October in Louisiana
Sitting here at my desk in Seattle, wrapped in a sweater, sipping on Market Spice Tea, watching the skies crystalline tears slide down the windows of my corner Capitol Hill apartment, I remember the life I left behind in Louisiana. A state I return to once or twice a year in order to get my fix of community, loving friends, music, dancing and incredible food.
October is coming up, maybe one of the best months to travel to Louisiana, and you bet I’ll be there. It’s the month when the weather starts to change, nearing the end of hurricane season. The 90-degree temps move into the 70s and 80s. The nights are chillier the deeper into the month you go, but the days are sunny and warm, filled with the scent of Sweet Olive. And just as everyone eases back into their routines, the musicians return home from summer tours and camps, life becomes normal again and the month is showered with festivals and events.
Louisiana is full of festivals. For tamales. For crawfish. For all kinds of music. And that’s not even a spoonful. October is one of the best months, embodying the spicy sounds of Festivals Acadiens et Créoles and Black Pot Festival, both in Lafayette, Louisiana.
If you’re into Cajun and Zydeco music, then Festivals Acadiens et Créoles is a MUST, set this year October 14 – 16, 2011 in Lafayette, Louisiana’s Girard Park. Getting its start in 1977, and growing throughout the years, the festival is now a three-day jam-balaya of top Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco musicians, plus a food feast, crafts fair, Louisiana Folk Roots sessions, Cajun and Créole culture fest and fun for the whole family. This year, the festival kicks off Friday night with the magical sounds of Geno Delafose and Christine Balfa and waltzes through the weekend with Bonsoir, Catin, Joel Savoy the Pine Leaf Boys and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, to name only a few of the magical acts scheduled. It’s all about enjoying yourself, kicking up some dust and seeing your favorite bands. Oh, and it’s FREE! Yeah, you heard right.
Black Pot Festival, first created in 2006 by talented artists including the Red Stick Ramblers, is set the last weekend of the month in Acadian Village, an authentic replica of an Acadian-style settlement. A conglomeration of Cajun, Zydeco, Old-Time and other soupçons of music here and there, it’s also an accordion contest. It’s a cast-iron cook-off gathered around the grounds, filling the air with scents of gumbo, cowboy stew and other exquisitely prepared robust concoctions. (Anthony Bourdain would flip his lid, it’s so good. Oh wait, he already has! Check it out here.) It’s a family reunion whether you know anyone or not. It’s a community of musicians, cooks, dancers, singers, campers, pickers, grinners, friends, families and those just wanting to hear some good tunes and meet some fine folks. 2011 celebrates the sixth year of the two-day festival with incredible artists such as Betse Ellis, Brass Bed, Jesse Legé, Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz and Rafe and Clelia Stefanini. This year also includes a camp at Lakeview Park & Beach in Eunice, Louisiana the week prior (Sunday, October 23 – Wednesday, October 26).
Suddenly the sun starts to come out in Seattle. Even the Emerald City sky is excited about October in Louisiana. How to get there? Fly into Lafayette, Louisiana, or New Orleans two hours east if you want to experience some Crescent City good times before heading across the Atchafalaya. There are hotels and B&B’s throughout town, and don’t even get me started on where to eat. Lawd! Start with food at the festivals (y’all, it’s good!) and then make your way out to spots in town. Don’t be shy, just ask people. They’ll tell you. Writing about restaurants would take another few pages. But I will give you a few links to help you out.
Of course there are also Louisiana Crossroads events, the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff in New Iberia, the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta, etc. etc. I say just take the whole month of October off and attend them all. You’ll find me on the dance floor. See y’all there!
– Julia Price
http://countryny.typepad.com/countryny// / (Video c/o Black Pot)
(F.A.& C. poster designed by Toby Rodriguez)