If you don’t have a Cajun or Creole bloodline, it’s daunting trying to figure out the culture of South Louisiana. Oh, it’s easy to enjoy that culture, but knowing it and understanding it can be a challenge.
That’s solved with a visit to Vermilionville in Lafayette Parish. Even people who have been to South Louisiana a hundred times learn things at the place known formally as the Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park. It’s a representation of a village from 1765-1890 featuring 19 restored and reproduced buildings. Real people bring it to life. Stroll around, and you’ll meet Cajun accordion player Jules Guidry, seamstress Brenda LaLonde, woodcarver Cliff Mire, fiddle player Merlin Fontenot and many others who know the folkways and folktales of the region.
If you’re smart, you’ll meet Ronnie Brown, otherwise known as “the gumbo lady.” She’s a big attraction at La Cuisine de Maman (Mama’s Kitchen), a restaurant where her gumbo competes for attention with chicken and Getting Baptized in the Cajun/Creole Culture sausage jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, shrimp etouffee and other temptations.
Dining is in the restaurant’s main room or on a glass-enclosed porch that overlooks Bayou Vermilion. If you time it right, you’ll see a traditionally built bateau glide by with passengers out to explore Bayou Vermilion. A Vermilionville restoration specialist built the boat, and there’s a package ticket that covers a boat ride, lunch and a self-guided tour of the grounds.
Saturdays are especially known for music because of a free Cajun jam session that Vermilionville and the Cajun French Music Association organize. Fiddle and accordion are guaranteed, and there are no amps, no filter, just pure Cajun music from the heart.
Enter the Vermilionville Living History museum as a visitor and you'll come out a Cajun!
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