Les Festivals – Out to Lunch – It’s Acadiana
In the United States people congregate for entertainment in buildings, like multiplex movie theaters, or dedicated chunks of real estate like Broadway in New York, and Disney World in Florida. Here in Acadiana, we have a parallel universe of popular entertainment. None of it involves massive permanent construction. It requires only an open field or a blocked off street. Here we congregate for festivals.
There are two major long-running festivals that are known among fans of music and French culture way beyond the confines of Acadiana.
The oldest is Festivals Acadiens. Starting in the 1970’s as a combination of smaller Cajun and Creole cultural celebrations, Festivals Acadiens has grown in size, stature, and economic impact under the guidance of Barry Ancelet.
Barry is the father of the festival and one of the principal figures in the conservation of Cajun culture.
The other big Francophone festival in town is Festival International. Held in downtown Lafayette every April since 1986, the festival features French speaking musicians from around the world and attracts audiences big enough to take over most of the city.
Scott Feehan is President of the Board of Festival International and its interim Executive Director.
Renee Matamoros doesn’t produce one festival a year, she produces 12. For two seasons of 6 weeks each, in Spring and Fall, Renee stages Rhythms on The River in the Town Square at River Ranch in Lafayette.
In Acdaiana big fun is big business.