Dipping Into Cajun Culture
Dipping into Cajun culture
By Nicole T. Lesson
May 13, 2002
Fort Lauderdale + Coming to the 10th annual
Cajun-Zydeco Crawfish Festival on Sunday, Scott Fluegel, 13, of Weston, expected
New Orleans' style music and food. But nothing prepared him for the Watermelon
"I just kept walking around," said Scott, who raised up his
watermelon and, like the others, let it fall to the ground. "I liked smashing
the watermelon. You can get some energy out of it."
A dance of
celebration, the Watermelon Sacrifice had people walking around with painted
melons while singing "Red to the rind," a chant that goes way back to vendors
hawking watermelons on the streets of New Orleans.
The sacrifice starts
out slowly and gradually grows into a frenzy when the watermelons are thrown
into the air. Then everyone rushes forward to enjoy a piece of the smashed
"The children really get into things -- they sit on the
watermelons and have fun," said Jack "Tu Tu Man" Varuso of New Orleans, who
helped lead the sacrifice at the Fort Lauderdale Stadium Festival Fairgrounds.
"This is part of tradition."
There was no escaping the aroma of spicy
boiled crawfish or the sounds of Cajun and zydeco music at the three-day
festival organized by the Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department. About
25 bands performed on three stages, and the Back Woods Area featured acoustic
performances and history and culture workshops.
Drenched in sweat,
Clifton "Crop" Leon couldn't stop dancing while Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Road
Runners were on stage.
"It's zydeco, it's the feeling of the music -- it
just lifts you up," said Leon of Lafayette, La., who flew in for the festival.
"No words can describe zydeco. It just grabs you in and you can't stop moving."
No official attendance numbers were available late Sunday. Debbie
Dunbar, the city's festival and events coordinator, said: "We were expecting
40,000 people for the weekend, and I think we came close to that.
really a festival about celebration of life and bringing people together," she
Nicole T. Lesson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Copyright Ā 2002, South Florida
Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel