Festival International is like guacamole. You either really like it or it's just not your thing. We can honor and respect both schools of thought. But for those who do love Festival International which returns to Lafayette following a two-year hiatus due to COVID the joy and excitement are palpable. You can literally feel the energy building around town.

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Paul Kieu
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If you ask a dozen different people what they love about Festival International you are likely to get a dozen different answers. The music and the food naturally rank high on the lists of the reasons "we love Fesitval" but for me, the only reason to go downtown is to do some serious people-watching.

Louisiana's fairs and festivals make for great observational moments and Festival International seems to bring out the most creative forms of self-expression I have ever seen. The hairstyles are unique and colorful. The clothing is often eloquent, flowing, and sometimes not enough to cover the parts of the body that need to be covered. And, then there are the body parts and the decorations inserted, attached, or applied that can capture attention as well.

Larry Richardson via YouTube
Larry Richardson via YouTube
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As someone who has found himself working more closely with some of the musical acts appearing at this year's Welcome Back Edition of Festival International, I have gotten a sneak peek into some of the things that might create a stir in Lafayette's Downtown area this weekend.  What you see below just might.

Pa Vikingtog via YouTube
Pa Vikingtog via YouTube
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Just yesterday, I spoke to a woman who identified herself as Patchouli. I am assuming she spells her name the same way as the plant and the oil. Patchouli was wearing a beautiful rainbow sundress when we spoke and when she raised her arm, I notice her armpits had been decorated.

Not only were the hairs of her armpits decorated with beads and charms but it looked as if they had been braided. Patchouli informed me, that they were in fact intertwined in a very artistic way. I was impressed. Not impressed enough to find a "hairstylist" to decorate and tame my unruly armpit hair but still, the fact that somebody thought to decorate that space was "interesting".

Patchouli, the person and not the oil, declined my request for a photograph. She mentioned something about photographs stealing a "tiny piece of our soul" with every click. I don't disagree with that and I don't disagree with armpit braiding either. I wouldn't do it but I support your right to that kind of self-expression. I will support it more if you wear deodorant too, but that's mainly for the guys.

And yes, it's a guy thing too.

Strickland Family via YouTube
Strickland Family via YouTube
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Frankly, I am glad the Higher Power that made us decided to keep nose hair and ear hair to a minimum because I think we might all be shocked and what kind of accessories might be presented at fairs and festivals if those follicles were allowed to grow free and untamed. Just like the spirit that embodies Festival International. I for one, hope it always remains free, untamed, and full of the kind of self-expression that only the joy of sharing music with others can create.

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