 1987) will enjoy Patricia Gaitley’s new book, “Robicheaux’s Roots: Culture and Tradition in James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux Novels,” that delves into various aspects of Cajun culture. From his take on food and music to supernatural beliefs, it’s a delicious read for those who are drawn into the world of this colorful Cajun detective who fights his own demons while fighting for justice.


New Iberia native Shane K. Bernard, who resides near Bayou Teche, renders a colorful history of the storied inland waterway in his new book, “Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou,” released in November. He surveys everything from the coming of steam-powered sugar mills and riverboats to epic floods, yellow fever and the miseries of the postbellum era, how the coming of the railroad and highways caused the slow decline of the bayou’s value, followed by the myriad modern efforts in redesigning the Teche. He examines the current efforts at revitalizing the bayou, and describes his own personal journey down the Teche’s 125-mile course, which includes profiling the amiable people who reside along its banks.


Writer, storyteller, singer and professor emeritus of Francophone studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Barry Jean Ancelet teamed up with artist Denise Gallagher for this beautifully illustrated, enchanting new children’s book. Jean-le-Chasseur et ses chiens is an adaptation of a traditional Louisiana French folktale about a boy hunting with his three intuitive, heroic dogs. Written in a style that represents its origin in oral tradition, the 32-page fantasy tale is designed to capture the attention of readers of all ages. Ideal for those who want to give something authentic and memorable as a children’s gift from Acadiana (French with English translation; softcover).  


 

 

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