Film highlights Cajun culture ahead of Cajun Heritage Festival

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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The Cajun Heritage Festival is right around the corner and with it comes an additional activity — the free showing of a movie that shines a light on the need to keep the culture alive.

Roots of Fire, a film by Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi, shows a group of Southwest Louisiana musicians honoring their culture.

The film also shows the discrimination that almost erased the Cajun customs and more.

There will be three showings: 10 .am., noon and 2 p.m. Friday at the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur.

Callie Summerlin, marketing director for Port Arthur Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the film shows young people trying to save a culture.

Summerlin remembers her grandparents speaking only Cajun French and recalls the family get-togethers.

At one time in history Cajuns weren’t allowed to speak their native language in schools in Louisiana and were disciplined when they did.

This led to some of the older generation not passing down the language to their children.

The musicians in the film are working to keep the music alive and save a dying culture, she said.

The tag line for the film is “If you’re not living our culture, you’re killing our culture.”

The film has earned a number of awards.

Cajun Heritage Festival

While the movie will be played at the Museum, the annual Cajun Heritage Fest is set for Saturday at the Lamar State College Port Arthur Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center, with doors opening at 11 a.m. The festival promotes the shared Cajun history of Southeast Texans and Louisianans through music and food, organizers said.

Live musical entertainment is planned from Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin’ Cajuns, Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners, Travis Matte and the Kingpins and Dylan Aucoin and the Judice Ramblers.

Past musicians include Grammy award winners Jo-El Sonnier and Wayne Toups. Music begins at noon, and the dance floor is open all day. There will be a variety of Cajun food vendors, beer and beverages, dance contests, crawfish racing and eating contests and children’s activities.

The event is sponsored by the Southeast Texas Arts Council.

The Cajun experience

There are other ways to celebrate the Cajun heritage.

The Cajun Caravan is from March 31 to April 8 and is a self-guided tour through the area’s Cajun historical markers, restaurants and Cajun-themed events. Organizers are asking participants to stop by Cajun restaurants..

Also on Friday, Clifford Distilling, 235 Procter St. in Port Arthur, is hosting Cajun Eatz food truck and the Humidor Cigar Lounge beginning at 5 p.m. Jude Moreau, local Cajun musician and accordion expert, is providing live music.

The Nederland Chamber of Commerce will be at La Maison Acadienne, 1500 Boston Avenue in Nederland, from 1- 4 p.m. April 2 with a historical reenactment of Acadian life and culture. For ticket prices and more information, go to Ages 12 and under are free.

— Written by Mary Meaux