National Day of the Acadians Sunday at Vermilionville

by Mary Tutwiler

Grab your vuvusela, we've got another use for it. Grab your vuvusela, we've got another use for it. Sunday, August 15, is the National Day of the Acadians. And that means the Tintamarre.

Tintamarre - "big noise" - is more than a cultural event; it's a political statement. Descendents of the Acadians still remain in eastern Canada 250 years after the Grand Dérangement of 1755. Some of the French families who had settled in Nova Scotia in the 17th century, aided by the Micmac Indians, fled expulsion by the British. They traveled to the far north, to an isolated peninsula that juts out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the province of New Brunswick. There, the families - the LeBlancs, the Landrys, the Poiriers, the Maillets - regrouped in small villages and began again, building a life free to practice their religion and speak their native tongue.

They lived their lives in French, making little noise, until 1955. That year marked the 200th anniversary of the deportation. On Aug. 15, the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the Acadians, residents went out into the streets of Canadian Acadia. At precisely 5:55 p.m. (17:55 in Canadian time), they began banging on pots and pans or anything they could find. The big noise, Donatien Gaudet, an 86-year-old Acadian activist explains, "was to tell the world that we are still living."

This year, Vermilionville, here in Acadiana, celebrates the Day of the Acadians beginning at 10 a.m. Admission is free for a day of Acadian cultural events including Cajun dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, weaving, fiddle-playing, storytelling, bousillage making, Job's Tear rosary making, sewing, pine needle basket making, woodcarving and of course some high energy Cajun dance music. While a Tintamarre is not scheduled, it's time for the Cajuns to take part in the big noisy climax to a day to Cajun pride. So bring your noisemaker and don't leave until the world hears the great Cajun cacophony of being.

For more info, call 337-233-4077 or go to the Vermilionville website.