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Allons a Lafayette!

More than 300,000 visitors and some of the world’s most influential musicians from 20 countries are descending on downtown Lafayette during the 31st Festival International de Louisiane April 26-30. New to the festival this year is the ethereal, transcendent fusion music of Indian diva Falu, the high-energy funk rock of Flow Tribe (New Orleans) and the L.A.-based Las Cafeteras (combining son jarocho music with Afro-Caribbean marimbol, zapateado dance and edgy political messages). The festival’s big Sunday night closing act includes Givers with Tom Tom Club, Louisiana jazz saxophonist/artist/photographer/pecan farmer Dickie Landry (who had his first solo painting show last summer in New York at age 77); and Zimbabwe’s Mokoomba performing those infectious, dancehall rhythms that always get people on their feet. The jubilant, young six-piece band made the April 2017 cover of the international music magazine Songline. (festivalinternational.org)


Tablets for Deserving Students

The Academy of Information Technology at Carencro High was recently awarded 114 Samsung Galaxy tablets through a grant from the National Academy Foundation and corporate partner JP Morgan Chase Foundations. National Academy works with deserving communities to transform the high school experience through industry-specific curricula that includes work-based learning experiences and building relationships with local business professionals.


A Better Delta Downs

Boyd Gaming’s much-anticipated $45 million expansion of Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel in Vinton (initiated in 2015) has been completed. The centerpiece of the expansion is an elegantly appointed, all-new 167-room hotel tower accented with abstract art; a new fitness center, plus a new dining concept, Rosewater Grill & Tavern, featuring steaks and seafood and a sweeping view of the racetrack. The original 200-room hotel also underwent a complete redesign and refurbishment. Guests can now relax poolside in well-appointed cabanas or daybeds near an outdoor bar with a state-of-the-art sound system. Delta Downs has a quarter horse race season from April through July; the Calcasieu Parish casino also features soaring interior views, casual dining and the Gator Lounge with free local entertainment (deltadowns.com).


Cultural Immersion on the Bayou

There’s nothing like Vermilionville’s upcoming series of week-long summer camps, On Voyage dans le Temps à Vermilionville. The programs will focus on the Acadian, Creole and Native American cultures on the banks of the bayou in Lafayette. Sessions in English are held June 19-30; sessions in French are held July 10-21 (all French immersion campers must either be fluent in French or must have completed at least one year of French immersion). Registration: vermilionville.org or call Markie Belanger at 337-233-4077. Vermilionville’s action-packed Kids Music Camp June 12-16 features music classes, band labs, singing and dancing, plus performances and a graduation with a camper-parent dance. Open to experienced and novice players ages 8-14; students must bring a guitar, a fiddle or a 10-button diatonic accordion to camp.

Danser, Manger, Répéter

Don’t miss Acadiana’s other top spring festivals, including the 60th anniversary of Lake Charles’ Contraband Days (contrabanddays.com) complete with swarthy pirates, Cajun food and amazing fireworks May 4-14; the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Fest’s toe-tapping zydeco and swamp pop bands (bbcrawfest.com) May 5-7 (check out the Cajun music workshops in the heritage tent and the delicious free samples after the etouffée cook-off); Bastrop native Dylan Scott singing his latest country western hits as the 2017 headliner during Thibodaux’s 133rd annual Fireman’s Fair, May 4-7 (firemensfair.com); and the tantalizing aroma of whole pigs slowly roasting over glowing embers in the tiny town of Mansura during the Cochon de Lait Festival (cochondelaitfestival.com) featuring carnival rides and street dances May 11-14. Don’t miss the greasy pig and ladies’ beer drinking contests, cracklin’ cook-off and unforgettable kids hog-calling competition. The colorful pork-centric festival is sponsored by Marksville’s Paragon Casino and Resort, the family-friendly summer spot where children can experience live alligator shows, a nature trail and the new Kids Cyber Quest while parents enjoy the spa and tropical pool with a swim-up bar, lavish accommodations, dancing and live entertainment (STYX April 29, Aaron Lewis May 13, and Smokey Robinson May 28 via Ticketmaster). Recommended: the succulent bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp appetizer, large fresh lobster tails with drawn butter and the mouth-watering 28-ounce. Tomahawk ribeye (opt for a side of crawfish mac-and-cheese) served at the elegant Legends Steakhouse; also recommended are the smoky grilled oysters and boiled crawfish served in 3-lb. portions on weekends at Big Daddy’s (paragoncasinoresort.com).


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