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Every year, our family looks forward to October. Of course, there are the obvious reasons of Halloween, fall temperatures, gumbo and football, but Festival Acadien, or officially Festival Acadiens et Creoles, has become a favorite for our family of six. When we had our first child and lived in Shreveport, La., we would travel to Lafayette and take her to the festival so she could experience the sights and sounds and pure, dusty mess of a South Louisiana festival.
Fast forward six years and three more kids later, we moved to Lafayette and it has become an October tradition! Now, going to a festival with four kids, with the intent to stay all day, is much different than grabbing two lawn chairs and heading out. We make an entire weekend of it! My husband and our two boys usually head out the day before the festival to set up our tent and claim a good spot amongst our regular festival going friends that we meet up with every year. Just setting up a tent is an understatement for some of the festival goers, as some bring couches, recliners, string lights up, and bring a TV (especially if it’s a LSU game weekend) Saturday morning, we head out with our crew … I’m talking ice chest on wheels, a wagon, bag of snacks, picnic blanket, 6 chairs, MONEY, sunscreen, portable table, scooters, football, Frisbee, change of clothing for the “in case,” wet wipes (a must), hydrocortisone, etc … you get it. Watching our crew of festival rats hauling all of this to our spot is quite the scene.
It doesn’t take us long to get settled, and then the fun begins. The Cajun music and sounds of accordions and fiddles fills the air. We sit back and watch the crowd of people under the oak trees dancing barefoot in the dust. The kids ride their scooters up and down the hills, embarrassingly flying under other peoples’ tents occasionally. But as we say to each other down here “It’s all good!”
Then starts the back and forth trek to the food area umpteen times a day to get funnel cakes, alligator on a stick, shrimp and tasso pasta, snoballs, etc … (with an occasional detour to the beer truck, for survival purposes, of course). The food is endless. It’s a day to truly eat like a Cajun and not worry about it one bit. In fact, we sort of take pride in seeing how much we can fit inside ourselves.
We make trips to the port a potties, where it never fails that they step out and make horrible faces and blurt out what they saw in there. Mid afternoon, we make the trip to the craft and vendor area where they make the same beaded necklaces and the same painted pottery year after year (all for free)!
Tidbit: Face painting is free in the children’s craft area. You will find other face painters that you have to pay for in other areas of the festival.
Every year they beg me to buy them each a $12 surprise ball from a vendor that unravels to unveil trinkets in every layer … $12 x 4 kids = $48 of treasures that go in the trash, but they love them. We play and dance till the sun goes down and the mosquitos come out, all the while barefooted with shirts covered in red snoball juice. At the end of the day, we roll up our belongings in the picnic blanket to leave there overnight and we walk away filled with new memories, dirt boogers, and dust incrusted in our ears and eyes.