Lafayette

May 29, 2013 6:05 PM by MELISSA CANONE

Vermilionville Hosts Free Culture Day in Honor of Creoles

LAFAYETTE, La. - The community is invited to join the Bayou Vermilion District's Vermilionville as they celebrate their annual Creole Culture Day on Sunday, June 9 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. at their historic park. Every year Vermilionville hosts this free event for the public to explore how the Creole community maintains their heritage.

This year's Creole Culture Day will focus on family folklore and the activities planned for the day will include: storytelling, Creole exhibits, cooking demonstrations, kid's games and crafts, sharing circles on Creole music and traditional healing, boat tours and canoeing, music in the Performance Center by Gerard Delafose & The Zydeco Gators as well as Corey & The Zydeco Hot Peppers plus a Creole Jam in the village led by Brandon Ledet. Vermilionville and C.R.E.O.L.E., Inc. are also partnering with United Blood Services to have a blood drive on-site from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Each year for Creole Culture Day Vermilionville and the Catalon Family present a representative of the Creole community with the Richard J. Catalon Sr. Creole Heritage Award in recognition of outstanding lifetime contributions to the preservation of the Creole culture and contributions to the community. This year's recipient is Creole-Zydeco musician Willis Prudhomme, who is celebrated for staying true to the traditional la-la music associated with the Creoles. Past award recipients include: Goldman Thibodeaux, Donald Cravins, Sr., Herbert J. Wiltz, Deborah Clifton, John Broussard, Herman Fuselier, Mary L. Goody and Geno Delafose.

For a timeline of events for this year's Creole Culture Day and more information on Willis Prudhomme see below, visit Vermilionville.org or call (337) 233-4077.
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Willis Prudhomme (interview conducted by Herman Fuselier)
Willis Prudhomme is a lifelong resident of Kinder, Louisiana where he and his 12 siblings-6 boys, 6 girls-were raised in a sharecropping family. Willis, now 81 years young, has worked for the past 57 years as a soybean and rice farmer, which allowed him time to develop a passion for music while working the fields.

Willis has been playing music since his 30s where he would blow on his harmonica while on the tractor working the fields. He started playing professionally with Leo Thomas before forming his own band Zydeco Express. He had a number of hits including "My Woman is a Salty Dog," "Enola's Stepping Out Tonight," "Making Love in the Chicken Coop," "Trying to Love Two" and most notably "Cornbread," which became a huge hit for Beau Jocque, one of his idols.

Willis has been influenced by Cajun music legends Iry LeJune and Nathan Abshire as well as idolizing Zydeco greats Clifton Chenier and Beau Jocque. He spent a lot of time with Nathan Abshire who encouraged him to keep playing when he first began playing.

Willis has brought his zydeco sound all around the world including London, Holland, Quebec and Scotland. One of his most memorable performances was captured in the 1992 Oscar nominated movie filmed extensively in Louisiana, "Passion Fish," starring Mary McDonnell and Alfred Woodard.

Now in his 80s Willis no longer plays music professionally due to his slower reflexes. He is still very active in his community coaching baseball and basketball at Kinder High. When not coaching he spends the rest of his time enjoying his family of four sons and his many grand and great grandchildren.

Timeline of Events
10:00 a.m.
Film: Richard J. Catalon Video (10 - 11 a.m.)
Cooking Demo: Popcorn Balls with Robert Delafosse (10 - 11 a.m.), Open Hearth Cooking with John Lafleur
Exhibit: Clark Field Indians Exhibit, African History in the Attakapas Region (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
Demonstration: Black Pot Curing with Mary Martha Pierre (10 a.m. - 1 p.m.), Traiteurs with Rebecca Henry, Sculpture Based Storytelling with Joseph Lewis and Spoon Dolls and Pine Needle Baskets with Daphney & Cierra Walker (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
Tours: Healer's Garden Tours with the Lafayette Parish Master Gardeners, Maison Broussard Tours with Em & Lili LeMieux (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
Zydeco Zoom Story Time & Dance with Theresa Singleton (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.)

10:30 a.m.
Boat Tour (30 minute tour; $5 per person)

11:00 a.m.
Award Ceremony with Richard J. Catalon Sr. Creole Heritage Award Recipient Willis Prudhomme (11 a.m. - 12 p.m.)
25th Anniversary of C.R.E.O.L.E. Inc (11:50 a.m. - 12 p.m.)
Activities: Rag Dolls, Creole Flag Kits, Games, Creole Language Worksheet and Canoeing (11 a.m. - 3 p.m.)

11:30 a.m.
Cooking Demo: Popcorn Balls with Robert Delafosse (11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.)
Boat Tour (30 minute tour; $5 per person)

12:00 p.m.
Sharing Circle: Traiteurs/Traditional Healing with Rebecca Henry & Margaret Guidry with moderator
Dr. Ray Brassieur (12 - 1 p.m.)
Music: Gerard Delafosse & The Zydeco Gators (12 - 2 p.m.), Creole Jam Session with Brandon Ledet and Willis Prudhomme (12 - 4 p.m.)
Film: Remembering Creole (12 - 1 p.m.)

1:00 p.m.
Cooking Demo: Shrimp & Grits with Carolyn Shelton (2:30 - 3:30 p.m.)
Storytelling with Lloyd Foote (1 - 5 p.m.)

1:30 p.m.
Boat Tour (30 minute tour; $5 per person)

2:30 p.m.
Dance Lesson (2:30 - 3 p.m.)
Cooking Demo: Shrimp & Grits with Carolyn Shelton (2:30 - 3:30 p.m.)
Boat Tour (30 minute tour; $5 per person)

3:00 p.m.
Sharing Circle: Music with D'Jalma Garnier, John Broussard, Joe Hall, Greg Potier, Paul Scotts with moderator Dr. Ray Brassieur (3 - 4 p.m.)
Music: Corey Arceneaux & The Zydeco Hot Peppers (3 - 5 p.m.)

3:30 p.m.
Boat Tour (30 minute tour; $5 per person)

4:00 p.m.
Film: Remembering Creole (4 - 5 p.m.)

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