Festival Acadiens et Créoles Creating New Series

In an effort to expand the cultural and educational aspects of the Festival Acadiens et Créoles year-round, festival organizers and supporters have introduced a free monthly series of Cajun music, culture, and history, according to this feature from The Acadiana Advocate.

The Founder of Festival Acadiens et Créoles, Barry Ancelet, wanted to create a monthly community event that honors the historical, contemporary, and future cultural traditions of Cajun and Creole culture. In conjunction with the Festival Acadiens et Créoles, Anaclet and festival supporters have organized Legacy Series, a monthly offering of lectures and musical performances that are designed to explore the art, music, and cuisine of Acadiana.

Barry Ancelet, also a professor and longtime folklorist, spoke about this new way for the local community to come together to not only be entertained by Cajun and Creole traditions but also be educated by them. Ancelot said, “the presentations will be entertaining but will also matter. We will explore the legacy from those who inspired us. We will consider what they gave us and how it continues to inspire us. The Festival team has been considering ways to have ongoing activity and presence throughout the year.”

Festivals Acadiens et Créoles launched its first event in the first Legacy Series on Thursday, July 7th at the Feed & Seed in Lafayette. The inaugural event featured “The Legacy of Dewy Balfa,” a Cajun musician and music ambassador from Mamou. Balfa’s musical legacy, recordings, and live performances all helped to shape and popularize Cajun Music far outside of his Acadiana homeland. The legacy of this prominent figure in Cajun music was told with performances from Dewy Balfa’s daughter, Christine Balfa of Balfa Toujours, as well as Grammy Award winner Steve Riley and fiddler David Greeley. Riley and Greely were both nominated for four Grammys as members of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, and Christine Balfa was nominated for a Grammy with Bonsoir Catin.

The event, according to Barry Ancelet, sought to not only hear, celebrate, and consider the musical legacy of Dewey Balfa, but to also “preserve the tradition” that he revered. In fact, the Balfa Brothers had played at the first informal Festival Acadiens et Créoles event on March 26, 1974. The event was then called “A Tribute to Cajun Music,” and it saw crowds of local music enthusiasts gathering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to listen to musical legends of the craft. Performers included the Balfa band, Dennis McGee and Sady Courville, Clifton Chenier, Nathan Abshire, Marc Savoy, and many others, all of whom performed the concert for the benefit of French Journalists as well as the local community.

When starting the planning and conception of the event, Barry Ancelet and Pat Mould, the organizer and promoter of the Festival Acadiens et Créoles, were always very cognizant to imbue an educational aspect to their Legacy Series, through what Ancelet affectionately refers to as “guerrilla education.”

He spoke about the Legacy Series’s connection to the Festival Acadiens et Créoles by saying, “like the festival itself, this series is designed to honor those who have left us so much of what we celebrate today. It is focused not only on their past contributions but also on the ongoing impact of their legacies, as contemporary musicians continue to use the past to create the future. The series will give us the opportunity to produce and present informed entertainment throughout the year.”

Ancelet revealed that the next performance in the ongoing free monthly series will feature the music of Joseph and Cléoma Falcon and that he already has a list of over 60 programs to present in the Legacy Series, making for many more educational and entertaining performances for the Acadiana community.

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