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August 19, 2009 > Hot music and spicy food rule at Cajun Zydeco Festival

Hot music and spicy food rule at Cajun Zydeco Festival

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By Courtesy of East Bay Park District

If on August 22, you awaken in a lively mood, head over to Ardenwood Historic Farm for the 13th Annual Cajun Zydeco Festival. "Shine your boots and tell your friends," encourages Shelly Lewis, spokesperson for the East Bay Park District. Delight in the rhythms of traditional music, vivacious dancing, and tempting aromas of Cajun and Creole food.

This celebration, changed from September to August, is all the rage; over 3000 attended in 2008. Dancing and more dancing is the highlight of the day. So grab your dance shoes and come on over. The dance floor, covered by a tent, gives a respite from the anticipated hot weather.

Southern Louisiana musical traditions have moved beyond Louisiana to the west coast. Featured performers from the "sportsman's paradise" state are the Acadian Cajun Band, Dwight "Black Cat" Carrier, the Ro Doggs and Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble. Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic, a popular local group, represents the Bay Area.

Cajun music originated with Acadian French immigrants. Originally fiddles were the only instruments and singing was done in a unique French dialect. This has evolved; some bands sing in English and accordions are played. Another evolution is the genre of Zydeco. Blues and R & B was added to French Creole music from rural Louisiana. Performer Charles Chenier is credited with this new style. Instruments other than fiddles and accordions can include guitars, basses, drums and washboards.

Here is a bit of musical trivia. Zydeco derived from the phrase, "Les haricots sont pas sales," which translates to "The snap beans are not salty."

Cajun food at the festival will be plentiful including jambalaya, gumbo, hush puppies, fried catfish, and the ever-popular Cajun fries. Sweet potato and pecan pies are available for those with a sweet tooth. Soft-serve ice cream and root beer floats will especially appeal to the younger set. Soft drinks, beer and wine will be for sale within the park. Visitors may bring in their own picnic food excluding any alcohol purchased outside if they wish,

Intersperse this spirited day by watching the harvest of organic produce from surrounding fields, viewing farm animals, and visiting the historic Patterson House. Children will enjoy face painting provided by the park staff as well as dance lessons.

Check out the wares of specialty vendors. Goods include event t-shirts and hats listing the bands. Jams and jellies, caps, jewelry, clothing, and purses are among the handcrafted items. Customarily, bands have CDs available for purchase.

Drive to the gates of this fantastic and fun festival, then for rail fans, hitch a ride on the Ardenwood Railway to the celebration. Blankets, low-back lawn chairs, sun block and hats are welcome paraphernalia.

Keep in mind all proceeds benefit the Park Express Transportation Program. Sponsored by the East Bay Park District, this program provides low-cost transportation to east bay parks, for low-income school students and disabled people.

Shelly Lewis says, "This event is a blast!" Those who have attended the Cajun Zydeco Festival before need no urging to come back. For others, this new adventure will become a tradition. For everyone, it will be "bon temps!"

Cajun Zydeco Festival
Saturday, August 22
Gates open 10 a.m.
Music 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 796-0663

$20 for adults (16+ years)
$3.00 for children (4 - 15 years)
Children 3 and younger - Free

No pets
No outside alcohol

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