Festival Acadiens et Creoles - Celia Thibodeaux, left, dances with her nephew, Jack Tauzin and her brother Lawrence Thibodeaux during Festival Acadiens et Creoles at Girard Park in Lafayette, La.

Celia Thibodeaux, left, dances with her nephew, Jack Tauzin and her brother Lawrence Thibodeaux during Festival Acadiens et Creoles at Girard Park in Lafayette, La.

Festivals Acadiens et Créoles

More than 80 years ago folklorists John and Alan Lomax visited South Louisiana to record Cajun and Creole songs to be added to the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture). It was the first time Cajun and Creole songs were captured on tape for archival purposes.

In 1964, Dewey Balfa, Gladdie Thibodeaux and Louis “Vinesse” Lejeune were invited to perform at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island — the first Cajun musicians ever accorded that honor. Balfa didn’t know how the South Louisiana music would be received and was surprised that audience members sat and listened, as opposed to dancing like they did back home.

 “He (Balfa) noticed how people were sitting down and listening to the music and giving it a certain amount of respect,” said Dewey Balfa’s daughter, Christine Balfa.

At the end of Dewey Balfa’s set, the audience responded with a standing ovation.

Buoyed by Lomax and inspired by Newport, Balfa was determined to ignite that same respect and adoration in his home state. He came back to Louisiana with a purpose.

“His goal was to bring home the echo of that Newport applause back to Louisiana,” said Barry Jean Ancelet, a folklorist and scholar who is now head of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Department of Modern Languages.

Festivals Acadiens et Créoles - Cedric Watson performs during Festival Acadiens et Creoles in Lafayette, La.

Cedric Watson performs during Festival Acadiens et Creoles in Lafayette, La.

Celebrating 43 Years of Festivals!

The result was “A Tribute to Cajun Music” on March 26, 1974, in Lafayette’s Blackham Coliseum, a culturally significant event that would evolve into today’s Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, a culturally rich, multi-layered festival celebrating 43 years in existence.

This fall the festival celebrates its 43rd anniversary with six music stages and over 60 bands performing an amazing assortment of Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music. Attendees will also enjoy the cuisine, unique arts and crafts, activities for children and numerous special events.

 “There is no other festival anywhere that does more than Festivals Acadiens et Créoles to showcase and preserve Cajun/Creole music, language and culture,” said Steve Riley. “Music, food, workshops, jam sessions, interviews, on and on. It’s all there at Festivals Acadiens et Créoles!”

 For more information on the music, food, workshops, jam sessions, interviews and all the other activities taking place visit LafayetteTravel.com/Festivals-Acadiens.

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