Set for Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the second annual West Baton Rouge Acadian Heritage Celebration will honor the influence of the Acadian culture in the parish.
The free event will be held at the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Activity Center in Brusly and is sponsored by the West Baton Rouge Museum.
This year’s celebration will feature the LeJeune family, many of whom still live in West Baton Rouge and many genealogies of Acadian families in the parish include LeJeune ancestry.
The Acadian Heritage Celebration will feature free jambalaya, Acadian dancers and musicians, heritage door prizes, on-site genealogy research, an ancestor photo display and children’s activities.
The Facebook group “Our Ancestors in Photos” was created after a chance conversation between Lucy Landry and Billy Hebert, who found out through DNA testing they were related.
“We really need to do something in West Baton Rouge because we have a lot of people of Acadian descent who live here,” Hebert said. “We started knocking around ideas about how to share our Acadian heritage.”
The Facebook page was the first step. As of this week, the group has 333 members.
It is one way for the descendants to remember their ancestors, most of whom came to Louisiana on seven ships traveling from France in 1785 during the Great Deportation.
Acadians had been exiled from present day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island beginning in 1755 and many of them also made their way to Louisiana.
The members of the Facebook group, created by Debbie Doiron Martin, exchange stories, photos and historical notes about West Baton Rouge and its current and past Acadian residents.
“Nine generations of my family have lived in West Baton Rouge Parish since the arrival of those first Acadian settlers,” Hebert said. “And many families in West Baton Rouge have that common bond.”
To provide an idea of the prevalence of Acadian ancestry in the parish, he said that in a parish with a population of over 26,000, “a high percentage of those of are of Acadian descent.”
“When I was growing up, almost all of the students had Acadian surnames,” Hebert said, Hebert being the most common.
“My dad used to tell me, “When you cross the river to the West Side, and throw a stick, you either hit a dog or an Hebert,” he joked.
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Activity Center is at 402 S. Kirkland Dr., (River Road), in Brusly.
For more information, contact Hebert, the event chairman at (225) 200-5950.