Sunday, May 1, 2011

International Festival and Cafe Des Amis

Several of us were up at the crack of dawn to head over to Beaux Bridge and Cafe Des Amis. Every Saturday morning they have the "Zydeco Breakfast". The doors open at 7:30 am and the band plays from 8:30 - 11:30. The $5 cover charge is applied to your breakfast tab if you order breakfast. Many locals come here only for the dancing. I was here 2 years ago and I saw many of the same people today as I did then.

We got there at 6:40, yes, that is almost an hour before their doors open. We were second in line, but within 10 minutes the line really started. This is at 7:00 am and you can see the line stretches all the way down the block. Are we crazy or just crazy?

Tom is taking the picture, but we had a table right on the edge of the dance floor. Since you have to be eating to keep the table, we started with Bloody Mary's (some only had virgin Bloody Mary's), which are prepared with their own label hot sauce. Mmmm, good. Served with not only olives, but dilled green beans, they are almost a meal in themselves. Then we ordered beignets ( traditional Louisiana donut), then our breakfast omelets.

I'm standing at the back and taking a picture towards the front. As you can see, it was quite crowded. After the fill the tables they take your name, your $5 cover and give you one of those buzzer buttons to call you when they have a table ready. While you are waiting you can get a drink from the bar, go sit in the sitting area (a couple of couches and coffee table) or watch the dancers.

The band is getting going now. They were good, but different than most zydeco. They started with the guitar player playing the song "Summer Breeze" (the old Seals and Croft song), then the accordian and other instruments came in with their zydeco beat. They also played several waltzes and a few slower songs.

The dance floor is small, but very crowded. Maybe cajun dancing doesn't travel like most country dancing for a reason.

We finally finished our meal and were told that the first round of diners had to give up their tables by 9:15 am anyway, so we stood around and danced for a few more minutes before heading out for more adventures.

The Festival International de Louisiane started on Wednesday and runs through Sunday. It is one of the largest festivals of its kind and Lafayette likes all the money it brings in. People actually come from not only the U.S., but travel from around the world to attend this festival. Many of the musicians are also from around the world. The festival was started some 25 years ago to celebrate all the different countries and cultures which have blended to create the unique Cajun/Acadian culture.

Just like the poster showed we ran into these stiltwalkers on Friday evening. They reminded me of characters you might see at a Cirque de Solieu show.

This statue was in the square and as I went over to see what it was I was amazed, these are girders from the twin towers. They were salvaged from the rubble and have been constructed to be a memorial of that terrible day on Sep 11, 2001.

There were 5 stages set up throughout the downtown area. They blockade the streets for the festival.

They had musicians from Africa, Haiti, which represented the slave influence that blended with the French Acadians which settled this area in the late 1700s. This fusion of music has created the distinctive cajun and zydeco.

Some were very good and enjoyable to listen too, while others I just wandered on past looking for the next stage. Every couple of hours had a new performer so you could wander from stage to stage all day long.

And of course there was dancing.

They also had a large arts and craft show highlighting not only local talent of handmade items, but also items from those same cultures which are represented in this festival. Here are some people making music on these handmade drums from Africa.

Murals have been painted on many of the walls in the downtown area.

No comments: