Louisiana Folk Roots returns to parish for Le Grand Hoorah
By: RAYMOND PARTSCH III
Louisiana Folk Roots is returning to its roots.
The non-profit organization is teaming up with fellow non-profit Prairie Heritage Inc. to help put on the Third Annual Le Grand Hoorah at Chicot State Park this Friday and Saturday. The two-day “party with a purpose” kicks off Friday with a special opening jam session at 5:30 p.m.
Louisiana Folk Roots has long presented the popular Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week, which is a cultural event that blends food, history, language, dancing and of course music. That event was first held in April 2001 at Lake Fausee Point (outside of St. Martinville), and was started by the famed fiddler and cultural ambassador’s daughter, Christine Balfa Powell.
In 2005, the week of celebration came to Chicot State Park and it was held there until it was moved to the Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park in Lafayette in 2014.
Even though that week-long event isn’t returning to Chicot State Park, the non-profit associated with it is.
“We are really excited about coming back to the Ville Platte area,” said La. Folk Roots Executive Director Glenn Fields, a Grammy-nominated drummer for the Red Stick Ramblers and the Revelers. “Mr. Winky Aucion approached us about helping out this year and we were super excited to return to the community. Having the Creole Heritage Week leave Ville Platte and Evangeline Parish, left a hole in the community there and I feel like it left a hole in La. Folk Roots as well. We are excited to return home.”
Aucion, who served as President of the La. Folk Roots Board of Directors before leaving to start Le Grand Hoorah in 2015, is excited that La. Folk Roots is once again returning to Chicot State Park.
“I feel like the programming is once again very good and culturally firm this year,” Aucoin said. “I think with Louisiana Folk Roots coming on board and serving as a co-presenter, that it will be as good or even better than it was the past few years.”
This year’s Le Grand Hoorah will feature several notable Cajun French musicians such as Bonsoir Catin, Horace Trahan and The Ossun Express, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys and Geno Delafosse & French Rockin Boogie, who will be receiving a special tribute during the event.
In addition, the Brazos School of Music will perform, there will be multiple jam sessions, there will be plenty of Cochon-de-lait cooking, and New Orleans native Poppy Tooker will share her method of making calas (rice fritters).
“All of these people, these groups that are performing, are all seasoned musicians,” Aucoin said. “These are people that are really our friends. They have been in their own way promoting our culture all over the world. We are just giving them a chance to come home and reenergize.”
The event also gives people from around the country the opportunity to experience Cajun and Creole heritage in an authentic Louisiana setting.
“This is a great chance for people outside of the community, say travelers from Minnesota to come here and make a connection with someone from Ville Platte. To then go on and share the culture with others.
“This is our chance to take care of and celebrate our part of the world, as only we can,” Fields added. “If we don’t do these things nobody else is gong to do it for us.”
What is the possibility that this reunited partnership could bring back the Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week to Evangeline Parish? As of right now nothing is planned but that doesn’t mean that it is out of the question moving forward.
“Right now we are helping to facilitate the Le Grand Hoorah in 2017 but we are looking forward to the future,” Fields said. “This is a great excuse to get our foot back in the door in the parish.”