Vermilionville, the living history museum and folklife park for Acadian culture, is hosting their annual Acadian Culture Day this Sunday.
The event will feature demonstrations about the lives of the early Cajuns, guided boat tours, Cajun dance workshops and community jams with local artists.
“Acadian Culture Day is our biggest event of the year, and one of three culture days held each year,” said Brady McKellar, director of museum operations. “The purpose of this event is to demonstrate, educate and celebrate the Acadian culture and its origins.”
This year’s celebration will honor late Vermilionville employee Merlin Fontenot, who at 93-years old was the oldest employee at Vermilionville.
Before passing away, Fontenot had worked at Vermilionville for over 20 years and was known as “The Mayor of Vermilionville.”
Fontenot taught himself the Cajun fiddle when he was 7-years-old and by the time he was 15, he was well-known around the dance halls in Eunice, Louisiana.
His memory will be honored with a lifetime achievement award in Cajun culture preservation that will be bestowed to his family at the event, and afterwards, Terry Huval and Jambalaya, the band Fontenot played with for many years, will take the stage for to honor his memory with a Memorial Cajun Jam.
Anyone that wants to play along to celebrate his life is welcome to jump in.
The theme of this year’s event is “Where We Come From,” with events focusing on the origins of Acadian culture, including the traditions brought by the Cajuns, from the foods they ate, to the crafts they used, and how they blended those elements of their culture into the new world.
Activities will include games from the 1700’s, discussions about how the early Acadians hunted and survived in the area and a cooking demonstration on ‘Rappie Pie,’ one of the oldest, and most well-known Acadian recipes.
There will also be basketry, sewing, fiddle-making, woodcarving and cooking over an open hearth demonstrations, along with a discussion about Traiteurs or the traditions of traditional healing which often uses plants.
Lafayette Master Gardeners will also be onsite to give tours of the healing garden.
Demonstrations will tie in with the theme of “Where We Come From” by focusing on practices of the early Cajuns.
There will be a trapping demonstration with a handful of traps, furs and pelts representative of the period, and a demonstration on the Coureurs des Bios, or woodsrunners, will highlight the lives of the first woodsmen in the area.
“They were similar to American longhunters,” said McKellar. “These men would have been some of the earlies European people to come to the area, making their living travelling the land and swamps to gather furs, to be traded or sold. They often acted as explorers and scouts, and many became the first French or Acadians to interact with the Native American tribes from this area.”
Boat tours will be available for participants to ride along the Bayou Vermilion, up to Bayou Tortue and back while learning about the history and use of the waterway, as well as the plants and animals that live and grow along it.
“It’s a great way to see some of the wonder of the Bayou, and the guide covers a lot of information on how the bayou was used," said McKellar. “Back in our time, the bayou was the closest thing they would have had to a highway, a great resource for travel, trade and transportation.”
Free canoeing will take place along the Petite Bayou from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the day will end with a presentation on “The Birth of Cajun Culture" by Warren Perrin.
The presentation will focus on the Grand Derangement, or expulsion of the Acadians out of Nova Scotia, and how they landed in Lafayette and developed their unique culture.
Those looking to get a taste of Acadiana culture need look no further than this day long event featuring workshops and demonstrations on how the early Acadians lived when they came to the area.
The schedule of events is listed below, and for more information visit vermilionville.org or call 337-233-4077.
10:00 a.m. – Opening and all demonstrations begin and French table
10:30 a.m. – Tintamarre Parade through the village
11:00 a.m. – Huval, Dupuy, Fusilier Band in the PC
11:00 a.m. – Crafts and Canoeing begins.
12:30 p.m. – Rappie Pie demonstration in the Cooking School
1:00 p.m. – Richard Guidry Fondation video in the PC
1:00 p.m. – Open Cajun Jam with Forrest Huval at the Forge
1:20 p.m. – Award Presentation for Mr. Merlin
1:40 p.m. – Merlin Fontenot Memorial Jam with Terry Huval and Jambalaya
2:00 p.m. – Fresh Fruit Tarts demonstration in the cooking school.
3:00 p.m. – Paul Daigle and the Cajun Gold in the PC
3:00 p.m. – The Birth of Cajun Culture
Boat Tours at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
- Sunset JAM: A Jambalaya of Art & Music, Sat., Aug. 12, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunset
Sunset JAM is a free, family-friendly cultural event. All are invited to come out, enjoy the sights, sounds and support local artists, musicians and small businesses.
The outdoor artisan area will be located on Sibille Street just off Napoleon Avenue and area shops and galleries will be showcasing local art.
While in town, also visit several antique markets, have lunch at amazing restaurants and check out the Farmer's Market. Come spend a Saturday in Sunset.
- Lost Bayou Ramblers CD Release Party + Julie Odell, Sat., Aug. 12, 9 p.m. – 11 p.m., Lafayette
Come out to the Blue Moon Saloon for the release of the Lost Bayou Ramblers new CD.
The band will be joined by the swamp queen Julie Odell.
Lost Bayou Ramblers evolution as a Cajun band continues to excite, challenge, and redefine both genre expectations as well as cultural preconceptions.
With nine albums, a Grammy Nomination, score contributions to the Oscar Nominated Film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and support slots with Arcade Fire and Violent Femmes, Lost Bayou continues to swing wide from their Louisiana home base.
Cover is $15 at the door.
- The Music Garden, Sun., August 13, 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Lafayette
Come out to the Music Garden to support the Down Syndrome Association of Acadiana.
The day will be filled with singing, dancing, games, a “musical” petting zoo and more.
Light refreshments will be served. Members can get in for $5 and non-members will pay $10.
RSVP to Sherry at (337) 234-3109
- Geno Delafose and The French Rockin Boogie at Route 92, Sun., Aug. 13, 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Youngsville
Come out to Route 92 in Youngsville, Louisiana to rock out with Geno Delafose and The French Rockin Boogie.
Route 92 was voted Best Bar and Best Place for Live Music in the Times Best of Acadiana competition.