Books and movies about a place proves its magical

Book adventures for all ages and entertainment styles

comes to New Iberia for the third year.

A radio station once said about a multi-faceted festival in another city, “There’s just so much to it, we don’t know how to promote it.” The same statement could be said about the Books Along the Teche Literary Festival, but to put it in a nutshell, it’s celebration of the colorful life and times of people and places along the Bayou Teche. Writers have masterfully captured the culture of the Teche Area for decades and it’s time for area residents to join the celebration as a ticket buyer, attendee of free events, as a volunteer or a sponsor for any amount if unable to be at the three-day events.

The festival is not just for avid readers. Organizers have painstakingly created a series of events that give visitors of south Louisiana, fans of James Lee Burke books and locals a reason to support the arts in a new way. In the lead of the community supporters are the three organizations known as the Iberia Preservation Alliance, namely the Iberia Cultural Resources Association, Bayou Teche Museum and Shadows-on-the-Teche, a National Trust for Historic Preservation site. They are not alone.

Sponsors Make A Festival

It takes a whole community to build an international festival and it takes time to build sponsorships that allow for a fully free festival. Considering the cost of locations, insurance, promotions, food, entertainment, logistical support, PA and AV equipment — no wonder the cost is amoritized over ticketed events where some of the money can be recouped. 

Just look at the list of free events and you’ll get a sense of what you’re supporting as a ticket holder. No amount of sponsorship is too small. If you can’t attend, send someone you love. Reserve a seat for the free events to keep count on the number needed. Response has been great for Ernest Gaines’ appearance and organizers are anticipating an overflow room. Reserved seating insures you’ll have a place in The Sliman Theater to hear Gaines speak.

Festival sponsors for this year include Acadiana Bottling Company, Books Along the Teche, City of New Iberia, Edward Jones, Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, Iberia Parish Library, Iberia Parish Government, Iberia Performing Arts League, New Iberia Main Street Program, Office of Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, Patrick and Elizabeth Little, Pelicans on the Bayou, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Sir Speedy, Dr. William and Carolyn Doerle Schumacher, The Daily Iberian, The Grand Theater and The Teche Project.

“The Books Along the Teche Literary Festival delivers the experiences that ‘Feed Your Soul,’ the new tagline from Louisiana Travel,” said Pam Forrest, coordinator for this year’s festival. “Savor fascinating presentations and discussions with authors and noted literary experts, peruse books and other original artistic creations, taste local food sensations and listen to the music. Let yourself ‘pass a good time’ in a second line parade or a Cajun two step. Teche Fest has something for everyone to enjoy, with lots of free events and activities for all ages.”

New This Year

  The exciting part of being in New Iberia April 6-8 as the Books Along the Teche Literary Festival makes its debut with the new name, the third year after starting as the Dave Robicheaux Hometown Literary Festival, is watching it grow. Literacy is such a big part of daily living and organizers what to see more children and youth activities — but, they require support from volunteers and creative minds to help invision and coordinate opportunities. 

For the first time this year, ages 8 to 12 will have a chance to author and illustrate their own books. The Youth Storybook Workshop will be headed by Margaret Simon and Paul Schexnayder on Saturday morning at A&E Gallery where other young artists will have their paintings on display. 

At The Sliman Theater, a Young Writers Discussion will feature 14-year-old Zelvin Collins II who considers himself a feeling sharer by writing. Also active in sports and music, he is the author of two books including “Troubled Omar” and “Tyrone’s New Life.” His father is a pastor and his mother is author Maggie Perrodin Collins, her book “Celestial Blue Skies.” Both will be sharing their experience and love of writing Saturday morning from 9:30 to 11 a.m., in town from New Orleans.  

Young people attending the panel discussion will have the opportunity to enter a drawing for reserved seating and lunch at the “Investigating the Story” Fiction Panel Discussion at noon Saturdayin the Sliman Theater, downtown New Iberia.

A repeat from last year is the T-Boy’s Bayou Adventure. Three trips were scheduled but one has already sold out. Also returning is the food demo, the kickoff event Friday morning giving visitors a reason to come to the festival early and locals a chance to visit with favorite chefs.

All Over New Iberia

There were just too many genres being written in the Teche Area, and too many reasons to visit to limit the festival to one author, James Lee Burke. Although visitors travel to New Iberia from around the world to experience Dave Robicheaux’s hometown, organizers have kept the touches of Burke alive with lunch at Victor’s before a bus tour to Dave’s Haunts and Jaunts, choose Friday or Saturday trips. Plus, the University of Louisiana Lafayette Symposium explains his work.

Many books have been made into feature films — some will be featured during the Teche Literary Festival — and some books along Main Street may one day be filmed in and around Acadiana, if entreprenueral authors have their way. This year The Grand Theater will be showing three movies for free in conjunction with the festival, popcorn and drinks are your expense. The first movie is from the Ernest Gaines book, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” 2 p.m. Friday. 

A James Lee Burke offering shows at 4 p.m. Saturday, “Heaven’s Prisoners” starring Alec Baldwin. “In The Electric Mist,” starring the Teche Area and many of its extras, will be showing again this year Sunday at 2 p.m. at The Grand Theater.

The best way to decide what to do during the festival is to visit BooksAlongTheTecheLiteraryFestival.com or TecheFest.com for short. Descriptions for all of the events are included there, a brief guide for times and fees is provided today only for reference. If people are returning for their third year, then it’s easy for organizers to have confidence, there’s something special going on April 6-8. One lady said of the four literary festivals she attends annually, the New Iberia festival has already reached the top spot. 

Volunteers Still Needed

All age volunteers are still needed from students to help authors with table setup, to sitters who can enjoy greeting visitors at the different venues. With 12 different locations, not to mention the designated stops along the bus route, volunteers play an important role in offering hospitality to first timers as well as residents. Call the Shadows Visitors Center or while online, there’s a link for volunteer signup, T-shirts included for advance registration. 

Not a book reader?

That’s okay, there’s something for you Saturday morning. Sir Speedy 5K Run/1K Walk is registering runners at Runsignup.com/Race/LA/NewIberia/SirSpeedy5KRunand1MileFunRun, T-shirts for early registration as well.

No T-shirt this year for Bourée players, but lessons are available for novices and a Saturday afternoon tournament puts the skills to good use. Signup for both at all the usual places. If your interest has been missed, volunteer next year.

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