Nov. 23, 2016 02:48 PM

Started after his untimely passing in 2014, the Al Berard Music Festival returns on Dec. 3 at NUNU Arts and Culture Collective in Arnaudville. Now in its third year, there are big changes in store, including a new location and a shorter day, plus some old favorites and a can’t-miss reunion set. The eight-hour festival features performances by Major Handy and Lil’ Buck, Michael Juan Nunez, Horace Trahan, and The Traiteurs.

Al Berard’s daughter, Laura Berard, talks about improving on a great thing.

Why was the festival moved to the new location?
The town of Henderson has been a gracious host to the festival for the past two years. We decided to downsize and make it a more intimate venue. The one thing we can’t control is weather and NUNU is a great place for the festival because there are outside/inside elements. The Old Sweet Potato building will host the musical entertainment. When you walk in that building, it is like walking into the past. Artisan vendors and exhibitions will be held outside (weather permitting). NUNU Arts & Culture Collective is a very inspirational place. NUNU will be open for business that day, so people will be able to visit and learn about NUNU.

What are you most looking forward to?
I can’t wait for the music! We have a whole new diverse line-up of bands. The Traiteurs Reunion will be very special. It was a band that my father was a part of. Those guys would play every year for the Medicine Show which helped fund the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Fund. To have them play for the Al Berard Festival is very special and bittersweet.

What is something that will be back at the festival that you think people will be happy to see again?

We will feature students who have benefited from the fund in between the bands. These students have either benefited from instrument donations, scholarships or grants made by the Al Berard Memorial Music Fund at Community Foundation of Acadiana. It gives people a chance to see what the fund is doing for our local community. We are also bringing back the dance competition. This time Zydeco style during Horace Trahan ‘s set.

With festivals, the first year is usually about launching, the second about ironing out and then you start to see a groove. Do you find that to be true? Is the festival finding its groove? What are some obstacles y’all overcame in the past two years?
Oh yes … We are finally finding our groove. The first year, we were fortunate enough to get advice from other festival coordinators. Every last detail was covered from parking to what kind of bowls to eat from. The second year we fine tuned everything. Our committee met a lot!!!! The past two festivals were over 12 hours long. We figured out that it was too long for everyone in general. This year we are cutting back the number of bands and holding the festival from noon to 8 p.m. Like anything in life, it takes practice. We are so fortunate to have such a supportive community. Without our volunteers the festival could not happen.


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