St. Landry Parish is made up of twelve municipalities all having their own unique characteristics. It's rich culture and history come from the diverse people who have called it home. Cajun, Creole, French, African, Spanish, Italian and Native American people have mixed and matched here for almost three centuries. Those influences give St. Landry Parish music, food and culture that few can match. Located in south central Louisiana, this 939-square mile parish is also known for its natural beauty and wildlife. Hiking, fishing, hunting, bird watching, camping, paddling and other outdoor activities are possible in two wildlife management areas covering thousands of both forest and swamp land.
Take time to explore our communities:
In Arunadville, a town of 1,400 residents located at thr junction of Bayous Teche and Fuselier, "cultural economy " is not just a buzz phrase. in recent years, Arnaudville has become a haven for artist, musicians, dancers, writers, culinary experts and champions of the French language. Approximately four out of 10 residents speak Louisiana French on a daily basis. Arnaudville hosts two annual events - the Etouffee’ Festival in April and Le Feu et L’eau (Fire and Water) Rural Arts Celebration in December. Residents and visitors can enjoy breakfast en francais on the last Saturday morning of each month at La Table Francaise, partake in a weekly quilting circle or hear live music monthly at the local potluck social. Shoppers can browse for treasures during a town-to-town yard sale spanning seven plus miles held each spring and fall that attracts visitors throughout the state and beyond. Arnaudville is home Bayou Teche Brewing, which is a craft brewery featured on the LA Brewery Trail. Beers are crafted to compliment the cuisine and lifestyle of Cajuns and Creoles. All beers are named in French to help preserve the culture and language. The town’s Deux Bayous Cultural District, effective since October 2008, is a part of the Louisiana Cultural Districts (LCD) program. LCD was created by Act 298 of the 2007 Regular Session of the legislature. The primary goal of this initiative is to spark community revitalization based on cultural activity through tax incentives. St. Landry Parish is home to six Louisiana Cultural Districts. Here, visitors reap part of the benefits as sales of original artworks are tax free.
Cankton, in the Coulée Croche section of St. Landry, takes its name from Dr. Louis Aristide Guidry, who was known as "Cank." It's said that he was an avid duck hunter as a boy. Guidry would signal his family that he was home from a hunt by using the duck call "Cank, cank, cank." His folks would say, "Cank est revenu, " (Cank is back) and the name stuck.
The town of Eunice, founded in 1894, is named for Eunice Pharr Duson, wife of pioneer land developer C. C. Duson. Starting out with 160 acres of prairie he bought from a local landowner, Duson laid out lots, arranged for Southern Pacific to extend a railroad line to the area, then started advertising for buyers in newspapers. In September 1894, the first two trains rolled into the depot, carrying prospective buyers from throughout Louisiana, as well as people from Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The auction lasted the entire day, and when it was over, almost 150 lots had been sold at an average price of $100 each.Today, with a population of about 12, 000, Eunice is a lively city that actively celebrates its history and French culture, calling itself the Prairie Cajun Capital. Lying amid rice fields and crawfish ponds glistening in the sun and decorated with the colorful wildflowers of the prairie, the city of Eunice offers visitors the opportunity to learn the story of the area's extensive Cajun culture.The history of the area's Acadian people, who are called Cajun today, unfolds at the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, part of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve, in downtown Eunice. The center not only contains exhibits and artifacts that have been meticulously assembled and documented, it also hosts music sessions and native craft and cooking demonstrations.The Liberty Center, right next door, provides the opportunity to step back in time and attend shows featuring Cajun bands. The dance floor at the bottom of the stage in this completely restored movie house is perfect for practicing the two-step and the waltz, the dances most favored by the locals.Take a walking tour of downtown Eunice and be sure to drop in at the museum housed in the Eunice train depot and at the Cajun Music Hall of Fame and Museum. And along the way, feel free to step into the shops and sample the local cuisine. The people of Eunice will be happy to help make your visit to their unique city a memorable one. The Eunice Prairie Cajun Cultural District, effective since October 2008, is a part of the Louisiana Cultural Districts (LCD) program. LCD was created by Act 298 of the 2007 Regular Session of the legislature. The primary goal of this initiative is to spark community revitalization based on cultural activity through tax incentives. St. Landry Parish is home to six Louisiana Cultural Districts. Here, visitors reap part of the benefits as sales of original artworks are tax free.
Proclaimed as the "Sweet Dough Pie Capital of the State" in the 2014 Louisiana Legislature one can find this homemade treat all over town. Annually on the fourth Saturday in October, the town hosts the Sweet Dough Pie Festival that draws thousands. The Grand Coteau Historic District is one of the few primarily rural districts on the National Register of Historic Places. Grand Coteau is noted for its magnificent trees that form alleys, groves, and gardens. Within the district there are over 70 structures designated as architecturally significant. Creole, French, Acadian, Anglo-American, and Victorian styles are reflected in the houses, stores, and religious institutions. Of special significance is this last category, Grand Coteau and Catholicism have been deeply connected for over 175 years. The church and retreat centers continue to provide extensive spiritual and educational guidance for the community and visitors from afar. In the early 1800s, Grand Coteau served as a stopping point for travelers between Washington in St. Landry Parish and St. Martinville in St. Martin Parish. The thriving community had two bakeries, a cobbler, millinery, and blacksmith shop, a post office, and an inn where stagecoaches changed horses. In 1821, Mrs. Charles Smith, widow of a wealthy planter in Opelousas, donated land, a two-story building, and funds to pay for the travel expenses of two nuns from St. Charles, Missouri. The two nuns of the Religious of the Sacred Heart founded a convent and a school that became the Academy of the Sacred Heart. The Jesuits arrived in 1837 when St. Charles College, a Jesuit boarding school, was built. The settlement that grew up around the schools was called St. Charles Town before it was changed to Grand Coteau. Although thousands of Federal troops were encamped in the fields surrounding the Academy during the Civil War, the school was not touched. Union General Nathaniel Banks had a daughter in school in New York run by the Religious of the Sacred Heart, and he was asked to look after the Grand Coteau sisters and their students. The first Jesuit rector of St. Charles College planted the alley of oak trees that runs from the front of the Academy to the town of Grand Coteau. The Jesuit priests served as chaplains for the cloistered nuns and the Academy students, and the trees were planted to protect them from the intense summer sun as they rode back and forth between the two schools. Today, the college is used as a Jesuit seminary and spirituality center. The lovely grounds include the dairy barn, one of the town's landmarks. Visitors to Grand Coteau are always taken aback with the beauty of the trees and gardens and the stately serenity of the buildings. Hear the story and visit the shrine of the Miracle of Grand Coteau at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, then stop to browse the antique and gift shops, or sample the local cuisine. The shops and restaurants, all housed in renovated, historic buildings, are a treat in themselves. The Grand Coteau Cultural District, effective since July 2011, is a part of theLouisiana Cultural Districts (LCD) program. LCD was created by Act 298 of the 2007 Regular Session of the legislature. The primary goal of this initiative is to spark community revitalization based on cultural activity through tax incentives. St. Landry Parish is home to six Louisiana Cultural Districts. Here, visitors reap part of the benefits as sales of original artworks are tax free.
In 1900 Col. Krotz drilled the first oil well in St. Landry Parish thinking he was sitting on an untapped pool of oil. But instead he struck water. The artesian well became known as Krotz’s Spring and was used to supply water for the developing sawmill town. Krotz even bottled the water and sold it throughout the country. Situated on the Atchafalaya River, Krotz Springs is a port and refinery center handling almost three million tons of liquid and dry bulk cargo such as oil and grain. The town is also a gateway to the outdoors with the 40,000-acre Sherburne Wildlife Management Area along its eastern border. Krotz Springs also offers access to Indian Bayou, a 28,000-acre public access area in the Atchafalaya Basin. Both areas offer a plethora of outdoor activities including camping, hunting, hiking, ATV trails and nature photography.
Nestled along scenic Bayou Teche between Opelousas and Arnaudville on Highway 31, the community of Leonville was founded as a settlement of free men of color, or gens de couleur libres. The town was named by the settlement's first pastor, Father Leon Mailluchet, who built the first church there in 1898. The present church, with its distinctive tower, was built by the second pastor, Father Eugene Livorel, between 1907 and 1916. He converted the old church into a rectory, and upper windows in the attic are still paneled in stained glass from the days that the house was a church. The IFBS Lodge, located just west of town on Highway 31, is the frequent headquarters for zydeco trail rides, weekend celebrations of music, food, camping and horsemanship. New in 2012, visitors and locals can enjoy the public boat launch providing easy access to Bayou Teche for boating or paddling.
Because of its location on the Atchafalaya River, the town of Melville made its fortune in river commerce and then as a crossing point for the railroad. According to old documents, Melville had several fish docks and ice houses. By the turn of the century, 50 barrels of fish were being shipped from Melville each day.
The city of Opelousas became known as the "Zydeco Music Capital of the World" in 2000 when the Louisiana Legislature made official what locals already knew. It's the birth place of Clifton Chenier (1925-1987), a master accordionist hailed as the King of Zydeco and the first musician to lift zydeco to an international stage. In 2014, he earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Louisiana's third oldest city was founded by the French about 1720 as a military station and trading post with the Opelousas Indians. French coureurs des bois had been coming into the area for a while, and they were followed closely by French missionaries who were determined to convert the Indians and pray for the trappers. Opelousas soon became a stopping point for travelers going between Natchitoches and New Orleans. Although the territory war ruled in turn by the French and Spanish, neither government encouraged colonization. Nevertheless, by 1769, about 100 families were living in Opelousas. When the Spanish military pulled out of the colony, many of the soldiers who had come from throughout the Spanish empire, including Swiss and Italian mercenaries, stayed in Opelousas. Besides French and Spanish settlers, the area also attracted English, Scotch, Irish, and German colonists, as well as a group of Acadian exiles who settled along the banks of the area bayous. Men and women of African heritage began arriving in the 1700s as slaves, gens de couleur libres, and free blacks. During the Civil war, Opelousas served as the capital of Confederate Louisiana for a short time. The home of Charles Homére Mouton on Liberty Street was used as the governor's home during this period. Also, during the Civil war, the city was used as a command post and training camp by the Confederacy and the Union. After the war, the city began to grow and prosper with the establishment of the railroad, which connected Opelousas to the rest of the world. Today, the primary industries are agriculture, oil, manufacturing, wholesale and retail. Visitors to this lovely old city will be delighted by the architecture, the shaded streets, the wonderful cuisine and, of course, the music. Named the Home of Zydeco Music, Opelousas is also the birthplace of the King of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier. Tour the city during the day, stopping along the way to sample everything from homemade boudin and cracklins to the luxurious Cajun and Creole dishes. End your day with an evening of dancing at one of the area's zydeco or Cajun clubs. Or experience the area's newest attraction, Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino, which opened in December 2003. And remember, each year, on the Saturday before Labor Day, thousands attend the Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival in Plaisance, on the outskirts of Opelousas. Since 1982, this one-day festival of Creole music and culture attracts visitors from throughout the United States and the world.The Opelousas Cultural District, effective since July 2012, is a part of the Louisiana Cultural Districts (LCD) program. LCD was created by Act 298 of the 2007 Regular Session of the legislature. The primary goal of this initiative is to spark community revitalization based on cultural activity through tax incentives. St. Landry Parish is home to six Louisiana Cultural Districts. Here, visitors reap part of the benefits as sales of original artworks are tax free.
Located on La. Hwy. 10, between Melville and La. Hwy. 71, this community was named for the plant that grows in abundance throughout the area. Before a sign was made for the train depot, fronds of palmetto plant were nailed to the building.
A busy port in the steamboat days of the early 1800s, Port Barre, the site of a French trading post 250 years ago, sits right at the point where Bayou Courtableau flows into Bayou Teche. In 1733, the semi-nomadic Opelousas Indians petitioned the French colonial government to send traders to their district. A couple of coureurs des bois, who had come to the area in search of trade opportunities, set up a trading post where the bayous meet. In 1765, Jacques Courtableau, a wealthy landowner, gave land grants to 32 Acadian immigrants. That same year, he sold a large parcel of land including the site of the first trading post to Charles Barre. The post later became known as Barre's Landing, then Port Barre.
Sunset is also the "Rubboard Capital of the World" as proclaimed by the 2014 Louisiana Legislature via Resolution SRC81. A rubboard is only one of four musical instruments founded in the United States and lifelong resident Tee Don Landry and his family are the reason behind this name. To date, he has handmade 2,200 rubboards and keeps a map of where each one calls home. There are several stories of how the town of Sunset, surrounded by fertile fields and racehorse farms, got its name. According to one story, the town was going to be called Sibilleville, after a prominent family in the area, and whose descendants still live there today. In another version, the workers building the railroad named the new train stops as they reached them. Apparently, they named the town Sunset because they reached it at the end of the day. There is also the story that a conductor on the Sunset Limited, which ran through the town, suggested naming the town for his train. Then, there is the one about the meeting held in Grand Coteau just before the Civil war. Afraid the train would bring yellow fever into the community, the residents wanted the train to go somewhere else. It is said that someone who argued for the railroad in Grand Coteau said, "If the railroad does not go through Grand Coteau, our community's sun has set." The railroad through Sunset was finally completed in the 1880s, and businesses began to spring up around the depot. A nice resting stop is the lovely Garden Park located across from the South St. Landry Public Library. This location comes alive the first Saturday in May for the annual Celebration of Herbs & Gardens sponsored by the Sunset Garden Club. The town has flourished in the past few years with small, entreprenurial business owners setting up antique markets, thrift shops, antique stores, fused glass art galleries and studios. Sunset participates in the Corridor des Arts tour that also runs through Arnaudville and Grand Coteau. Visitors can stop in to see artists at work in their studios and purchase tax free art pieces. The Sunset Cultural District, effective since July 2012, is a part of the Louisiana Cultural Districts (LCD) program. LCD was created by Act 298 of the 2007 Regular Session of the legislature. The primary goal of this initiative is to spark community revitalization based on cultural activity through tax incentives. St. Landry Parish is home to six Louisiana Cultural Districts. Here, visitors reap part of the benefits as sales of original artworks are tax free.
Virginia may have its Williamsburg, but Louisiana can proudly claim Washington as her own piece of early America. The town of Washington on Bayou Courtableau is the jewel in the crown of St. Landry Parish. It was originally called Church's Landing because it was the site of the first Catholic Church in the parish, built in 1770. Once the second largest port in Louisiana and a major inland commercial route for the area, Washington was a thriving steamboat town in its heyday. Steamboat service began in the 1820s after Bayou Courtableau and the Atchafalaya River were cleared of obstruction. Horse carts and boats from area plantations brought in agricultural products including sugar, cotton, and livestock. At Washington, everything was loaded onto steamers to be shipped to New Orleans through a myriad of bayous, rivers, and inlets leading to the Atchafalaya River. With the heavy commercial activity during the steamboat days came the necessary structures: warehouses, shops, and homes for the planters and steamboat captains. Much of the original town is included in the Washington Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. According to National Register documents, the town contains a large number of fine examples of Louisiana house types, as well as a number of late 19th-century commercial buildings including a steamboat warehouse, a brick warehouse, and several shops that retain their original ornamental shop fronts. Take a minute to visit the Washington Museum and Tourist Information Center to find out about everything Washington has to offer. Then stroll down the narrow, tree-lines streets of this beautiful town for a sublime slip into the past. The lovely homes, many of them carefully restored, add to the 19th-century feel. Antiques reign supreme here, so plan to spend some time in the shops on Main Street and in the antique mall in the old Washington High School. Every year on the second weekend in April and October, the schoolhouse and hundreds of vendors greet thousands of visitors at the Semi-Annual Antique Fair & Yard Sale. The Washington Cultural District, effective since July 2014, is a part of the Louisiana Cultural Districts (LCD) program. LCD was created by Act 298 of the 2007 Regular Session of the legislature. The primary goal of this initiative is to spark community revitalization based on cultural activity through tax incentives. St. Landry Parish is home to six Louisiana Cultural Districts. Here, visitors reap part of the benefits as sales of original artworks are tax free.