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.

The Liberty Center for the Performing Arts

Ancelet.gif (3910 bytes)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. 

Many musicians performing at the Liberty are featured as part of LSUE's pages on Contemporary Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians.

Click here for photos of the celebration of the 900th show and the 1,000th show.

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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 Castille.

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Bois Sec Ardoin

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Michael Doucet


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 performance.

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 KRVS 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 2009.