Helping to sustain the traditional cultures of coastal Louisiana

In collaboration with the Louisiana Folklore Society and other organizations, the Folklife Program is offering activities to help to sustain the traditional knowledge of coastal communities affected by land loss in Lafourche, St Mary, Terrebonne, and lower Jefferson Parishes. We are especially interested in supporting traditions that are endangered due to land loss. The activities will be at a variety of locations throughout the area, and will vary from workshops, classes, and presentations about local traditions or how to sustain them.

Bayou Traditions

Traditional knowledge of the coast includes those about the land and wetlands in addiiton to traditions about all aspects of life. Tradition bearers would come from any of the traditional cultures from those descended from the earliest settlers to most recent immigrants. See examples of traditions here.  

Bayou Culture Collaborative Events

Events include an artist sense of place workshop, collecting stories workshops in Lafourche Parish, gumbo making at the Chauvin Folk Art Festival, carving classes, sense of place writing workshops, Mardi Gras costume making, and more. Most events are free, but some require registration because space is limited. 

Moving Traditions Forward:  Documenting Bayou Culture Workshop Series

Learn to document valued traditions, conduct oral history interviews, and share discoveries with your community in a series of four free interactive workshops running March 30 through May 11. You will identify and explore traditions that you want to pass on to your children and grandchildren. Together, they are your trunk of traditions. These workshops will offer strategies to help ensure traditions are passed on to future generations. 

See Calendar of Events for details about each workshop.

↓ See 2019 Schedule of Events


February 17
Costume Designing with the King of Tradition
  Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum, 7910 W Park Ave, Houma, LA 70364.
  10 am to 1 pm.
Description: Do you have an idea for an award winning costume, but haven't quite figured out how to bring your vision to reality? Learn how to design and build a costume from the King of costuming, Lance Brown. King Lance will have materials on hand for building costumes, however, participants are welcome to bring materials they may already have. From gowns to crowns, everyone will leave this workshop with a finished product of some kind. King Lance has also decreed that all costumes built at this workshop will automatically be entered into a contest for best design. First prize is a custom made costume by the king. 2nd & 3rd prizes are pre-made costumes designed and built by the king. Winner need not be present. Costume winners announced at 1:00pm.
Collaborator(s): Krewe of Tradition
Facilitator: Lance Brown, Krewe of Tradition
Registration: $5. To register, contact The Krewe of Tradition by filling out a contact form at  https://kreweoftradition.org/contact/. Advance registration is not required. Walk ins are welcome! 


March 23
Louisiana Folklore Society meeting
  Duhe Center,  235 Civic Center Blvd, Houma. 
  9 am to 4:30 pm.
Description: The Louisiana Folklore Society's annual meeting offers a full day of presentations about traditions in Louisiana. 
Registration: See www.louisianafolklore.org for details. $10 registration. All are welcome.


March 29
Best Practices in Preserving Cajun Music
   Gina’s at the Legion, 114 Saint Mary Street, Thibodaux, Louisiana
   5:30 pm to 8 pm.  
Description: Since David Greely had a front row seat to the herculean efforts to save Cajun Music from being forgotten, we have asked him to share what he has learned so that we can follow his example to save the unique Cajun Music that was born here in the Bayou Region. Greely will provide an introduction to the history of Cajun Fiddle with a mix of lecturing and musical demonstrations. He will include stories of how his work as a musician helped to preserve the music culture that was quickly slipping away in the 1970s when some of the last remaining members of the first generation of Cajun Recording Artists were being lost. After David Greely presents his primary presentation, all participants attending the workshop will be invited to join in an Open Cajun Jam, beginning at 7:00 with the Cajun Music Preservation Society and David Greely providing musical leadership.
Collaborator(s):  The Center for Bayou Studies, Nicholls State University in collaboration with The Cajun Music Preservation Society  
Facilitator:   Gary LaFleur, Nicholls State University Center for Bayou Studies; David Greely, Cajun Musician 
Registration:  Participants can register by sending an email to Dr. Gary LaFleur at gary.lafleur@nicholls.edu, or showing up at 5:00 on the day of the workshop.


March 30
Exploring Local Folklife and Choosing What to Document
  North Branch, Terrebonne Parish Library, 4130 West Park Avenue, Gray, Louisiana.
  9 am to 3 pm. Lunch will be provided.
Description: This low-key, highly interactive workshop will call on participants’ personal traditions as a way of introducing folklife and documentation. Expect an engaging day as we delve into regional culture and brainstorm potential topics. Part of the Documenting Bayou Culture Workshop Series.
Collaborator(s): South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, Terrebonne Parish Library
Facilitators: Paddy Bowman, Local Learning; Maida Owens, Louisiana Folklife Program
Registration: Required is required due to limited space. While attendance at all four Documenting Bayou Culture Workshops is recommended, it is not required. For those who complete the series, mentoring will be available to help community members complete their projects. Registration deadline is Monday, March 25. To register, contact Brigid Laborie, Terrebonne Parish Library, blaborie@mytpl.org, or leave a message at 985-876-5861, ext 242. Include your contact details if you leave a message.


April 7
Making Houma Indian Gumbo at the Chauvin Folk Art Festival
  Chauvin Sculpture Garden, 5337 Bayouside Drive, Chauvin, Louisiana.
   10 am to 4 pm - festival hours. Time of gumbo demonstration is 11:30 am. 
Description: Learn how to make Indian gumbo from Janie Luster and her daughter Ann Luster of Bayou DuLarge. Dr Robin White of Nicholls State University will discuss French as spoken by the Houma Indians. 
Registration:  None


April 10
Collecting Stories Workshop
   Lafourche Parish Public Library – Thibodaux Branch, 705 West Fifth Street, Thibodaux, Louisiana 70301
   5 pm to 7 pm.  
Description: Come learn how to collect stories of life along Bayou Lafourche as part of the National Park Services Bayou Stories project. Attend this event to train as a volunteer interviewer to help us preserve local history. The workshop will address collecting sensitive subject stories in the area during this two hour workshop.
Collaborator(s):  Lafourche Parish Public Library, Nicholls State University English Department, National Park Service, Nicholls State University Psychology Department.  
Facilitator:  Shana Walton, Nicholls State Univeristy Department of English 
Registration:  This workshop is free. Participants can register by sending an email to thibodaux@lafourche.org, or by showing up the day of the workshop.


April 13
Getting Ready for Interviewing: Techniques for Documenting Local Stories and Knowledge
    North Branch, Terrebonne Parish Library, 4130 West Park Avenue, Gray, Louisiana.
   9 am to 3 pm.   Lunch will be provided.
Description: Using low-tech equipment and sharing easy, essential interview basics, facilitators will prepare community members to discover more about local traditions and stories through interviewing. Participants are invited to bring their own recorders, cameras, and smart phones for hands-on practice.  Part of the Documenting Bayou Culture Workshop Series.
Collaborator(s):  South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, Terrebonne Parish Library Facilitators:  Lisa RathjeLocal Learning;   Maida Owens, Louisiana Folklife Program Registration:  Required is required due to limited space. While attendance at all four Documenting Bayou Culture Workshops is recommended, it is not required. For those who complete the series, mentoring will be available to help community members complete their projects. Registration deadline is  Monday, April 9. To register, contact Brigid Laborie, Terrebonne Parish Library,   blaborie@mytpl.org, or leave a message at 985-876-5861, ext 242. Include your contact details if you leave a message.


April 16
Collecting Stories Workshop
   Lafourche Parish Public Library – South Lafourche Branch, 16241 East Main Street, Cutoff, Louisiana 70345
   4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.  
Description: Come learn how to collect stories of life along Bayou Lafourche as part of the National Park Services Bayou Stories project. Attend this event to train as a volunteer interviewer to help us preserve local history. The workshop will address collecting sensitive subject stories in the area during this two hour workshop.
Collaborator(s):  Lafourche Parish Public Library, Nicholls State University English Department, National Park Service, Nicholls State University Psychology Department. 
Facilitator:  Shana Walton, Nicholls State Univeristy Department of English 
Registration:  This workshop is free. Participants can register by sending an email to southlafourche@lafourche.org, or by showing up the day of the workshop.


April 27

Writing on the Bayou

Lafourche Parish Main Library, 314 Saint Mary Street, Thibodaux, Louisiana
   10 am to 12:30 pm.
Description: Come explore your memories of your community in a two and a half hour writing workshop. The session is split into two parts and starts with a concentrated study of identity-centered, place-based, nonfiction writing, from national and regional writers. Participants will brainstorm ideas for their own writings or discuss ongoing projects. The second part of the session is comprised of a hands-on writing workshop in which participants will create their own place-based Louisiana nonfiction writing. Attendees will receive guidance and individual feedback on their writing. No writing experience is necessary. Writers of all levels are welcome. A writing journal will be provided.
Collaborator(s):  Center for Bayou Studies, Nicholls State University; Lafourche Parish Public Library  Facilitator:  Michael Martin, Nicholls State University English Department
Registration:  This workshop is free. Participants can register by sending an email to michael.martin@nicholls.edu or showing up the day of the workshop.



April 27

Catch and Release: Documentary Photography and Videography For Your Community

  North Branch, Terrebonne Parish Library, 4130 West Park Avenue, Gray, Louisiana.
   9 am to 3 pm.   Lunch will be provided.
Description: Hands-on practice with expert documentarians will teach basics as well as tips for more experienced participants to improve their media skills. Then learn what to do with your work. Part of the Documenting Bayou Culture Workshop Series.
Collaborator(s):  South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, Terrebonne Parish Library  Facilitators:  John Sharp, Center for Louisiana Studies;   Maida Owens, Louisiana Folklife Program; Philip Gould, photographer; Monique Verdin; multi-media artist. 
Registration:  Required is required due to limited space. While attendance at all four Documenting Bayou Culture Workshops is recommended, it is not required. For those who complete the series, mentoring will be available to help community members complete their projects. Registration deadline is Monday, April 22. To register, contact Brigid Laborie, Terrebonne Parish Library,   blaborie@mytpl.org, or leave a message at 985-876-5861, ext 242. Include your contact details if you leave a message.



May 11
Presenting, Archiving, and Funding Your Project
    North Branch, Terrebonne Parish Library, 4130 West Park Avenue, Gray, Louisiana.
   9 am to 3 pm.   Lunch will be provided.
Description: What can you do with your documentation? Explore doable, diverse options for sharing your projects during this workshop. Part of the Documenting Bayou Culture Workshop Series.
Collaborator(s):  South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, Terrebonne Parish Library
Facilitators: Maida Owens, Louisiana Folklife Program; Brigid Laborie, Terrebonne Parish Library
Registration:  Required is required due to limited space. While attendance at all four Documenting Bayou Culture Workshops is recommended, it is not required. For those who complete the series, mentoring will be available to help community members complete their projects. Registration deadline is Monday, May 6. To register, contact Brigid Laborie, Terrebonne Parish Library,   blaborie@mytpl.org, or leave a message at 985-876-5861, ext 242. Include your contact details if you leave a message.


May 18
Pathways and Portals: Artists Exploring Sense of Place
  North Branch, Terrebonne Parish Library, 4130 West Park Avenue, Gray, Louisiana.
  9 am to 3 pm.
Description: Regional artists are invited to a free immersive workshop connecting them to the local environment, bayou culture, and one another. Expect a day filled with hands-on explorations of personal traditions, regional sense of place, and artistic creation. Participants will work individually and collaboratively throughout the day. Facilitators are experienced art and folklife educators with regional and national experience in networking as well as professional development.
Registration:  Required is required due to limited space. Registration deadline is Monday, May 13. To register, contact Brigid Laborie, Terrebonne Parish Library,  blaborie@mytpl.org, or leave a message at 985-876-5861, ext 242. Include your contact details if you leave a message. 

↑ Hide the 2019 Schedule




Workshops, Classes, Presentations

If you are interested in hosting a workshop, class, or presentation, contact: Maida Owens, Louisiana Folklife Program, folklife@crt.la.gov, 225-342-8178. These are only some of the possible options.
  • Fait à la main/Made By Hand -- Classes to learn arts and crafts, such as duck carving, basket weaving using local resources
  • Performing the Traditions -- Classes to learn traditions such as singing songs in French
  • Presentations about the traditions and culture of coastal communities by community scholars and other researchers
  • Writing on the Bayou - Exploring your memories and sense of place 
  • Make a Community Quilted Wall Hanging
  • Writing poetry - Exploring your memories and sense of place in French or English 
Existing Documentation

Find essays on the Folklife in Louisiana website and other sources that address traditions in Louisiana's coastal communities here.

Collaborators and Funders

This project is a collaboration between Louisiana Folklore Society, the Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Program, the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, Nicholls State University Center for Bayou Studies, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Center for Louisiana Studies, and Bayou Regional Arts Council.

The collaborative is funded with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

If you would like to know more, contact the Folklife Program director or explore the Folklife in Louisiana website.

©2019 Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism