This spring, as the idea of Dave Trips was conceived, our promo shoot ended up becoming a trip in itself. As we wandered the roads of Vermilion Parish looking for the right place, we found wild blackberries on the side of the road. Later, while eating shrimp poboys, our Marketing Director, Arte Richard exclaimed, “Can you believe we’re getting paid to do this today?”
Traveling in Acadia Parish, I realized why I made Crowley my first Louisiana home. Because the landscape was so familiar to me as a midwesterner.
The first actual trip allowed us to meet Andrew Godley, who took his chemical engineering career and love for beer to become one of the most popular local breweries in Louisiana!
Later we found the magic of the world of Evangeline and how the Bayou Teche formed the lifestyle of Acadians and African Americans. I caught up with my old friend Craig Romero, the director of the Port of Iberia who showed the importance of a local port and the impact it has on Acadiana workers. The fast boat ride to Vermilion Bay was a little lagniappe.
I met the Kidders from St. Landry parish. A family who loves to laugh and meet people at their blueberry farm. And the Cannatella’s who are keeping their family grocery store alive while fattening us up on delicious Muffulettas!
We even took a trip to Alexandria to see Rusty Bethley to create custom-made bowling balls, and I learned my bowling skills were somewhat inferior to a professional, and Peter Bello, my photog.
On the trip to Eunice, we met Paul Marx, who has used his love for local music, to create the flagship of Louisiana radio and makes it his mission to preserve those sounds. And while there, we experienced a bit of the supernatural.
The supernatural also lives on in a Historic hotel in Mamou where New Orleans native Valerie Cahill has her piece of Cajun History. There I heard the music of 100-year-old Willie Durisseau’s fiddle that no one else in the world can play.
And witnessed him enjoying the youngest generations of fiddlers.
I was able to find peace and reflection in the more quiet places of Acadiana. Those who have left us, still inspiring so many people and giving them hope.
Leaders keeping the faith in their communities. Like the Mayor Chuck Robichaux of Rayne Making his town better, cleaner, while respecting the past. New Iberia’s Mayor Freddie Decourt and development director Jane Braud and local architect Paul Allain taking what’s old, and making it new again using tasteful restoration. And Mayor Eugene Foulcard and Tiger Verdin of Franklin realizing how important the arts are to their community, and acknowledging the incredible amount of artistic talent that already exists.
Of course we enjoyed the tastes of Acadiana. Where the success of Jack Miller’s in Ville Platte is a family tradition thanks to Kermit Miller and his wife Sheila keeping the recipe exactly the same. And Matt Lejeune baking his french bread as his family did nearly 135 years ago! You certainly can’t pass up the flavors of Chef Scott McCue’s cuisine at Mr. Lesters Steakhouse, but it was the inspiring story of the bread man, Mr. Robert Lopez who persevered when things got tough and was so appreciative to those who helped him rise up along the way.
I learned a lot about history, the good and the bad, finishing the year knowing there’s beauty all over Acadiana. Simple beauty..even in your own back yard.