Many people in Cajun country are prone to have a party "at
the drop of a hat". Any get-together at home with a few
friends, night on the town with a larger group, or a full
blown festival involving thousands of people are all greeted
Nearly every village, town, and city of any
size has a yearly festival, celebrating an important part
of the local economy. Examples are the Duck Festival in Gueydan,
The Rice Festival in Crowley, the Sugarcane festival in New
Iberia, and the Zydeco Festival in Opelousas.
Festival in Breaux Bridge and Festival Internationale in Lafayette
are two of the most popular festivals, and attract visitors
from around the world. Smaller local festivals are very popular,
and are produced with great fanfare. The majority of festivals
include a "fais-do-do" or street dance, usually
to a live local band. Crowds at these festivals can range
from a few hundred to over 100,000.
Mardi Gras underscores the Cajun
belief system. The Catholic church figures heavily in planning
almost everything and many of the traditions of Acadiana are
based on the church calendar.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning
of Lent in the Catholic church, a 40 day period of fasting
and reflection which ends Easter Sunday.
So Mardi Gras is the last chance
to have a huge party.
The traditional "fat Tuesday" celebration in the
rural areas of Acadiana is nothing like the debauchery and
craziness that typifies New Orleans and other metropolitan
celebrations. It centers around the courir (translated: run).
A group of people, usually on horseback, will approach a farmhouse
and ask for something for the community gumbo pot. Often,
the farmer or his wife will allow the riders to have a chicken,
if they can catch it.
The group then puts on a show, comically
attempting to catch the chicken set out in a large open area.
Songs are sung, jokes are told, and little skits are acted
out. When and if the chicken is caught, it is duly added to
the pot at the end of the day.