Eunice is the
location of the National Park Service's Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, one of four sites
in the Acadian Unit of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The park
seeks to illustrate the influences that the many cultures have had on the region's history
and development. Other sites in the Acadian Unit are located in Lafayette, Thibodaux, and
Charenton. The park also has three other units. The Barataria Preserve Unit near Marrero
interprets the natural and cultural history of the swamp and marshlands. Six miles
southeast of New Orleans is the Chalmette Unit, site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.
Near the French Market in the historic French Quarter is the visitor center for the New
Orleans Unit, where the headquarters is located: Jean
Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, 365 Canal Street, Suite 3080, New
Orleans, LA 70130-1142; phone (504) 589-3882, ext. 103.
||The Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice is open daily, 8 a.m.
to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. On Saturday, the center is open until 6 p.m. It is
closed on Sundays and Mondays. There is no admission fee. Donations are accepted. Call
(337) 457-8490 for further information.
The Prairie Acadian Cultural Center is located at 250 West Park Ave.
in downtown Eunice (near the municipal complex). The exhibition rooms at the center tell
the story of the Cajun people through exhibits of various cultural artifacts and through
striking photographs. An auditorium is used for musical performances by Cajun bands and musicians,
as well as for video and film presentations. The Park Service's video Echoes of Acadie
tells the story of the Cajun people and their fascinating history. Demonstrations of
spinning and weaving, instrument making, and other local crafts take place in another room
down the hall. There is also a demonstration kitchen, where visitors can see local food
specialties being prepared--and perhaps also get a chance to sample a bite.
Demonstrations are scheduled on Saturdays:
3:00 p.m. - Interpretive Music Program
4:00 p.m. - Cooking Demonstration
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. - Quilting Demonstration
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. - Cotton Spinning Demonstration
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. - Liberty Theatre Performance
The Prairie Acadian Cultural Center also sponsors special
educational programs organized with schools from throughout the region. It is also the
site of free educational programs on Cajun dance, music, and language sponsored by the
Cajun French Music Association and the Louisiana Cajun Culture and Music Club.
Center for the Performing Arts
Dr. Barry Jean
Ancelet, professor and head of the Foreign Languages Department at the University of
Louisiana at Lafayette, has been hosting the Liberty show since it began in 1987. The
leading authority on Cajun music, he chats with musicians and entertains the audience with
jokes and humorous observations, all in Cajun French.
Click here for photos of the
NBC Today Show 2007.
The Liberty Theatre represents a remarkable collaborative effort
between the Park Service and the City of Eunice. In 1986, a group
of concerned townspeople joined forces to restore the 50-year-old
Liberty Theatre. Beginning July 11, 1987, and every Saturday evening
since, the Liberty has been the site of a two-hour live radio program,
"Rendez vous des Cajuns," featuring Cajun and Zydeco bands,
single musical acts, and Cajun humorists.
musicians performing at the Liberty are featured as part of LSUE's pages on Contemporary Cajun, Creole, and
Click here for photos of the celebration of
the 900th show and the 1,000th
|People from throughout the region come to dance, listen to top
bands, and just have a good time. The crowd also includes many tourists from around the
United States and from overseas. Visitors from outside the area quickly catch the spirit
of joie de vivre, and some join in with the dancers on the wooden floor in front of the
stage. A large auditorium accommodates about 525 people. Dr. Barry Ancelet, a folklorist
at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, serves as the host. Speaking in French but
switching to English occasionally, he is both entertaining and educational as he talks to
the musicians and discusses various aspects of the area's culture. Admission is a $5
donation; children (ages 7-12), $3; children 6 and under, free.
Note: The Northwestern State University folklife pages
have more information on two of the musicians pictured above,
Nonc Allie Young and Hadley
Bois Sec Ardoin
The Liberty also hosts special programs from time to time. On March
21, 1998, Bois Sec Ardoin (1915-2007) and the Ardoin Family Band and Michael Doucet and his band
BeauSoleil performed a tribute to the legendary black creole accordionist Amédé Ardoin
(1898-1941) and the Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee (1893-1989). Amédé Ardoin's birthdate was
only recently discovered (March 11).
Ardoin is a central influence on the development of Cajun music. He
and McGee, another legendary musician, played together starting in the early 1930s.
BeauSoleil's Grammy-winning CD includes versions of two Ardoin songs: "Eunice
Two-Step" and "Les Blues de la Prison." Amédé Ardoin died alone in
the Pineville Mental Hospital. Researchers are still trying to find where he is buried.
McGee was widely recognized in his later years as a Cajun musician
who played in the style of musicians before the influence of radio. Michael Doucet used to
visit him frequently in Eunice.
Descendants of Ardoin and McGee were honored during the
The Official City of Eunice web
site has schedules listing the bands and performers who have been
booked to appear at the Liberty.
The program is now broadcast live on
public radio in Lafayette and Lake Charles.
Return to Central Acadiana
Gateway Main Page
Updated June 2002.
These pages were established and maintained by
David Simpson, who retired from LSUE in