The name Mamou is recognized around the world as synonymous with Cajun culture. Celebrated
in songs like "Grand Mamou," this small town located in Evangeline Parish about
10 miles north of Eunice attracts visitors from many different countries who come not only
to take part in special events like Mardi Gras but simply to stop by one small bar that
has had a central role in the growing international interest in Cajun culture.
| Governor Foster is shown in the camouflage cap
moving through the crowd in front of Fred's.
|On November 16, 1996, Fred's Lounge in Mamou
celebrated its 50th anniversary with the unveiling of a plaque by Louisiana Governor Mike
Foster in a ceremony in which all of the town's officials participated. The plaque's
inscription reads, "In memory of Alfred 'Fred' Tate, 11/20/12-7/15/92. November 20,
1946: Fred purchased Tate's Bar, now known as Famous Fred's Lounge, Mamou, LA. In 1950
Courir de Mardi Gras was revived at Fred's Lounge. June 1962: The late Revon Reed began a
remote radio program at Fred's Lounge which is still alive today (KVPI 1050 AM) radio
station. French Renaissance (Cajun Music, Language and Culture) after World War II
originated at Fred's Lounge."
The musicians who performed
on that program (in earlier years broadcast on KEUN radio in Eunice) are legendary--groups
like the Mamou Cajun Band with Sady Courville, Hilbert Dies, Ambrose
Thibodeaux, and Preston Manuel. Today the same music continues with
various great Cajun bands like Don Fontenot and Les Amis de la Louisiane
and the Dixie Club Ramblers. Whichever Saturday you decide to visit, you are guaranteed
to hear great traditional Cajun music. Fred's is open at additional
times during Mardi Gras.
|Pictured immediately above is the crowd during Governor
Foster's visit in 1996. The other picture was taken July 29, 2000, when Jamie Berzas and
his band, including Mark Young on vocals, played to a crowd that included visitors from
far away and regulars from Mamou. That's Tante Sue dancing on the left. The plaque
commemorating the 50th anniversary is also shown.
||Fred's is open only on Saturdays, 8 a.m.to 2 p.m. The music starts
about 9 a.m., with the radio broadcast over KVPI in Ville Platte starting at 9:15 and
continuing until 11:15. The band finishes by about 1:30 p.m. Although the Tate family sold
the establishment in December 1996, Tate's former wife, Sue Vasseur, known as Tante Sue de
Mamou, continues as manager. Fred's Lounge may
have become a shrine for Cajun culture, but that fact does not at all interfere with the
joie de vivre experienced by the patrons. Or, as one visitor commented , "Can you
think of another place in the United States or the world where it's 9 in the morning and
you can have this much fun?"
Mamou bills itself as "The Cajun Music Capital of the
World." Mamou musicians, in particular the musicians who have performed at
Fred's, have been a major force in expanding the audience for Cajun music far beyond
|Actor Dennis Quaid, who first visited Mamou while in Louisiana for
the filming of The Big Easy, is shown watching the Mamou Cajun Christmas
Parade standing next to Tante Sue December 8, 2001. The parade featured live
Cajun and Zydeco bands on floats. Shown above from the 2000 parade is Geno Delafose and
French Rockin' Boogie. His mother, JoAnn Delafose, is tossing candy to the crowd.
Click here for photos of the 2002
parade and the 2003 parade.
||Courir de Mardi Gras. Of all of the rural courirs, Mamou's
Courir de Mardi Gras has attracted the most attention, perhaps because the organizers have
been so insistent on preserving the old traditions and customs. In addition to the courir,
there's a big street dance Monday
evening. For more information go to the Mamou Mardi Gras page.
Mamou is not just a great tourist destination. It's
also a great place to live. Mamou was awarded first place in the category of Community
Development for Louisiana towns its size based on improvements in recreational
facilities. The town has added lighting and pressboxes to ballparks and made similar
improvements to tennis and volleyball courts and to other facilities.
How did the name Mamou originate? Mamou was founded when C.C. Duson
in 1907 developed the town site and began selling lots. In 1911, Mamou was incorporated.
The name derives from the Mamou Prairie, where the town is located, but how did the
prairie get its name? One version is that Mamou is an Indian name meaning "Big
Hunting Ground." After offering several other possible explanations, Revon Reed in
his book Lache Pas La Patate gives this fanciful account: When the prairie was
first settled by Europeans, they brought their animals, including herds of cattle. Mother
cows with their calves were everywhere on the prairie. "Maa," the calves would
call out. "Moo," the mother cows would respond.
"Maa." "Moo." "Maa-Moo" et poof!
Voilà, la naissance de Mamou. Éclatante, non?
For more information about the origins of Mamou's name, Mardi Gras
in Mamou, the history of Evangeline Parish, and a myriad of other interesting facts and
opinions, visit the home page of Mamou's legendary Cajun writer and historian, Pascal Fuselier. Pascal
Fuselier died in 2002.
For information about activities in Mamou, contact the Town of
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Updated March 2009
These pages were established and maintained by
David Simpson, who retired from LSUE in