As one of the largest FREE public events in the state of Louisiana, Festivals Acadiens et Créoles presented by Capital One Bank just gets bigger and better each year. In recent years, the festival has added a symposium, art exhibit, official run, Anniversary Stage and new stage crowns, along with expanded programming and culinary demonstrations. For 2017, Festivals Acadiens et Créoles has several exciting additions on tap, while also celebrating the makers of the traditional instruments of Cajun and Creole music.
“There are so many ways to enjoy Festivals Acadiens et Créoles this year,” says Vice President of Programming and Development Patrick Mould. “From joining us for the kickoff of Dowtown Alive! in September to attending our symposium at Vermilionville, viewing our art exhibit at Hilliard University Art Museum or coming out to Girard Park on festival weekend and enjoying a cool beverage under one of our new shade structures, we have a little bit of something for everyone!”
A full schedule of events is listed below, but festival dates are Oct. 12-15, 2017. As always, our festival takes place in Girard Park and is FREE and open to the public. More information can be found at www.festivalsacadiens.com, where those who want to show their support can sign up to become a Festival Friend.
Crafting the South Louisiana Sound
Each year, the festival celebrates a different aspect of our culture and the people who work so hard to preserve our Cajun and Creole heritage. This year, Festivals Acadiens et Créoles’s theme is “Crafting the South Louisiana Sound: Tools of Cajun and Creole Music.” Our symposium at Vermilionville on Oct. 12 and exhibit presented by LUS Fiber and Haynie Family Foundation at the Hilliard University Art Museum’s A. Hays Town Building Sept. 8-Oct. 15 will explore the evolution of local musical instruments and their makers through talks, historical artifacts, cutting-edge improvisations and photographs of instrument makers in their workshops.
Sola Violins owner Anya Burgess and archivist with the Center for Louisiana Studies Chris Segura are curating the museum exhibit and have been researching and gathering a collection of South Louisiana handmade instruments. A followup to a 1984 exhibition held at the Lafayette Natural History Museum, “Crafting the South Louisiana Sound” will present more than 60 locally made instruments, ranging from a fiddle fashioned out of a cigar box to accordions, percussion instruments, triangles, rubboards and a pedal steel guitar made from plumbing parts.
“Just like Cajun music, there’s a renewed interest in instrument making,” says Burgess. “A few decades ago it seemed to be on the downturn, and now it’s as relevant as it ever was to build accordions and fiddles. People aren’t doing it out of necessity like they were 100 years ago, but as a craft and a profession.”
Festivals Acadiens et Créoles founder Barry Ancelet explains that the making of instruments for Cajun and Creole musicians has turned into a veritable cottage industry in South Louisiana. “This year, in addition to celebrating the makers of Cajun and Creole music who perform on our multiple stages, we are also celebrating the makers of the instruments that they use to make that great music,” he says.
Official Artist Dennis Paul Williams
This year’s Official Festivals Acadiens et Créoles Pin and Poster Artist is St. Martinville native Dennis Paul Williams. Embracing his Creole heritage, Williams wants the 2017 poster to reflect who he is as an artist and also represent the music, food and art that the festival brings to life each year.
Williams’s poster is a bit more contemporary than some in year’s past and includes the bright colors, ancestral icons and spiritual energy his work has become known for. Expressing the festival’s “earthy rhythm,” the art features silhouettes of instruments, which will be incorporated into the 2017 pin design.
“Music is movement,” Williams says. “It’s pretty hot around here and the music reflects that, as does the kind of food we eat and the kinds of conversations and fellowship we have. Being from here is like being from no other place.”
Williams began his career at the age of 10 with a self-portrait on a pillowcase. Influenced by the death of his father and a diagnosis of congenital heart failure, his works took on an expression of deep spirituality. He’s also been influenced by Louisiana’s Creole culture and music. As guitarist for his brother’s band Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas, he has traveled the world and played the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles stage over the years.
Dance, Eat, Sleep
Hilton Garden Inn Lafayette/Cajundome has joined Festivals Acadiens et Créoles as our official hotel. Located in a great spot to easily attend the festival via shuttle, the hotel has reserved a block of rooms with a special rate. Rooms for stays from Oct. 12-15 will be available until September 21 or until the group block is sold-out, whichever comes first.
“Festivals Acadiens et Créoles is unlike any other event in the Lafayette area and does a wonderful job of demonstrating what Lafayette is all about,” says Hilton Garden Inn Lafayette/Cajundome Sales Manager Amber Slinin. “Partnering with Festivals Acadiens as their host hotel was a no-brainer for us, since we are not only located so close to Girard Park as well as across the street from the festival shuttle, but also because it’s important to us at the Hilton Garden Inn Lafayette/Cajundome to promote authentic local experiences to our guests. We love the way Festivals Acadiens brings together people from all walks of life and spreads the love of the Acadian culture to so many.”
Booking can be done on the hotel website at the link: http://hiltongardeninn.hilton.com/en/gi/groups/
More Ways to Stay Cool
During Festivals Acadiens et Créoles weekend, attendees can look forward to more space in the Atelier tent and air conditioning, along with shade at Scène d’Anniversaire. The Atelier or workshop tent, presented by Chevron, will be expanded, walled in and air conditioned as a means of improving the sound quality and making guests and musicians more comfortable.
At Scène d’Anniversaire or the Anniversary Stage, presented by Yuengling Light on the grounds of the Hilliard University Art Museum, a new shade structure with seating will offer patrons an escape from the October sun.
“We are also looking at further shading Scène Mon Heritage and other places where there is currently no shade,” says Mould. “We are always thinking about what sort of amenities we can bring to people attending the festival. Our mission from the beginning has been to present better signage, better sound,
better tents and better staging to give attendees the best festival experience possible.”
Tour Des Atakapas Duathlon
On Oct. 14, those participating in Tour Des Atakapas—the official run of Festivals Acadiens et Créoles in partnership with T.R.A.I.L.—will have the option of paddling their way to the festival grounds at Girard Park. New to Tour Des Atakapas this year is a a run, paddle, run duathlon, starting with a 1.5-mile run to the Vermilion River, followed by a 2-mile paddle up to Vermilionville and back and ending with a 1.5-mile run back to the finish at Girard Park.
Paddlers will have the option of doing the paddle solo or in tandem with a partner and can bring their own boat or rent one from the Boy Scouts. Kayaks, canoes and paddle boards are also welcome.
All races will start at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 14. Early bird registration is $35 for runners and $45 for paddlers until August 30. Everyone who participates will receive a unique finishers’ medal in the form of a locally produced metallic fiddle.
Important Dates For 2017
Wednesday, Oct. 11: “Crafting the South Louisiana Sound” curator tour from 6-8 p.m.; Anya Burgess and Chris Segura will lead a special tour of the exhibit and share live demonstrations.
Thursday, Oct. 12: Tools of Cajun and Creole Music and Their Makers Symposium at Vermilionville (full schedule to be released soon); book launch at A. Hays Town Building for Anthologie de la littérature louisianaise d’expression française de 1682 à nos jours at 6 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 13: Festivals Acadiens et Créoles opening with cutting of the boudin at 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 14: Tour Des Atakapas at 8:30 a.m. and Festivals Acadiens et Créoles all day
Sunday, Oct. 15: French Mass at 9 a.m. and final day of Festivals Acadiens et Créoles
Save the date for Festivals Acadiens et Créoles Oct. 12-15, 2017!