The Southwest Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society is sponsoring a new cruise through the heart of Cajun country. The “Cajun Classique” event begins in Breaux Bridge on Monday, April 7, through Sunday, April 13.
As far as it is known, this excursion represents the only classic boat cruise west of the Mississippi River.
“We've done cruises before, and continue to do them around the country, but this is the first cruise down the bayou with a taste of Cajun culture,” said Wayne Elliott, member of the Antique & Classic Boat Society (ACBS) and veteran cruiser. “During my attendance at LSU years ago, I would hop across the Basin to visit Cajun country any chance I could for the food, music, and of course for the Cajun people.”
Elliott and new ACBS member Cory Werk are tour directors of this event, with Cory operating Bayou Teche Experience on site in historic downtown Breaux Bridge.
“It's a perfect match,” said Werk. “From the time Cajuns settled the swamps and bayous of South Louisiana, boats were a necessity for trapping, hunting and fishing for subsistence. They built their wooden boats by hand by watching and doing, not by reading a blue print. A folk art that still goes on today.”
The cruise will end at the Wooden Boat Show at the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival in Franklin, La. Considering the foibles of antique watercraft, a mechanic will be on call throughout the cruise. The “Cajun Classique” cruise down the oak-tree laden Bayou Teche will go through St. Martin, Iberia and St. Mary parishes over seventy miles in two days.
Time out will be taken to experience the local culture including its indigenous music and food. The Teche's historic and cultural significance will be highlighted. A remnant of the Mississippi River's waters of 5,000 years ago, the Teche has seen Civil War battles, has welcomed the first settlements of the Cajuns in 1765, and is home to the oldest operating lock and dam structure in the Mississippi Delta. Boaters will lock through this 100-year old structure.
Cultural excursions include visiting New Iberia, the hometown of Pulitzer Prize nominated author James Lee Burke who writes about the famed Detective Dave Robicheaux; Breaux Bridge, the Crawfish Capital of the World; plantation homes; rice mills; the world-famous Tabasco plant and Jungle Gardens; and a visit with a local Cajun boat builder may prove the highlight of all.