Our second day on the Cajun Prairie found us meandering north to the town of Eunice, going through the small towns of Washington and Port Barre. We drove the back roads which we found to be a little rough and narrow. But the route let us get a good glimpse of the countryside away from the highway.
Our base for this stop was the Lakeview RV Park in Eunice. This is probably the nicest campground in the area, but it’s got some serious shortcomings. It’s party central for the locals on the weekends and pretty noisy. The bathhouse facilities could use some serious upgrades. The RV park normally hosts Saturday night barn dances but they were taking a break to recover from Mardi Gras that had just occurred a few days earlier. That didn’t keep some local campers from holding their own parties well into the early morning hours. It was a noisy couple of nights.
Eunice is home to the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, where you can learn about the Cajun culture. They put on daily Cajun music and cooking demonstrations Its also home to the Liberty Theater which hosts a weekly live program called “Rendez-vous Des Cajuns”. This is a Cajun version of the Prairie Home Companion, with music, dancing, and story telling. Its great entertainment. There’s a dance floor in front of the stage and the show is broadcast live over the radio.
On Saturday, we got up early and drove 7 miles up to Mamou to re-experience Fred’s Lounge. I had visited Fred’s back in 2001 while on a bicycle trip through the area. Fred’s is a famous Cajun landmark. It’s a bar that hosts a weekly party every Saturday morning from 8:30 to about noon. It’s not much to look at on the outside but there a great Cajun dance party going on inside. Back home, on a Saturday morning, folks may visit a donut shop or diner to eat breakfast. In Mamou, they’re drinking beer and dancing at Fred’s. Its different on the Cajun Prairie. Here’s a picture and short video clip of what Fred’s is like on a Saturday morning.
On Saturday mornings there’s also an informal music jam session at the Savoy Music Center. Many local musicians show up to play traditional Cajun music. Its free to attend and I’ve heard its good, but I wanted to do Fred’s experience instead.
Saturday we visited the Cajun Music Hall of Fame in Eunice. That night we went to the Liberty Theater for the Rendez-vous des Cajuns show. It was Swamp Pop night with Warren Storm and Willie Tee and Cypress as the head line bands. Warren is called the “Godfather of Swamp Pop”. At 77 yrs young he’s still singing and putting on a great show. It was a fun show and we got more dancing it.
We had a great visit to the Cajun Prairie. I really like this area of the country because it is so different. Its like visiting a different country, but you won’t notice it from the road. You have to get out of your vehicle, visit the local places, eat the local food, and engage with the locals to really experience it.