Thu November 21, 2013
Blackpot Festival Mixes Celebration And Cultural Preservation
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 1:04 am
Acadiana, like most of Louisiana south of I-10, is a mix of the ancient and the brand-new. And while the march of time, and the disappearing coast, threaten to change everything, some young people are using music and food to keep traditions alive.
The Blackpot Music Festival and Gumbo Cookoff has quietly built up a national and international reputation as a must-see stop on the circuit of traditional music festivals, and now draws over two thousand people to the Acadian Village each year.
As the reputation of the festival has grown, the breadth of the attendees has as well — they’re not just local people in the know, but young musicians from all over, drawn to the experience of camping out in tents for two nights so they can jam together, swap traditional songs, and knock back a few before the next set.
“Especially this type of music, bluegrass and old-time music, is very traditional,” she says. “They welcome anyone to come sit in and play. And that’s what the whole festival is about.”
The Red Stick Ramblers — a traditional Cajun, jazz and Western Swing band — started the festival on a dare from Jay Ungar, says fiddle player and festival organizer Daniel Coolik. There are hundreds of festivals in Louisiana, for everything from Shrimp and Petroleum to Frogs to Rice, but there wasn’t anything for the Blackpot, the traditional cast-iron cooking vessel central to the Acadian experience, used to cook just about anything and everything.
“The Red Stick Ramblers go to a lot of fiddlers’ conventions, and there’s a tradition of these fiddlers’ conventions in North Carolina and Virginia and stuff like that, where people just kind of go and camp, and they hand out and play tunes and trade tunes,” he says. “I don’t think there was really that tradition in this area in Louisiana. It’s mostly a camping festival, and so there’s a lot of people in their tents and their campgrounds, and people just kind of jam and play tunes and play old-time music, play country music, play Cajun music… play whatever and kind of meet new friends and play tunes.”
And cook plenty of food. Blake Thibodaux and Justin Leget had a black pot going the whole weekend, but they didn’t join in the contest — over a dozen entrants doling out free gumbo and red beans in order to capture the best gumbo title.
Food and Drink