Zydeco Fest kicks off 30th year Friday

by Heather Miller

Known to many as the world's largest zydeco music festival, Zydeco Fest is heating up all weekend long in Plaisance. What began in a farmer's field with 400 neighbors coming together for "a foot stompin' good time," Zydeco Fest is marking three decades of celebrating zydeco music with events running all weekend long in Plaisance.

Zydeco Fest will host 14 bands at Zydeco Park in Plaisance this weekend, with Lawrence Ardoin & Traditional Creole kicking off Saturday's stage at 12:30 p.m. and Grammy-winner Chubby Carrier and his Bayou Swamp Band leading off Sunday's set.

Other zydeco legends on the lineup include Dustin Sonnier, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, Rockin Dopsie Jr. and many more.

According to the festival's website, the music fete has gained the reputation of being the world's largest zydeco music festival and was started out of fear that "Creole and Zydeco music was dying out:"

In the days of old, the Creole Community would gather at harvest time and work together to complete their tasks. When a family would have a bouchere` (butchering of a hog), everyone in the community would come over and share in the work and cooking of fresh meat.

When the work was finished, the people would celebrate and entertain themselves with a "La La" ( Creole French for house dance.) Instruments used to create "La La" music were the scrubboard (frottoir), spoons, fiddle, triangles (ti-fers), and an accordion.

When times got tough for a family, they would throw a "La La", a Saturday night dance in the living room. Emptying the room of all furniture, they would charge ten or fifteen cents admission and sell gumbo, homemade beer and lemonade. Even churches would give benefit "La La" to support different functions of the church.

The first Zydeco Festival in 1982 was started on a farmer's field in the Plaisance community on the outskirts of Opelousas, with four hundred of our neighbors attending.

These traditions of yesteryear may be only a memory for some, but it is the testimony that the Zydeco Music Festival serves. A testimony to those who came before....to the ancestors who toiled in the fields under the hot sun to take care of their families....to those who shared with one another during good and bad times...especially to the ancestors who celebrated, laughed, and loved despite the hardships they encountered.
Tickets are $12 for Saturday if you order in advance, and $15 at the gates. Admission on Sunday is $20 in advance or $25 at the gates.

Check out the full lineup here, and click here to purchase tickets in advance.