With more than 400 festivals, Louisiana averages over a festival every day. It's easy to see why there seems to be a festival for every crop harvested here, every indigenous dish cooked here, every type of music that's played here, every element of our culture. Let's just say that for nearly every aspect of life in Louisiana, there's a festival celebrating. Visit these sites for up to date information on the many Louisiana Festivals.
Festivals Acadiens began with "Tribute to Cajun Music"
The first Tribute to Cajun Music festival was presented March 26, 1974. Some musicians say this event was the beginning of the revival of Cajun music and of the rebirth of pride in the Cajun culture. Its planners had less grand intentions.
This report appeared in Acadiana Profile magazine several months after the Tribute.
What started out to be a modest demonstration of Cajun music before a group of foreign journalists turned out to be a massive music extravaganza unprecedented in Louisiana history.
The event was named "A Tribute to Cajun Music" and it brought more than 12,000 listeners through a night of rain and mud into Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette on March 26, 1974.
The concert featured a dozen native Louisiana Cajun bands who played tunes from various eras, tracing the music from its origin to more contemporary forms. They showed the evolution of the music from its simple origin, which employed only fiddles, triangles and accordions to its more contemporary state, which incorporates elements of jazz, blues, and pop music modified through electrical attachments.
The concert was to be followed by a big Cajun dance, but many people couldn't wait until after the main performances. Hand-clapping and toe-tapping to the music appeased them for a while, but the music turned them on, and many danced in the bleachers and near the stage.
The audience was as diverse as was the music they were listening to. Some old Cajun people were there singing along; middle-aged men in business suits sat with their families, smiling ear to ear at the spectacle; and young people in jeans and T-shirts danced to the music down near the stage.
On stage were the likes of Clifton Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band, who claim Lafayette and Houston as their domiciles; Bois Sec Ardoin and the Ardoin Brothers frorn Evangeline Parish, with Cannery (sic) Fontenot; Blackie Forestier and the Cajun Aces from Jennings; Nashville stars Jimmy "C" Newman and Rufus Thibodeaux; Cajun blues singer Nathan Abshire and his group; ballad singer Inez Catalon; fiddlers Dennis McGee, S.D. Courville and Merlin Fontenot; Lionel Leleux, William Connor and Mark Savoy; and the Balfa Brothers.
At first, the concert was to have consisted of only two or three Cajun bands entertaining the writers and broadcasters attending the International Association of French Speaking Journalists convention in Lafayette. But broad public interest in the event was becoming apparent as word of the concert spread, so promoters decided to have the show in Lafayette Municipal Auditorium, which would seat 2,300. Public demand continued to grow to the point that the promoters of the show decided to have the music festival in the coliseum, which has an official seating capacity of 8,500.
Even with the all-night rain and mud and shortage of parking places around the coliseum, the concert proved to be the most massive assembly of listeners and Cajun bands ever, according to Barry Ancelet, coordinator of the event. The size of the crowd put Lafayette Fire Department officials in the uncomfortable position of either doing their job by the book and limiting the number of people allowed in the building or going along with the happy- go-lucky attitude that filled the night and admitting all who showed up for the show. The spirit of the night had its way by and large, though some reportedly were turned away.
The concert was sponsored by the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institute.
Announcement that the event would be public was a test of the popularity of Cajun music and in a way a trial of the influence of the CODOFIL organization, the state agency which since 1968 has headed the movement to revive and expand the French language and culture especially prevalent in south Louisiana.
"You will hear the soul of a people and see the pride of the state. You will witness a language and culture that has refused to die although threatened time and time again," said CODOFIL chairman James Domengeaux in announcing the affair would be open to the public. "It is only fitting that we pay homage to these Louisiana musicians of the past and present who have kept the language alive through the music."