Sarah K Wood, Lafayette Daily Advertiser Published 7:32 p.m. CT April 25, 2019 | Updated 10:33 p.m. CT April 25, 2019
Festival International 2019: Best photos from day 1 Wochit, Wochit
This is the time of year in Lafayette when it’s not uncommon to bump into people from all over the world.
Along Jefferson Street, people from across Louisiana are able to mingle with travelers from faraway places who came here for Festival International de Louisiane.
Two 50-year-old women traveling for 24 days around the United States with a group from France made the stop at Festival on Thursday. Although they speak very little English, they were able to identify themselves as Teresa and Nicole. A friend, they said, referred them, and they came for the chance to see music from authentic international artists.
J. Johnston, 48, is a Lafayette native who has attended every Festival since it’s inception in 1985. He said the diverse range of music is what keeps him coming back.
“There is always something different and exciting to experience,” Johnston said. “What is so great is this festival also boosts our area’s economy and helps raise everyone up.”
James Williams, 58, is a New Orleans native who has lived the past five years in Lafayette. He is a street magician and has come to this year’s Festival to enjoy live music and to perform for anyone looking to be amazed. A group of festival-goers gathered around him Thursday as he juggled and performed tricks, including disappearing acts.
Kay Blanchard, 22, has attended 15 Festival International celebrations. The Breaux Bridge native comes each year to the festival to experience the music, especially tunes with Russian or South African influence. She is most excited for this year’s festival because it is her first serving as a volunteer.
“Festival just has this way of drawing everyone in,” said Blanchard. “I’ve come to this festival for as long as I remember and am so excited to come this year as a volunteer.”
Lenard Earl Johnson, 75, is a New Orleans native and short story writer. He has spent the last year traveling the Amtrack from New Orleans to Lafayette and writing on his experiences and people he meets at leonardearljohnson.blogspot.com.
“I love all the people I run into at Festival International,” said Johnson. “Every year I take turns visiting Festival International or the French Quarter Festival. Festival International is so unique, I love the idea that all of the French colonies gather for this one event.”
Kristina Jones, 34, and Stephen Ostling, 32, traveled all the way from Portland, Oregon, to attend this year’s celebration. It is their first Festival and they are already in love with Acadiana’s delicious food and diversity. Jones and Ostling said they most look forward to listening to authentic Zydeco music.
Sunset native Jean LaCombe, 20, and Lafayette native Ladasha Reece, 21, are best friends who say their favorite aspect of Festival is getting to meet new people.
Laura Westbrook, 29, is a Lafayette native and local henna artist who will have a henna booth set up all weekend for the festival.
“My favorite thing about Festival International is how excited the whole town becomes for this event,” said Westbrook.
Don’t miss a stop by her booth if you want a natural, beautiful henna tattoo.
Matt Nethery, a 38-year-old Rapides Parish law enforcement officer, is an Alexandria native who has lived all over the world. This is his fifth Festival.
“Festival International finds the common roots in all of us,” said Nethery. “People from all over the world gather here and celebrate spring and the joy of life. I come here for the music and to meet new people.”
Are you a festival-goer traveling from out of town to attend this year’s festival? Maybe you’re a veteran of the celebration with a good story to tell. Be a part of this story: take a selfie and email your name, age and where you are traveling from to firstname.lastname@example.org!
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