When you head over to the 2016 Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival on Nov. 5, you may notice a few changes. The festival, which was hosted for many years at Nicholls State University each spring, has been taken over by the Cajun Music Preservation Society and will find its new home at the Bayou Lafourche Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in Raceland.
After seven years of Nicholls State University playing host, the school decided to discontinue its sponsorship amid the recent budget cuts. Fortunately for the popular event, the Cajun Music Preservation Society willingly took over responsibilities, viewing Swamp Stomp as an event which aligned perfectly with their mission to increase the amount of traditional Cajun music available in the Bayou Region.
With a new sponsor comes a few changes to the overall structure of the festival, which once featured a variety of Louisiana-born music styles, cultural demonstrations and more.
“It’s going from a three-day festival to a one-day festival. We are at a different time of a year, a different location, and our budget is starting from scratch,” Dr. Quenton Fontenot, one of the Cajun Music Preservation Society members, says of the revamped festival. “By necessity, we’re keeping the festival small and are going to see what the public reception is. In addition, one of the big changes is that this is now a free festival.”
One of the most obvious things attendees will experience is the music. Over the years, Swamp Stomp has presented swamp pop, zydeco, and traditional Cajun music. However, because swamp pop and zydeco are more readily available in the local area, those types of music will not have a prominent role, instead making room for the Cajun sounds to shine.
“The bands we will have are going to play traditional Cajun music. Even though we love zydeco, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll, that’s not the type of music we’re trying to preserve,” Dr. Fontenot explains. “We feel like traditional Cajun music is not as available in the area, so we want to promote that.”
In addition to the tunes, this would not be a true Cajun festival without good food. Spahrs Seafood, Alumni Grill, The Venetian Food and Spirits, and 12th Street Bakery will all be serving some of their delicious specialties, while Donner-Peltier Distillers and Mudbug Brewery, whose White Boot Blonde Ale is the festival’s official beer, will serve up sips of their signature pours. Cups of Prom Night Fruit Punch, created by Zeb Mayhew, will also be served as the Official Cocktail of Swamp Stomp, which was decided on through a contest open to the public.
If you’re still looking for something to snack on, check out the Swamp Stomp Market, a reimagined version of the food and crafts market from previous years. Here you’ll find everything from jerky, homemade scones, kettle corn, snowballs, spring rolls and eggrolls, as well as handmade wares like kid’s dresses and crawfish paddle guitars.
The overall purpose of the 2016 Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival is to provide the community with the opportunity to watch traditional Cajun music played live in a festival setting. In doing so, the Cajun Music Preservation Society hopes to reach the younger generations and help to make sure this type of music persists in the area. Though traditional Cajun music can be heard all over the place in areas like Lafayette and sprinkled throughout New Orleans, Dr. Fontenot says the genre has been particularly difficult to find here as of late.
“A couple years ago I did a survey of all the big festivals in the Houma, Thibodaux, and Morgan City area, and I could not find one traditional Cajun band that was playing at a festival around here. It used to be common, but for some reason they no longer hire the bands anymore…If you haven’t listened to traditional Cajun music, the best way to listen to it is in a festival setting. People are dancing, there’s food going around, and it’s just a great atmosphere.”
Festival Music Lineup
Balfa Toujours: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Cameron Dupuy & the Cajun Troubadours:1-2:30 p.m
Tee Chaoui Social Club: 3-4:30 p.m.
Lost Bayou Ramblers: 5-7 p.m.