Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Pride of Lafayette

Our second day at the Festival International de Louisiane (FIL) in Lafayette was a bit less rushed and allowed time to observe the people at the Festival and those behind the Festival.

While waiting for the shuttle to the Festival, we heard one visitor say to his friend "(My hometown) has about the same population. Why can't we put on something like this. Look at this. They give this Festival away and still make money. It's all about tourism."

His observation of the Festival's support and success seemed pretty accurate--at least, to these two tourists.

There is no admission charge for the five-day FIL; no daily pass, wrist band, badge, or ribbon to buy in advance. The only request is that people attending the Festival purchase a pin, T shirt, poster, and/or an article of Craftsmen Merchandise (mug, cup, pendant, or coaster).

The pins (shown in photo #1 above) com-memorate the 25th annual Festival and were elaborate works of art.

Some interesting numbers associated with the Festival are: 350,000 and 1,500 and 4. The photos shown here are a handful of the 350,000 people who were expected to attend the FIL.

And a few words about the attendees. There is alcohol readily available, there are large numbers of people in the streets, and there are people who are standing or dancing in front of those with chairs--and everyone is polite, friendly, and enjoying themselves.

There was no rush to get from Point A to Point B, there was no instance of the effects of too much alcohol, and there were no complaints about having one's view blocked by others.

People meeting friends began conversations in the middle of the street, on the dance floor, at the line in front of a food vendor,...

There was an invitation in one of the Festival's publications that seemed to be the "motto" of the Festival: "Remember, you're in Lafayette. Louisiana. Acadians invented Good Times so get into a festive mood and ENJOY!"

Another significant number is 1,500. This number represents the number of volunteers who contribute time before and during the Festival. That number, plus the fact (according to a member of the Board of Directors, whom we met in the Festival Shop), that there are only 4 paid employees, shows the community's investment and com-mitment to making the Festival a success.

And judging from comments made by the partici-pants, it is an honor to be invited to perform.

And speaking of performers, we enjoyed a set by Steve Riley (right) and the Mamou Playboys, a very popular local Cajun band and

Joel Savoy, Jesse Legé, and the Cajun Country Revival. Joel (second from the right in the photo on the left) is the son of Marc Savoy (of the Savoy Music Store in nearby Eunice, LA).

More on the performers tomorrow.

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