Festivals Acadiens et Créoles Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Celebration

March 20, 2024

Tuesday, March 26, 2024, marks the 50th anniversary of the 1974 concert that evolved to become Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, a testament to its profound impact on the local, national, and global stage. As the largest Cajun and Zydeco Festival, arguably the first of its kind, this three-day celebration began as a humble one-day concert. It was born out of a deep respect for the culture and a commitment to serve as the community’s art and culture champion, a role it continues to play today.

Founders Barry Ancelet and Keith Cravey planned and programmed the first event, “A Tribute to Cajun Music,” which was held at Blackham Coliseum and served as a publicity event for the early CODOFIL movement. 

“It all began when CODOFIL wanted to create a cultural program devoted to Cajun and Creole music to spark support for the state’s indigenous French culture. We were inspired by musician and community scholar Dewey Balfa, who worked with Ralph Rinzler at the Newport Folk Festival and then at the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife,” explains Barry Ancelet, President of Festivals Acadiens et Créoles. “Balfa suggested a community concert to bring Cajun and Creole music from the honkytonks to the mainstage. We did it, and the concert was a pivotal moment in our culture’s history. It marked the day our community and the world fell back in love with our unique culture.”

The first concert included musicians such as the Balfa Brothers, Nathan Abshire, Dennis McGee, Marc Savoy, the Ardoin Family and Clifton Chenier. 50 years later, their children and families continue to grace the stages of Festivals Acadiens et Créole, now held in 

Girard Park. This continuity of generations is a testament to the festival's inclusivity and its ability to bring people together in celebration of Cajun and Creole music and culture. 

Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, which is slated for October 11-13, 2024, has a lineup of events and celebrations planned throughout the year.

  • 50th Anniversary Book Release 
  • Special Events Throughout the Year 
  • Photography Exhibit 
  • 50th Anniversary Symposium 
  • And More 

“Festivals Acadiens et Créoles started out as an experimental one-night concert. Programmers had no idea that 12,000 people would come to celebrate our cultural specificity. Today, hundreds of thousands of festival-goers, young and old, show up for this cultural self-celebration,” says Barry Ancelet. “Styles and sounds have evolved, but our original goals still drive our production philosophy today. After half a century, Festivals Acadiens et Créoles is still committed to celebrating our culture and passing it on, encouraging both preservation and innovation in the same moment.”

About Festivals Acadiens et Créoles: Festivals Acadiens et Créoles is an annual festival held in Lafayette, Louisiana, celebrating the region’s rich Cajun and Creole heritage. Since the first festival in 1974, the three-day event has become the world’s largest Cajun and Zydeco festival, attracting visitors from across the globe. Festivals Acadiens et Créoles features performances by local musicians, cultural workshops, and culinary experiences. The event showcases local artisans, providing an immersive and authentic celebration of Acadiana’s vibrant traditions. 2024 will mark Festivals Acadiens et Créoles’ 50th anniversary.

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