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Aug 1, 2014 7:14 PM by Kari Beal

Lafayette tops nearly 70 lists for food, music, jobs and happiness

You've probably heard the news that Lafayette was recently named the happiest city in the U.S. by the Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch report.

The study was based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention --- as well as certain socioeconomic factors. But it's certainly not the first time the Hub City has found itself at the top of a national list.

In the past decade, Lafayette has ranked in 68 national listings according to the Lafayette Consolidated Government. Some of those include: the largest employment increase from 2011 to 2012. Southern living named Lafayette it's "tastiest town." Lafayette was also named as one of the ten healthiest cities in the U.S.

Grammy award winning zydeco musician Terrance Simien has been around the globe, but said there's no place like home.

"I couldn't see myself living anywhere else because of the culture, the way of live, my family and because of the land itself," Simien said. "All the entertainment you need is just steps outside your doorstep."

So what makes Lafayette such a great place to live? Some say it's the festivals, many of which are free.

"This [free events] contribute to a place where you feel happy. You don't have to have a lot of money to have a good time here," Downtown Lafayette Marketing Spokesperson Katie Durio said.

Lafayette resident Melinda McCullough came to Lafayette from Wisconsin for college. She liked it so much that she stayed here after she graduated. Her favorite part about the area is the food.

"Everyone has a family recipe and it's all about the tradition of it here," McCullough said. "People in Wisconsin don't put that much thought and time into cooking."

More than half of the 68 lists Lafayette has been named to in the last decade are related to economic development.

"We have very strong fundamentals on things like business cost, work force development and so forth," said Jason R. El Koubi, President of the Louisiana Economic Development, Lafayette Chamber. "Over the last few years, we have seen steady economic growth."

Compared to other states across the nation, numbers show, Louisiana has more people born in-state that stay here long-term. Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel said this is what makes the Hub City different from other places.

"What we have in Lafayette isn't artificial; it's authentic because it's rooted in the people. The food and culture are all a result of the people," Durel said.

"People are very, very friendly. You are always going to have a friend in Lafayette. Even if it's a man off the street," UL student Markel Guidry said.

But more than anything, perhaps it's the mindset of the Cajun culture.

"Laissez les bons temps rouler! That's the one baby. Let it roll," Simien said.

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