Festival International welcomes patrons, volunteers

Festival International de Louisiane kicks into full fear Friday in Lafayette, filling downtown with music, crafts, street performers, and plenty of food and drink.

The free international music festival, now its 27th year, runs through Sunday, and the lineup includes local Cajun and Zydeco music, New Orleans brass bands and dozens of international acts from a list of countries that includes Ireland, Zimbabwe, Mali, Israel, Brazil, Canada, Iran and Italy.

Reggae band The Wailers will close out this year’s festival at 5:45 p.m. on Sunday at Parc International.

The festival is expected to attract nearly 400,000 visitors to the city, festival organizers said.

“It’s obviously a tremendous event for us,” Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission Director Ben Berthelot said.

The festival officially began Wednesday with one stage. The music spreads to the four main stages on Friday, and two smaller stages will open on Saturday and Sunday — one at the children’s area near St. John and Vermilion streets and the other in the food court at Parc Sans Souci.

Performances are also scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the “LA Craft Biergarten” in the parking lot next to Jefferson Street Pub, 500 Jefferson St.

The Biergarten is a relatively new addition to the festival and will showcase Louisiana-made beers and mainly Louisiana music.

Tucker Sappington said the Biergarten was launched last year but is expanding this year with more food offerings and more music.

“Every year we have an evolving festival,” said Sappington, vice president of marketing for the festival’s board of directors.

Sappington said the festival is also expanding on an area where festival artists sit down for interviews about their life and work.

Those sessions will take place at the “Chat Room” near Parc de Lafayette on Jefferson Street.

Another new addition for this year’s festival is a second shuttle stop for festival-goers who park off-site at Cajun Field. The old shuttle stop on Jefferson Street will be in service throughout the festival, and the second stop will be available Friday and Saturday at the other end of downtown at the intersection of Garfield and Buchanan streets.

The festival also needs about 2,000 volunteers to work three-hour shifts, organizers said.

ä ON THE INTERNET:

http://www.festivalinternational.com