Vermilionville Living History Museum & Folklife Park invites visitors to step back in time with a tour or self-guided leisure walk through its historic village. Walkways connect each of the buildings and travel through picturesque moss draped oak and cypress trees along the Bayou Vermilion.
Vermilionville contains a number of original fully restored structures dating in a period of time from 1765 through 1890, as well as recreations of other buildings of this period. The Artisans who work daily in the park provide a glimpse back to a time gone by where Acadians, Creoles and Native Americans provided for themselves and their families.
Artisans provide demonstrations on a variety of essential crafts performed by the early Acadians, Creoles and Native Americans. Please take a moment to read about some of the Artisans who are dedicated to their craft and to the presentation to all visitors.
Want a piece of history? You can have it here at Vermilionville.
Many of the products our Artisans produce are available for purchase in the Vermilionville Gift Shop.
Daily Menu & Events
Brenda is a fourth generation Cajun seamstress from Cecilia, Louisiana. She learned the art of sewing as a young girl, and her interest has since led her to adopt techniques for a wide range of Cajun cultural crafts, including spinning, weaving, soap and candle making, and open-hearth cooking.
With her background as a seamstress, Brenda is also very good at making rag dolls, a traditional Acadian craft. She has led many workshops on her various talents, including those held at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center. She has also demonstrated on local television programs.
Brenda is fluent in Creole French, a skill she has honed as a living history artisan at Vermilionville for many years.
Chief John Mayeux
Chief John Mayeux
Chief John Sitting-Bear Mayeux is a member of the Avogel tribe, one of the oldest Louisiana tribes still in existence. He was head chief for over twenty years, and remains one of the tribal chiefs. Avoyelles Parish is named for the Avogel people, a tribe that has been in the area for at least 5,000 years. As a child, Mayeux saw his culture and language start to disappear, which is one of the reasons he came to enjoy making the things that his people made years ago. The beauty of these things filled his heart with joy. Mayeux has always believed that the true representations of his people would have been more interesting to audiences than the fictitious misrepresentations shown in movies and television Westerns. Working at Vermilionville gives him the chance to tell people about history of his tribe and its people.
Cliff Mire is a self-taught wood carver who has been honing his skills for more than four decades. He got his start carving after his wife was unable to find the type of wooden jewelry she wanted. Beginning only with a pocket knife, a 4-sided rasp and sandpaper made from actual sand, Cliff quickly found he had a natural talent for wood-carving. He since moved into carving wildlife and one-of-a-kind wooden mystery boxes sold at Vermilionville’s gift shop, La Boutique.
Cliff works with all types of wood, including pine, walnut, mahogany, oak and white cedar, but his favorite is cypress collected from the Atchafalaya. A process called spalting makes Cliff’s creations as visually appealing as they are functional. Spalting is the result of a naturally occurring fungus invading the wood and can take upwards of six to eight months. The fungi introduced to the wood sense the presence of one another and secrete chemicals to mark their terriotry, causing the discoloration of the wood. Once the spalting process is complete, Cliff removes the wood from the damp area and moves it to a dry area where the fungus cannot survive.
Cliff is extremely passionate about his work at Vermilionville and has carved every day for the last 41 years. He enjoys speaking French with visitors to the village and actively involves himself in sharing his craft with the community. He is the father of six boys and one girl and the husband of a woman who gently nudged him into his dream career.
D’Jalma is a seasoned Creole fiddler dedicated to preserving the history and tradition of his upbringing. Living amongst a family of musicians in New Orleans, D’Jalma began a musical legacy at the age of five, training first on the violin. By age 18, he become an accomplished guitar player and played with some of south Louisiana’s most well-known bands and musicians, including the band Filé and Terrence Simien.
Jeanette is a self-taught jewelry maker who specializes in crafting jewelry and rosaries from Job’s Tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) seeds. Using Job’s Tears is not only traditional to Acadiana, but it allows Jeanette to utilize both her love of gardening and knowledge of native Louisiana plants. She lives in Youngsville, Louisiana, where she grows her Job’s Tears plants and harvests their seeds. These plants can also be found in the Vermilionville gardens, and Jeanette is happy to point them out to Vermilionville visitors.
The Job’s Tear is a member of the grass family and a close relative to corn. In some parts of the world, the plant is also called “Mother of Corn.” The plant’s hard seeds naturally feature a shiny, lacquer-like finish and a hole through the top and bottom making it perfect for use as a bead. Jeanette works with these to craft jewelry pieces in the same manner her Acadian ancestors did many years ago. She currently demonstrates rosary-making in the chapel only on Saturdays.
Jeanette learned to speak French from her parents and loves to speak the language with visitors to the village. Her bracelets and rosaries can be purchased at the Vermilionville gift shop, La Boutique.
Jules (known in the region a “Nonc Jules”) is a Cajun from Carencro, Louisiana. Jules taught himself to play the Cajun accordion, the triangle (or also known as the “tit fer“), and the harmonica (or also known as the “musique à bouche”). He currently leads the band “Nonc Jules and Lachez-Les” and has written and recorded many popular Cajun music songs with some of the area’s leading musicians.
Born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana to Cajun parents who spoke French as their first language, Bob is a lover of history and refers to himself as a “self-taught historian-in-progress.” Inspired by frontiersmen like the coureurs de boisand his own heritage, Bob began to seek out ways to learn the old crafts and skills practiced by his ancestors. His passion for learning and understanding the pastimes of a bygone era have inspired him to pick up traditional craftsmanship as an adult and pass what he has learned onto others. At Vermilionville, where Bob has re-immersed himself in his heritage, he has given presentations on Acadian history, bousillage and trapping (especially concerning the coureurs de bois) and hide preparation. He is also knowledgeable about bushcraft, leatherwork, firecraft and fibercraft (including finger weaving, Inkle Loom and cordage making)
Joycelyn Trahan was a beloved artisan employed by Vermilionville for over 15 years. She was a tenth generation Acadian and who spoke French language of her ancestors. Her understanding of and appreciation for traditional Cajun textiles stemmed from a background in sewing, which she learned from her mother while growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana.
At 93 years old, Merlin Fontenot was the oldest member of the Vermilionville family. Merlin was a time-honored master of the Cajun Fiddle and promoter of Acadian culture. He began playing the fiddle when he was only seven years old, but even in his old age said that he was “still learning.” He never learned to read music, but learned to play “by ear” as a boy growing up in Eunice, Louisiana. Merlin was a fixture at Cajun dance halls by the age of 15.
Merlin’s skill earned him much recognition, having won fiddle championships as far away as Florida, where he performed in front of crowds of more than 15,000 people. He performed twice on stage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee and was honored as a master musician in a music series presented by Harold Bernard.
Merlin was with Vermiionville for more than twenty years and was known to draw many returning guests who, years later, requested to see this Cajun legend. He enjoyed playing music and sharing his knowledge of Acadian culture in the school house (l’Ecole), where he engaged young and old visitors alike and encouraged his audience to share in his enthusiasm through participation. Merlin believed there is no place in the world like south Louisiana and said there was no where he would rather be.
Book a Tour
The Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife park provide a wonderful educational experience for adults and children alike. Book a tour today.
Weddings can feature a variety of appetizer items, banquet style meals, a barbecue or crawfish boil offered through our on-site catering department.
Canoe and Kayak Rentals allow paddlers and adventurers an opportunity to enjoy the timeless beauty of Bayou Vermilion at their leisure
Experience some of the main attractions at Vermilionville such as Historic Homes, and immerse yourself in the rich history of Acadiana
Vermilionville’s gift shop, La Boutique, offers a unique selection of Cajun, Creole and Native American arts and crafts, as well as literature and music CD’s from the area.
Be honest : you’re here because you’re craving something authentic, right? And by the grace of good taste, you’ve found yourself at our kitchen.
Education is a main focus at Vermilionville. We strive to offer an educational and entertaining outing for students referred to as Cultural Excursions.
Thank you for your interest in using Vermilionville Living History Museum & Folklife Park as a backdrop for your photo sessions.