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Destinations Savor Foreign Flair

Lafayette, Louisiana

With its American Indian, French, Spanish, African, English and Caribbean influences, there are few places in the United States that feel more exotic than Louisiana, and Lafayette is no exception.

Acadian settlers fled the New France colony, which included parts of Nova Scotia, Quebec and Maine, and began arriving in Louisiana between 1765 and 1890.

Two living-history villages that aim to both preserve and re-create early Acadian life are excellent places for groups to sample the area’s foreign influences: Vermillionville and Acadian Village, said Kelly Strenge, vice president of communications for the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission.

At Vermilionville, seven of the homes are original, while others were built to represent the period. The 23-acre park features a performance center that can hold up to 350 people, more when using the connected courtyard, and the venue is perfect for a crawfish boil or “fais-do-do,” a Cajun dance party, Strenge said. Tours are available, and musicians and crafters give performances and demonstrations, she said.

Acadian Village is a similar but smaller attraction. The 10-acre village includes traditional Acadian homes and cottages, a blacksmith’s shop and a chapel. Groups can reserve the Stutes Building — a re-creation of a general store — or the large outdoor pavilion for meetings and banquets.

Even if groups have their meetings at the Cajundome convention center or area hotels, the CVB can incorporate local culture with speakers, musicians, dancers and cooking demonstrations, Strenge said.