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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Fun and games for meetings in the Southeast

Courtesy Gulf Shores CVB

Get down on the bayou
It’s hard to visit Louisiana without tasting Cajun and Creole culture, whether it’s the lilt of a Cajun-French accent or a spicy dish made with rice, local vegetables and game.

In Lafayette Parish, home of a large francophone population, visitors are steeped in Cajun and Creole tradition at the Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park.

Representing life from 1765 to 1890, the re-created village preserves the region’s Acadian, Creole and Native American cultures. The backdrop is the Bayou Vermilion District. The bayou’s name comes from its water’s red tint.

Vermilionville offers a fun offsite experience. Groups head there to hear Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music and dancing.

“There’s always a musician onsite, usually a fiddler or accordion player,” said Jesse Guidry, public relations coordinator for the Bayou Vermilion District.

A free Cajun jam is held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays at the visitors center; there’s a Sunday dance from 1 to 4:00 p.m. Regular concerts are held at the facility’s performance center.

Groups can arrange special sessions to learn the two-step or the waltz, the area’s signature dances. Chevron and other corporations have had cooking lessons during their meetings.

“They learn how to make jambalaya or beignets,” Guidry said.

The 23-acre site’s restaurant, La Cuisine de Maman, welcomes catered events so planners can add a meal to the outing, either in the restaurant, outside or in the performance center, which holds 300 people.

Randol’s Restaurant and Cajun Dance Hall, also in Lafayette, lacks the village and the artisans but offers the same authentic toe-tapping experience as Vermilionville. A band performs every night.

Lafayette, meanwhile, attracts regional and national meetings to its 13,500-seat Cajundome, which, in 2002, added 37,301 square feet of exhibit space. Clearly, you needn’t be in New Orleans to let the good times roll.