Festivals Acadiens: a little sweat and lots of Cajun culture

A hearty Cajun welcome to our visitors to the 43rd annual Festivals Acadiens et Creoles. Girard Park in Lafayette will be buzzing with Cajun music and culture this weekend. Plenty of dancing, tasty cuisine, and loads of Cajun camaraderie. It defines who we are, and our many guests only make it better.

Plenty of sweating, too, will take place at the Festival. Yes, even in mid-October, temperatures hover around 90 degrees. Throw in the humidity, and plenty of folks doing the Cajun two-step will have sweat on their faces, along with Cajun-culture-inspired beatific smiles on their faces.

We Cajuns are used to the year-round heat and humidity, but I believe we’re still one of the happiest, most celebratory regions in the U.S., despite the weather. I believe our Cajun culture is imbued with the same tough-minded, rugged individualism that the region’s ancestors brought from Novia Scotia – French descendants exiled from Novia Scotia – in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Cajuns are resourceful, resilient, and ingenious in all their endeavors. There’s no challenge we can’t overcome. “Joie de Vivre” means we enjoy life with an exalted spirit, and on the flip side of the coin, Cajuns work just as hard as they play.

Weather never dampens the spirit of our Cajun culture. We live with and adapt to weather conditions here in Cajun Country, but weather throughout our vast and expansive country is an interesting phenomenon when compared with our south Louisiana sauna.

For example, the average temperature through 12 months of the year in San Francisco is 64 degrees. Here in Lafayette, our average temperature through 12 months is 79 degrees. How about rainfall in various regions of the U.S.? We regularly hear that Seattle is frequently cloudy and they get lots of annual rainfall. Seattle averages 37 inches of rain each year. In San Francisco, 800 miles south of Seattle, average annual rainfall is only 24 inches. Here in Lafayette, we average 64 inches of annual rainfall.

Have you ever wondered why during the hot months, the temperature differential from daytime to nighttime is only 10 degrees in south Louisiana? In drier regions like Arizona, day-to-night temperature swings of 50-60 degrees are common. The reason south Louisiana has limited temperature differentials from day-to-night is water vapor, which retains the heat of the day much more so than in arid parts of the country.

Truly cold days during the winter here in Cajun Country happen only when we feel the remnants of a strong Canadian or Arctic front filtering down to the Bayou State. So we Cajuns live with heat and humidity for most of the year. I guess you could say our entire culture is simmering in a huge gumbo pot.

Enjoy Festivals Acadiens this weekend. Celebrate the Acadians who gave us the unique culture of Acadiana. We sure know how to adapt to our environment and make the best of everything the good Lord gave us. Give us heat and we’ll cook up something spicy, delicious, and unique, all while we and our guests enjoy some of the most unique music and hospitality to be had on planet Earth. Hope for milder temperatures and lower humidity this weekend . . . . but let the party begin.

-Mark Pope