Submitted by Jeannie Petrus
St. Augustine Catholic Church in Isle Brevelle will be adding a new twist to their annual church fair this year with a tribute to the area’s unique Creole culture and heritage.
The 2022 St. Augustine Catholic Church Creole Festival, to be Oct. 7-9 at St. Augustine Church, will include a Creole Heritage Exhibit, an unveiling ceremony to rename Hwy 493 to honor the church’s Creole founder, and a special tribute to the man who initiated promoting the influence of the Creole people on the history, culture and heritage of the Cane River area.
“Since we have not had a church fair at St. Augustine since 2019 (because of Covid) we wanted to make this something special,” said Gail Metoyer, festival coordinator. “We wanted to make this more than just a church fair, but a celebration of our Creole culture, cuisine and faith.”
Augustin Metoyer Memorial Parkway
Kicking off the weekend of fair events will be the dedication and renaming of a 3-mile stretch of Hwy 493 from Hwy 1 to Melrose Plantation to Nicholas Augustin Metoyer, the man who, with his brother Louis, built the original St. Augustine Catholic Church in 1829 for the Free People of Color in the Cane River. The road will be renamed the “Augustin Metoyer Memorial Parkway.”
Emile Metoyer, who was the driving force behind the name change, and Sen. Louie Bernard, who sponsored the bill in the state legislature, will lead the ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Cane River Lake bridge where a historical marker will be unveiled. Deacon Mark Guidry, president of the St. Augustine Historical Society, and Father Charles Ray, pastor of St. Augustine Church will attend.
Originally built as a family chapel, it is the only known Catholic Church in the country that was not built by the Catholic Church, but by individuals. Augustin donated the chapel, designed and built by his brother Louis, and a parcel of land to St. Francis’ Church in Natchitoches for use as a mission station. Priests from Natchitoches came regularly to offer Mass in the chapel until it was formally established as a Parish by Bishop Auguste Marie Martin in 1856.
Creole Heritage Display
A collection from the Creole Heritage Center, located on the first floor of Keyser Hall on the campus of Northwestern State University, will be on display during the fair. The Creole Heritage Center was formed in 1998 and is the only unit of its kind in America. The mission is to promote and preserve the Creole culture in all aspects. Informative exhibits and information on how to research family genealogy will be available. Free viewing of Creole history videos will be available including “Four Ladies of Cane River,” “Spirit of the People” and “Common Pot.”
Tribute to Terrel Delphin
A tribute will be made to Terrel Delphin (1938-2012) during the fair for his contributions to the Creole community. The desire to protect and promote the beautiful Cane River area led to his involvement with the St. Augustine Historical Society for which he served as president. His impassioned plea to the Louisiana Board of Regents led to the establishment of the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center at NSU for which he served as chairman of the Advisory Council. He assisted in developing an ethnographic study of the Cane River Creole community for the National Park Service, served on the state committee for the National Register of Historic Places, the Heritage Area Commission for the Cane River Creole National Park, for which he served as co-chair, and was a board member of the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission. He earned his place in history as the “Father of the Creole Renaissance-Resurrection” as seen in the LPB documentary, “The Spirit of a Culture – Cane River Creoles.”
Events for Friday, Oct. 7 include a fish fry and music from 6–10 p.m. Enjoy a catfish dinner with fries, hush puppies and a dessert while listening to the live music of Butch Christophe’s Butchy Woochy band. Eat-in or take-out available.
The kickoff event for Saturday, Oct. 8 will begin with the ceremony at the bridge for the Augustine Metoyer Memorial Parkway. Following the ceremony, the activities, food and music will begin. Deejay music throughout the day will be provided by Doc Couty. Let the kids enjoy face-painting and the many outdoor games while adults can enjoy bingo, the Country Store and the Creole Heritage Exhibit inside where it will be cool.
Raffles for cash, a beautiful handmade quilt and a hand-crafted wooden bar set will be ongoing throughout the festival. Winners of the cash raffle will receive $500 for 1st; $300 for second; and $150 for third place. Other raffles include a handmade “Flying Geese” quilt for a queen/king size bed made by the SACC Ladies’ Quilting Group and a sturdy wooden bar table with stools, hand crafted by James “Boogie” Metoyer.
Food will be available at all times throughout the festival. Gumbo, meat pies, tamales, turkey dinner, boudin balls, hamburgers and lots of homemade cakes and desserts will be available.
Following the celebration of Mass at 5 p.m. with Father Ray, the festival will resume with a turkey dinner in the hall and music and dancing outdoors until 10 p.m.
After the 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, the festival continues from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. when all the food booths, games and music start. The festival will conclude at 3 p.m. with the drawing of the raffle winners.
St. Augustine Catholic Church is located approximately 15 miles south of Natchitoches at 2262 La. Hwy 484, a short distance from Melrose Plantation. For directions or for more information, call the church rectory at (318) 379-2521.
In case of rain, all events will be moved inside the hall.
Submitted by Jeannie Petrus