Welcoming more than 65,000 visitors a year, Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park in Lafayette, Louisiana, is a main tourism draw in the state. The site shares the history, culture and natural resources of the Native Americans, Acadians, Creoles and peoples of African descent in the Attakapas region (now known as Acadiana) through the end of the 1800s.
The living history museum and park is part of Bayou Vermilion District, which exists to improve water quality and aesthetics of the Bayou Vermilion. The district offers educational opportunities and recreational outlets, like paddling trails and fishing.
“A visit to our venue is a perfect ‘first stop’ in Lafayette,” said Ellen Fucich, marketing director at Vermilionville. “A group tour to Bayou Vermilion District and Vermilionville provides a unique opportunity to experience living history in a literal sense, essential to understanding and enjoying the rich culture of Acadiana, but also ties in environmental concerns and recreation, contemporary arts, music, foodways and fun!”
Vermilionville’s sprawling campus spans 23 acres along the banks of the Bayou Vermilion. The cultural institution consists of 19 attractions, including nine original, restored homes filled with more than 3,000 artifacts. More than 20 local artisans dressed in period attire provide demonstrations and interpret a variety of authentic elements of folklife culture in both English and French.
“Vermilionville is one of the utmost primary sources of Louisiana’s culture and heritage,” Fucich said. “The pinnacle of everything that we are today is rooted in what we find at Vermilionville. We endeavor to engage the world in one of the most fabulous pieces of history that exists in modern times.
“We have created, in our own backyard, a living, breathing history book,” Fucich added. “To squander it could be a detriment not only to the region but also the world.”
A group visit to Vermilionville includes a tour of the village, which could last up to two hours. Visitors can interact with artisans stationed in the houses and buildings, demonstrating crafts and other aspects of early life in Acadiana. Demonstrations include medicinal gardening, weaving, basketmaking and blacksmithing. Self-guided tours are available, but guided tours are encouraged. Add-on enhancements are available too — cooking demonstrations, dance lessons and tours of the Bayou Vermilion District’s “Watershed” exhibit. Group dining is available at the on-site restaurant, La Cuisine de Maman.
“We hope visitors become more appreciative of the contributions of the diverse cultural groups who settled here and have a clearer understanding of the vital part the elements of history continue to play in the modern culture of the area,” Fucich said. “We also hope our guests enjoy themselves. If nothing else, our people know how to have fun!”
Annually, Vermilionville hosts more than 100 events that educate guests about aspects that make Lafayette unique, like language, music and dance, traditional arts, architecture, customs, cuisine and traditional holidays.
“Our Culture Days highlight each of the peoples who merged to make this region the richly diverse and interesting place it is today,” Fucich said.
The living history experience at Vermilionville is ever-changing. Fucich said a microbrewery could be coming to the premises, brewing beers reminiscent of historical recipes.
For more information on Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park, call 337-233-4077 or visit bayouvermiliondistrict.org/vermilionville.
Main image: Artisan demonstration; Credit: Vermilionville