Let’s Have A Party Y’all!!!
The breeze off the marina cooled the beaming sun as the patrons entered the venue. Zydeco and the Blues could be heard from the parking lots adjacent to the Long Beach Rainbow Lagoon, welcoming fans to the 31th annual Bayou Festival. Zydeco, the Blues, and great food are synonymous in Louisiana for a great time and this festival did not disappoint.
Spoons, washboard and an accordion are the staples for a zydeco band. Zydeco music is said to have been created by non-enslaved Creoles, light-skinned blacks, or mulattos who formed an aristocratic society in New Orleans during the time of slavery. However, it was the isolated Creoles of the rural prairies of Southwest Louisiana who would later invent zydeco music in the 1940’s. Though disputed, it is commonly suggested that “zydeco” derives from the French phrase Les haricots ne sont pas salés, which, when spoken in the Louisiana Creole French, sounds as “leh-zy-dee-co nuh sohn pah salay”. This literally translates as “the snap beans aren’t salty” but idiomatically as “I have no spicy news for you.” Alternatively the term has been given the meaning “I’m so poor, I can’t afford any salt meat for the beans.” Whatever its origin, it has become popular throughout the world.
The two-day festival showcased zydeco bands on its two stages such as: Dennis G & The Zydeco Trail Riders, Whiteboy James, Mark St Mary’s Louisiana Blues and Zydeco Band, MJ’s Bass Boppers, T-Broussard & The Zydeco High Steppers, Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers, Jumpin Jack Benny Band, Soulicios, Café R & B and The Pine Leaf Boys .During each intermission Zydeco dance lessons were given to willing participants.
First time festival attendees Patricia Carrier-Mills and Alexis Davis of Moreno Valley said although this was their first time attending but it wouldn’t be their last. Patricia Carrier-Mills who is a transplant from Opelousas, Louisiana said it reminded her of home. Both ladies said they enjoyed the relaxed multi-cultural atmosphere, the music and especially the food.
The 3rd stage, noted as the kid’s stage had performances and children’s activities throughout the day. Most notably was a very young Alexis Sharfira who blew the crowd away with her rendition of some of today’s popular songs. There was also a host of activities for the children, such as crawfish and watermelon eating contests, magic workshops, face painting, a reptile show and hula hoop contests.
A Bayou festival wouldn’t be complete without the smells of “down home” cooking. Twenty food vendors were lined up on the south side of the lagoon to entice you with their wares. Gumbo, etoufee, crawfish, alligator, red beans & rice, blackened shrimp and fried fish, beignets, banana pudding and sweet tea to wash it all down with. I thought I was back home in Louisiana for a moment.
The festival was a success judging by the huge crowds and the smiling faces.