We can’t explain how we’ve missed Lafayette in all our trips across the South but we knew we wanted to visit this time. We had heard of the Longfellow-Evangeline State Park in some RV blog or article and we have had an interest in Acadian history so this was a start.
On arriving in Louisiana we stopped at the Welcome Center. Lafayette was having the Festival International du Louisiane for 5 days starting the day we were to arrive. We checked into the RV park, ran across the street to the Visitor Center in Scott, LA and found that yes there was a huge festival with over 600 musicians from 16 countries playing for 5 days and it was FREE. We got directions to the FREE shuttle to the closed off downtown streets and saw music from Louisiana, Canada, Niger, France and more with thousands of friendly people and juried food vendors. And it was on Thursday!!! Wow.
The next day we explored Bayou Teche and Acadian Louisiana. Old small towns, low country, huge live oaks dripping with moss and a slow easy lifestyle. We had a great history lesson at Longfellow-Evangeline State Park, a preserved Acadian homestead.
In nearby St. Martinville we saw the Evangeline Oak from Longfellow’s epic poem “Evangeline” which told the story of the Acadians expulsion from Nova Scotia and their arrival in Louisiana. Our park guide led us to perhaps the best all-time Crab Cakes at a tiny place called St. John Restaurant. Our route then took us through New Iberia where we looked for signs of the author James Lee Burke. Then on to Avery Island and a tour of the Tabasco Factory. Still run by the family on the small island, this one facility supplies every Tabasco product world-wide.
The music continued on Friday night with a Cajun jam session at the Scott visitor center. On the front porch musicians from 8 to 80 got together each week and just played. Fiddles, guitars, accordians, Dianne was given a triangle to play along. Lots of instrumentals and vocals all in French. It reminded us so much of the Irish sessions we have enjoyed. Everyone welcome, everyone friendly.
No visit to Cajun Country is complete without experiencing the FOOD. We happened to be in the heart of Boudin (pronounced bo-dan) country. As far as we could learn, boudin is a sausage made from rice and pork and various spices. Some are fried, some are link style, some are fried balls. They were very tasty but we couldn’t help but think “we shouldn’t be eating this stuff”. Low fat, no! High flavor, yes! We bought some other “specialty meats” including andouille and a marinated Boston butt pork. Its no secret the Cajun’s can cook.
Next trip across the Southern US, we’ll definitely spend more time in and around Lafayette but we had to get on our way to Durango.
What great fun! So glad you stumbled onto this….music, food, fun folks…..
Sounds like a thorough sampling of Cajun history, food and music…Longfellow included.
Great timing – I would have loved to hear the music (and FREE!) Confess I really didn’t know anything about the Acadian Expulsion, but I now gather that it is related to the Cajun music and food I associate with Louisiana, right?
We learned a lot in our brief visit. The unique culture that is Acadiana is a mix of the exiled and the Louisiana born French who were called Creole. I once worked as a rep. for a New Brunswick Peat Moss company who were French speakers with relatives in Louisiana. That helped spur my interest.
Hey you two lovebirds….
Ok Don and I were in the meadows and forests in Canada where they were rounding up the French/Acadia people to ship them down to the N’Orlens area. Fifteen people escaped and stayed in what is now French/Canada. Also, I have all the approved color charts for painting our house the “approved historic” colors of the region. So, if you fall in love with the area when you come home we can have a King House Painting Party!! Enjoy !! Love, Marilyn