Through Lead LA, LSU offered to its students a chance to travel far and wide to distinct cultural areas of Louisiana. I was able to travel to Larose, LA, where every year the French Food Festival takes place. 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the festival. I was so happy to see elements of my hometown and ethnic culture applied towards an annually successful festival. From meat pies to boudin balls to a spicy fiddler and her band, the French Food Festival does a great job at capturing the Cajun and Creole heritage, traditions, foods, and culture of Louisiana.
What does it take to cultivate and condense the rich LA culture into one small civic center–the only community establishment for social extravaganzas in Larose? Just how is this French Food Festival managed and executed? I did a little research to find out.
From the close of the previous festival, planning for the next one begins. Throughout the year and leading up to mid-October, funds are raised in Larose to hire the band (Amanda Shaw), security, carnival rides, and to rent the Civic Center. All the food is made by private families and sold in booths under a 1.2 million dollar pavilion at the festival. (All the money used to build the new pavilion designed specifically for the French Food Festival was donated! This shows the support for the Cajun culture is quite strong in Larose.) Workers at each food booth are family members and business persons of the food being sold at the booth. Though selling the food is profitable, each booth does pay a fee to have a booth. As for drawing people to come to the event, not much work is needed. Director of the Festival said that “each year, the festival is highly anticipated by the residents of Larose and surrounding cities. People just love to come and celebrate the music, the food, and the culture that really embodies Louisiana. They are proud of who they are and where they come from.”
I will add that after half a semester at LSU (I am a freshman) and half a semester of Baton Rouge food and typical overrated chain restaurants, the food down in Larose really hit home for me. Even though it was only a few hours, I am so thankful that I was given the chance to turn down what is bland and to savor the culture of Louisiana down in Cajun Land!
Geaux Tigers and Geaux Cajuns!