Louisiana Swamp Festival 2012

Horse Racing 101When you think of Louisiana, what images come to mind? Cypress trees festooned with Spanish moss draped lazily over a slow-moving bayou? Fearsome-looking alligators lying in the shade along the banks of a muddy waterway? Lively Cajun fiddlers and accordionists playing their melodic instruments and singing sweet love ballads in the French idiom?

If you answered “all of the above” you would have all the elements and more of the Louisiana Swamp Festival held annually at the world-renowned Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. The Louisiana Swamp Festival, or Swamp Fest for short, is being held over the weekend of November 3-4. The festival features Cajun food, music, crafts and other unique contributions introduced by the state’s earliest settlers and carried on for many generations right up to the present.

With more square miles of wetlands than any other state in the Union, Louisiana and its centuries-old culture have revolved around the swamps and bayous ever since the first French and Cajun settlers arrived in the 1700s. And, in a state that hosts more festivals than any other, it should surprise no one to learn that there is a festival celebrating the swamp culture that evolved here.

At this year’s Swamp Fest you will see your favorite swamp critters, especially alligators, some of which have grown to over 10-12 feet in length. You’ll get to chow down on popular Cajun food delicacies like jambalaya, gumbo, fried alligator, boudin, crab cakes with crawfish sauce, catfish po-boys, crawfish bread, cracklins (fried pork skins) and much more from some of the best New Orleans restaurants and caterers in Southern Louisiana.

And, of course, no New Orleans festival would be complete without a healthy helping of Louisiana Cajun music and its hybrid offspring, Zydeco. Some of the top performers in the Cajun and Zydeco genres will perform for your entertainment and, if you don’t know how to already, experienced dance instructors will teach you the “Cajun Two-Step.” Here is this year’s schedule of performers:

Saturday, November 3
Capital One Stage
•10:25am – 11:45am – Lafayette Rhythm Devils
•12:05pm – 1:25pm – Swamp Fiddler Tribute feat. Sarah Jayde Williams
•1:45pm – 3:05pm – Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience
•3:25pm – 4:45pm – Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers

Louisiana Swamp Exhibit
•12:00pm – 1:15pm – Lafourche Cajun Band
•1:30pm – 2:15pm – Cajun Music Petting Zoo
•2:15pm – 4:00pm – Lafourche Cajun Band

Sunday, November 4
Capital One Stage
•10:25am – 11:45am – Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band
•12:05pm – 1:25pm – Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie
•1:45pm – 3:05pm – BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet
•3:25pm – 4:45pm – Sunpie & The Louisiana Sunpots

Louisiana Swamp Exhibit
•12:00pm – 1:15pm – Tour Les Soirs
•1:30pm – 2:15pm – Cajun Music Petting Zoo
•2:15pm – 4:00pm – Tour Les Soirs

Cajun and Zydeco dance lessons are given on the following dates and times:
11:30am – 12:00pm – Cajun Dance Lessons (Swamp Exhibit)
1:25pm – 1:45pm – Zydeco Dance Lessons (Capital One Stage)

11:30am – 12:00pm – Cajun Dance Lessons (Swamp Exhibit)
11:45am – 12:05pm – Zydeco Dance Lessons (Capital One Stage)

In addition to being renowned for its food and music, Cajun culture also abounds in artistic creativity. Genuine Louisiana arts and crafts will be sold throughout the Zoo with a showcase of cypress wood furniture, one-of-a-kind Louisiana paintings, woven cypress baskets, colorful and realistic-looking duck carvings and more. This is your chance to bring home a piece of Louisiana’s heritage with one or more of these unique Cajun creations.

At the Louisiana Swamp Festival you can learn more about the Cajun culture with special animal feedings and hands-on encounters, in addition to pirogue-building and wildfowl carving presentations in the zoo’s award-winning Louisiana Swamp Exhibit. Cajun storytellers will regale you with eerie tales of the Loup Garou, the werewolf of the swamps, and other legends and myths that have been handed down for hundreds of years.

Contact the Audubon Zoo for more information.