Lafayette music and arts festival expected to draw 400,000

Hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers will once again descend on downtown Lafayette this week to enjoy music and art from all over the world at the 28th annual Festival International de Louisiane.

The five-day music and arts celebration begins Wednesday and doesn’t stop until Sunday night.

This year’s music lineup features more than 400 musicians in 68 acts, including The Funky Meters, Tinariwen, Radio Radio, Bombino, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars and Zachary Richard.

Organizers estimate 400,000 people will attend Festival International this year over the course of the week, which is consistent with the crowd size of previous years.

“Festival is certainly maturing and growing every year in subtle and obvious ways,” said Executive Director Missy Paschke-Wood.

She said the free, nonprofit arts organization is “constantly striving to provide the best content and experience for all of our attendees and supporters.”

Along with the music, art and food, a few surprises have been added to this year’s agenda.

The first Kick-Off Fundraising Concert will be held Monday night at the Blue Moon Saloon, featuring surf guitar legend Dick Dale and Lafayette native Dege Legg.

Tickets are $35, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the festival. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Festivalgoers can also stay connected this year with a free Wi-Fi hot spot provided by LUS Fiber near Scène TV5Monde Lafayette in Parc Putnam in front of the federal courthouse.

“This will give people an opportunity to share and talk and text with others, either at the festival or not, on cellphones or other devices in a way they’ve never been able to do before,” said Phil Barnidge, a sales and marketing analyst with the city-owned LUS Fiber fiber-optic network. “It will display what our Internet system can do, and it gives festivalgoers the opportunity to share the festival with others.”

The hot spot will be confined to Parc Putnam and will not extend past that area, he said.

The LUS LA Craft Biergarten is another relatively new area popular with festivalgoers, Paschke-Wood said.

The Biergarten, located in the parking lot next to Jefferson Street Pub, was added to the festival three years ago and features beers from breweries around Louisiana.

Festival International also has formed a new partnership this year with the Lafayette Science Museum, which will host a Festival Chat Room in the front room of the museum.

“The Chat Room is where music lovers get up close and personal with their favorite artists,” Paschke-Wood said, “and, for the past few years, it’s been outside on Jefferson Street, which has been less than ideal.”

As a bonus, the Lafayette Science Museum also will have free admission during the festival weekend so attendees can view the new dinosaur exhibit.

For a complete listing of performers and events at this year’s festival, visit www. festivalinternational.com.