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August 17, 2010 > Cajun/Zydeco Festival spices up summer

Cajun/Zydeco Festival spices up summer

By Julie Grabowski
Photos By Hillary Van Austen

The spice and sizzle of southern Louisiana comes to Fremont with the 14th Annual Cajun/Zydeco Festival Saturday, August 21. Presented by East Bay Regional Park District, the festival is an opportunity to break out blankets and lawn chairs, hats and sunscreen, and enjoy great music, food, dancing, and specialty treats on the beautiful grounds of Ardenwood Historic Farm.

Cajun music was derived from the ballads of the French-speaking Acadians of Canada and is characterized by its fast tempo and infectious beat, using the accordion as its prime instrument. Zydeco is a later form of folk music, born in southwest Louisiana in the early 19th century from Creole and Cajun music, as well as the African-American sounds of R&B, Blues, Jazz, and Gospel. A corrugated metal washboard known as a rub-board is also a central instrument of the style, which in addition uses the fiddle, drums, guitar, and bass.

Awarded "Best Zydeco Band" in 2007 by the Bay Area Blues Society, Mark St. Mary Louisiana Blues & Zydeco Band kicks off the festival entertainment with traditional sounds and a variety of Blues, R&B, and Country. Bay Area favorite Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic deliver traditional Zydeco music blended with Hip-hop, Blues, Jazz, and Rock, an offering that got them voted "Best Zydeco Group" in 2008 by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame. Louisiana native Rosie Ledet will be strutting her accordion skills with the Zydeco Playboys, along with fellow Louisianans and three-time Grammy nominees Pine Leaf Boys with their traditional Cajun and Creole music.

This music can't help but pull you to your feet, and for those who might want a little direction, Olivia Guillory will be leading dance lessons throughout the day along with a special guest instructor. In a series of three classes, attendees will learn the basic two-steps and waltzing, moving on to more rhythmic movement and which instruments to follow. Instruction is mostly for partner dancing, but some line dancing will be offered for singles. Instructing at the festival for the past 12 years, Guillory urges prospective dancers to dress in comfortable clothes and shoes, and just have fun.

Come prepared to indulge in a variety of tasty Cajun and Creole food like jambalaya, gumbo, Cajun sausage, red beans and rice, catfish, fried chicken, gator and hushpuppies, and fried sole. Visit specialty vendors to purchase jewelry, hats, or umbrellas; cool off with a snow cone or take home one of the tantalizing array of pies offered, including sweet potato pie, pecan, pecan praline, breadfruit, apple, cherry, and peach cobbler.

Proceeds from the festival benefit the Park Express Transportation Program for low-income schools and groups serving senior or disabled persons visiting the East Bay Regional Parks.

Entertainment schedule:

11 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Dance lesson
11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. Mark St. Mary Louisiana Blues & Zydeco Band
1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Rosie Ledet and the Zydeco Playboys
2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m. Dance lesson
3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic
4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. Dance lesson
5:15 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. Pine Leaf Boys

14th Annual Cajun/Zydeco Music Festival
Saturday, August 21
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(888) 327-2757 (Tickets)
(510) 544-2555 (Information)

Adults: $20
Ages 4-15: $3
Age 3 and under: free

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