Créole Culture Day 2023

Welcome to our 21st annual Créole Culture Day Celebration!  Today is focused on celebrating, demonstrating, and honoring the Créole heritage in Louisiana and beyond!  As you dance, eat, and learn, consider the impact of the history and culture not only on the Créole experience of today, but also how far that impact reaches across Acadiana!

Le Programme de Jour

10:00 Day opens

10:00 – 10:30 Herb Green Percussion

10:00 – 4:00 In the Village:

Cultures:  Visual Arts with Erica Melancon Fox

Beau Bassin: The Creole Culture with John LaFleur

Schoolhouse:  Creole Inventions and Cultural Exhibit

Mouton:  Visual Arts of Ravina Amos

Acadienne:  Healer’s Garden Tours with the Lafayette Master Gardeners

Boucvalt:  Poetry with Johnathan Mayers & Chinbo

Buller:  Creole and Zydeco Music with Joe Hall & open-fire cooking with Ivy Broussard

Broussard: House Tours with Kevin Rees & A Story of Enslavement with Cheryl Montgomery

10:30 – 1:00 Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters in the Performance Center

10:30 Sweet Dough Pies -Ms. Deloris Sais

11:00 Reading from Mama Gerry’s Creole Kitchen: Storybook with Recipes with author Rebecca Dargin Rigmaiden in the Pavillion

12:00 Tambou showing in the Conference Room with following Q&A with director Luke Harris and actress Tiffany Guillory

12:30 Sausage Creole Cooking Demonstration with Krystal Moses of Greedy Girl

1:00 The Richard J Catalon award for Creole Cultural Preservation with Lena Charles in the Performance Center

1:30 Traditional Gospel Music with Francis Leblanc in the Performance Center

2:00 Cooking Demo with Nancy Wilson Mémère’s Country Creole Cookbook :  Mayonnaise, German Coast Potato Salad, German Potato Salad

2:00 Screening of Tambou in the Conference Room, with following Q&A with director Luke Harris and actress Tiffany Guillory

3:00 Reading from Mama Gerry’s Creole Kitchen: Storybook with Recipes with author Rebecca Dargin Rigmaiden in the Pavillion

2:15 – 5:00 Donna Angelle and the Zydeco Posse in the Performance Center

4:00 – 5:00 Calas cooking demonstration Vermilionville’s own Jay Steiner


The 2023 Richard J. Catalon Creole Heritage Award

The Richard J. Catalon Sr. Creole Heritage Award was first established in 2004, honoring one of Vermilionville’s first artisan-interpreters, Richard J. Catalon Sr. Shortly after retirement Mr. Catalon become engaged in his “dream job” at Vermilionville, where finally, he could talk about his life experiences as a Creole. For over ten years Mr. Catalon worked in the Mouton house and not only shared with guests his expert craftsmanship, but regaled visitors from around the world with the Creole history, often in his fluent French Creole language. He was known to visit local schools in furtherance of the history of the culture, traditions, and to encourage the Creole language.

This award honors contributions made by individuals who actively promote the advancement of the Creole Culture, through language, food, art, music, dance, Creole language studies, education, and traditions.

To date, eighteen local individuals have received the award for their outstanding contributions in the community and the furtherance of the culture, each of which meets the vision of the Catalon family by depicting character values as role models for the future generations, being involved with local cultural organizations, and are active ambassadors and promoters of the Creole culture and heritage.

    • • 2005 –Donald Cravins Sr                         • 2006- Herb Wiltz
    • • 2007- Deborah Clifton                             • 2008- John Broussard
    • • 2009- Herman Fuselier                            • 2010- Mary Goody
    • • 2011- Geno Delafose                               • 2012- Goldman Thibodeaux
    • • 2013- Willis Prudhomme                        • 2014- Rebecca Henry
    • • 2015- Paul Scott                                        • 2016- Paul Cluse
    • • 2017- Melvin Caesar                                • 2018- Gloria Linton
    • • 2019- Geneva Phillips                             • 2020- Darrell Bourque and Patricia Cravins
    • • 2022 Tiffany Guillory Thomas


Lena Fontenot Charles is a native of Opelousas, St. Landry Parish. Retired from BellSouth in 2009 after 37 years of employment, she has worked to improve economic development, enrich the lives of marginalized populations within her community, as well as being a cultural innovator. She served as president of the Southern Development Foundation and established the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival. She is also involved with the Opelousas Downtown Development District, serving as chair of the board, the St. Landry Economic Development Board and the Child and Youth Services Board, among many others. A woman of faith, Charles has served as a Holy Ghost Pastoral Council member, and the diocese of Lafayette’s Advisory Board on Justice & Peace.

Charles has been recognized for her good works, being named the Opelousas Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce; receiving the St. Landry  Lifetime Achievement Award from Governor Edwards, as well as Women of Heart Award from the United Way of St. Landry/Evangeline, and many other accolades. We honor her today as our Richard Catalon Sr. Creole Heritage Award recipient for 2023.

Today’s music

Herb Green is a native of Lafayette and owner of Pucci Percussion, a mentoring program geared towards encouraging kids to make positive choices. As a professional musician, Mr. Green has performed with local and national music artists in various genres of music. He is passionate about the development of kids through education and the performing arts. He is the Youth Director for Gethsemane COGIC in the Northside of Lafayette and on staff at PARC Village where he teaches Percussion to kids considered at risk. He loves getting his students to realize their potential and helping them go after those things that promote them in life. Pucci Percussion: “Keeping kids In A Positive Rhythm”

A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Cedryl Ballou began playing music at the tender age of five, making his professional debut as a drummer with his grandfather, legendary guitar pioneer Classie Ballou, at the age of 11. His future as a frontman was inevitable—both Cedryl’s father, Cedric Ballou, and step-grandfather, “Rockin’ Sidney” Simien, were successful touring musicians, and Cedryl grew up steeped in Creole music and culture.

A young but seasoned zydeco musician and singer, Ballou shifts easily from drums to accordion and vocals, fronting the Zydeco Trendsetters and touring extensively with regional Zydeco artists, including Andre Thierry, Corey Ledet, Rosie Ledet, Step Rideau and Soul Creole.

Francis Leblanc serves as the music ministry director in his home church parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Breaux Bridge for fifty years, along with several church parishes in the Diocese of Lafayette. He also serves as the music ministry director at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Elizabeth Seton, all in Lafayette, Louisiana. For over 30 years, he has served as the music director for the Diocese of Lafayette, Office of Black Catholic Ministries Annual African American Catholic Youth Congress. Mr. LeBlanc is a member of the Lafayette Ecumenical Choir, where he serves as an Assistant Director and a member of the Tri-Parish Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. He has been featured as a Soloist with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra.

Donna Angelle was born in St. Martin Parish as Donna Charles. Angelle’s love of music made itself known early in life. When she was eight years old on Cypress Island, her parents started to encourage her budding musical talent. In seventh grade in Breaux Bridge, Angelle joined her school’s band, and studied flute, viola, saxophone, and clarinet.

Her career was burgeoning when she suffered a serious auto accident in 1994. When she bounced back, Angelle established a band that she dubbed Chapter IV. When a series of bassists didn’t work out, she took up the instrument herself to avoid future problems. She then pulled together a new band, the Zydeco Posse, that concentrated heavily on a blend of zydeco, hip-hop, and soulful, classic oldies.


Our Créole Culture Day is sponsored in part by the Lafayette Consolidated Government, the Acadiana Center for the Arts, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival & Foundation, and Creole Inc.



Since 1984, Bayou Vermilion District has worked to beautify, conserve, and manage sites along the Vermilion, ensuring the preservation and enhancement of the natural, cultural resources for its citizens. The Bayou Vermilion District’s mission focuses on the environment and the unique culture of Lafayette. On the cultural side of our mission, the Bayou Vermilion District opened the Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park as a way to increase appreciation for the history, culture, and natural resources of the Native Americans, Acadians, Creoles, and peoples of African descent in the Attakapas region through the end of the 1800s. Through historic interpretation and conservation along the Bayou Vermilion, we strive to educate guests on the interactions of these groups and the connections between past and contemporary folklife, thus empowering guests to apply these lessons from our shared histories. For more information, please visit or