Seniors Spend Time In St. Landry Parish
St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, with a population that runs around 84,000, is the Zydeco Capital of the World. Senior travelers will find the parish seat, Opelousas, 21 miles north of Lafayette, and 126 miles west of New Orleans.
The Parish was created in 1807. Its history much precedes 1807 as the territory that became St. Landry Parish was inhabited as early as 10,500 B.C. Saint Landry is the patron saint of Opelousas and his feast day is celebrated June 10 of each year.
The Parish is 939 square miles in area and there are 12 municipalities located within the Parish each with its own distinct personality. Senior visitors will see evidence of the French heritage in St. Landry Parish from the visitors guide en français, the signs, newspapers, restaurants menus, and the many surnames of its inhabitants.
Seniors Enjoy an Étouffée
La Table Française are local gatherings that take place throughout the Parish. It presents an opportunity for the locals to share conversation en français over a good cup of café. Having been a teacher of French for over 30 years, I’d like to think that I would fit right in…but with the local acadian accent…maybe not.
Senior travelers, head down to Arnaudville the end of May and take in the 32nd Annual Étouffée Festival. Étouffée is a “smothered” dish and a favorite among locals, enough to stir up some friendly rivalry.
Get a taste of the competition at the Mayor’s Cook-off, which will feature a diverse variety of étouffées including crawfish, seafood, vegetable, and even wild game. Arnaudville is a haven for musicians, artists, and champions of the French language itself. Look up their cultural events on Google.
Seniors Like the Mardi Gras in Eunice
Be sure to sample the Gumbo, a dish that originated in southern Louisiana from the Louisiana Creole people during the 18th century. St. Landry Parish is the site of one of the oldest European settlements in Louisiana, le Poste des Opélousas, an administrative territory established by the French in 1720.
The local cuisine naturally reflects its dramatic history and diverse cultures. It is said that one might best describe the history of St. Landry Parish’s cuisine as that of a cultural gumbo. Blackberry pie would be high on my dining dishes.
Eunice is known as the “Prairie Cajun Capital” and is popular for its annual Mardi Gras celebration. Seniors, spend some time in Eunice visiting the Cajun Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Liberty Theater, a restored 1924 Vaudeville Theatre.
I would not want to overlook Grand Coteau (Big Ridge en français), that is on the National Register of Historic Places, that includes over 70 structures with a wide variety of architectural styles.
Krotz Springs, Leonville, Palmetto and Lebeau…the town list goes on. St. Landry Parish claims a state tourism honor and for good reason. Set your GPS for St. Landry, seniors, and enjoy some great music, Louisiana food and scenery that will be memorable. -jeb