Date: April 24, 2023, Authors: Annie Quebedeaux, Halle Deville
Festival International de Louisiane is a significant cultural event in Lafayette. People all around the city are searching for opportunities to get involved in Festival International and convey their piece of Lafayette culture. Every year, vendors, entertainers, and artists come together to create Festival International.
Cheryl Devall, who moved to Lafayette from California, has a lot to look forward to this upcoming festival season. Festival International de Louisiane showcases the Louisiana culture that people who aren’t native to Acadiana can experience first hand.
Devall works as the general manager for the local music and culture station, KRVS 88.7FM. KRVS broadcasts Festival International live all weekend long.
“We want to let people know who we are,” Devall said. “We are the exclusive live stream of this event.”
KVRS uses this event as a chance to get their name out and bring a bigger audience to the festival. Devall plans to grow with the festival.
“I’m willing to learn as much as I can,” Devall says. “Just building the relationships with people behind the festival and talking to other folks about what it means to them.”
Working with KRVS, Devall got her first experience at Festival last year covering the last day. Going into Festival this year, Devall is excited to get more of the Festival International experience and work firsthand covering it.
Amis Grocery, which opened in July of 2022, will participate in Festival International de Louisiane for the first time this year. Bradley Cruice, the co-owner, has lived in Lafayette for most of his life, so Festival is not a new topic for him.
You can anticipate a lot of traffic during the festival if you operate a business in downtown Lafayette. Cruice said he planned on the shop being downtown and would not have done it any other way.
“We’re looking forward to it, it’s a much anticipated event for us,” said Cruice.
When asked about his favorite memory of Festival throughout the years, Cruice recalls different musical performances.
“Getting lost in the crowd with the music; you can just kind of escape and still be in Lafayette,” Cruice said.
As a Lafayette resident, Cruice has a feeling of pride in Festival International.
“Pride in that it’s volunteer-based, and that so many people from across the community, across the state, and really across the country come to volunteer for Festival,” said Cruice.
Cruice has observed the list of performers for Festival International de Lousiane become more packed and diverse over the years, resulting in continued growth for the festival as a whole.
Mallory Magnon, Festival International de Louisiane intern, has had the opportunity to witness the festival’s planning and the preparation behind the scenes. Magnon was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, and she takes pride in Festival. With multiple years of experiencing Festival International as a guest, this is the first year that she was able to help with the preparation.
The planning of the Festival International de Louisiane is not a simple task, Magnon said. They have a crew that works year-round to run the event.
“It’s really awesome to just see the product and everybody’s efforts from this amazing festival,” said Magnon.
Festival allows for multiple cultures to be present in a small space. An entire community comes together in different ways in order to make this happen.
“Festival International to me is really just this symbol of a community coming together to create this really amazing thing that everyone can enjoy and appreciate,” Magnon said. “We bring in talent from all over the world into our little town of Lafayette, Louisiana. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”
Magnon said that she thinks that Festival will only continue to grow and evolve during the years to come.
“I believe as funding increases and the team continues to grow, I think the show is just going to keep getting bigger and bigger,” Magnon said.
Caroline Merryman, 21, is a newly established business owner looking for more ways to grow. She sees Festival International de Louisiane as the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Caroline’s Cookies is a cookie business located in Lafayette. With delicious and flavorful cookies, Merryman is always looking for ways to expand her horizons. This upcoming year, Merryman was given the opportunity to have a booth to sell her cookies at Festival International.
“My goal is for as many people in Lafayette, or the Acadiana area, to know about us and enjoy our cookies,” Merryman said.
Meryman was able to get her business a spot at the last minute when a booth opened up. Caroline’s Cookies is participating in Festival International for the first time.
“It is a good opportunity for small businesses who maybe don’t have store fronts,” Merryman said. “I’ve been able to find so many new small businesses at Festival.”
Merryman has always dreamed of this opportunity. She hopes to continue to grow with Festival International and participate in the years to come.
Adeline Miller, 21, is the fiddle player for the band Amis du Teche. Miller, born in Vermont, moved to Breaux Bridge when she was 5 years old. Miller became interested in Cajun-French music after watching a group of Cajun men play music together at a coffee shop in Breaux Bridge.
Amis du Teche consists of Adeline Miller (fiddle), Amelia Powell (guitar), Robert Miller (bass), Laykin Usle (drums) and Luke Huval (guitar). The band originally started when Miller and Powell began playing together at 8 years old. They later picked up the other members as they grew up along Bayou Teche, earning them the name “Amis du Teche”.
Amis du Teche is performing for Festival International de Louisiana on the “Scene Laborde Earles Fais Do Do” stage on April 29 from 9 to 10:15 a.m.
“Music is something you can play for the rest of your life, it will always be there,” Miller said.
Miller said that she and her younger brother, Robert Miller, started performing on the children’s stage at an early age. From performing 30-minute concerts as children to now performing on one of the main stages, this pair of siblings initially grew up on the festival grounds.
As a frequent attendee and performer, Miller is passionate about Festival International de Louisiane and all its unique components.
“Everyone coming from different countries, how excited they are to share their culture with us and how excited they are to learn from ours; the experience in itself can honestly change the way you see the world,” Miller said.
When thinking of Festival International de Louisiane, the music you hear throughout the day instantly comes to mind. Christiaan Mader has had the experience of performing live at Festival International for years.
Mader has been a part of several bands throughout his life and dreamed of playing on the Festival International stage.
“Getting onto a Festival stage was a really important milestep for me,” Mader said. “It was a big honor to be asked to represent your hometown in some way.”
Mader has performed at Festival numerous times and had great experiences performing onstage. Mader described playing a nighttime gig in 2018 that stands out to him. He performed in front of a lively crowd that he has never experienced before.
“The feeling of just how powerful that is, is just uncanny,” Mader said. “There is nothing like it.”
Mader strongly believes in the organization of Festival International and all it brings to the community in Lafayette. Spreading the culture of Louisiana music, food and art has impacted his life. Festival is a tradition he hopes to continue with his family for years to come.
To get involved in a piece of Lafayette culture, join the festivities Downtown, on April 26th to April 30th.
For more of our Festival International de Louisiane coverage, click here.