Ascension Parish Library celebrates heritage and culture

Staff Report
Cousins Iris-Louise Lanoux from Gonzales and Marie-Louise Gerac from The Woodlands, Texas met at the library for the recent Explore Your Heritage program.

     Hundreds of visitors, both children and adults, visited the Ascension Parish Library in Gonzales on April 23 for fun, food, and an opportunity to explore and celebrate their heritage.

     Joining together for the first time, the Ascension Parish Library, the Gonzales Committee on Cultural Affairs and the Jambalaya Festival Association, hosted a full day of activities. Programming, which included authors, genealogists, historians, performers, storytellers, alligators and crafts reflected the true melting pot of cultures that have molded and shaped the community we live in today.  

     “This was a beautiful event with a great turn out.” Marie Rundquist, author and DNA genealogist said. “I loved seeing all the cousins, some of whom drove to Gonzales from other states. We enjoyed hearing all the presenters too."

     Others enjoyed meeting cousins too, some even found new cousins. Attending the Birth of Cajun Culture presentation, members of the audience included descendants of some Acadian families such as Babin, Broussard, Doucet, Hebert, Landry, Lanoux, LeBlanc and Lejeune.

     “It’s imperative to share family histories and stories with our younger generations so they can celebrate their culture and traditions for generations to come," said John Hebert.

     Younger generations were in attendance as they enjoyed Cajun stories, African dance and drums, bilingual storytime and crafts. Arlyne Bordelon and her grandchildren, Effie, JoJo and Eian, spent the day at the library crafting and learning about different cultures.

     "We had the best time ever," Bordelon said. "Where else can you make strawberry slime, dance with a stilt walker, learn some Spanish, Cajun and African words, eat world famous jambalaya, play an accordion and then, to top it all off, pet an alligator? It was a full day.”

     Lee Elisar, 2015 World Champion Jambalaya Cook and his JFA helpers served jambalaya to nearly 300 people while sharing information about the Jambalaya Festival Association and the upcoming festival. Serving out of his big black jambalaya pot he fielded comments and questions from out of state visitors.

     The last presenter of the day, Michael Henderson, author and historian, encouraged everyone to relish the joy of discovery.

     “Each and every bit of what you find has something to do with who you are today,” said Henderson.

     Ascension Parish Library offers many resources, both in-house and online, for anyone interested in exploring their family history and cultural heritage. Visit myAPL.org for more information.

     “It’s been a great success! We love doing this sort of thing," said Library Director Angelle Deshautelles.