Fans, residents and officials packed the Bayou Cabins Bed and Breakfast in Breaux Bridge for their hometown hero, country music superstar Hunter Hayes. The Country Music Award winning artist visited with fans during a two hour meet and greet, in preparation for his first concert at the Cajundome.
Hayes is the opening act for Carrie Underwood on the Blown Away Tour, but Monday, Hayes was the main attraction.
"It's crazy to see how people react and it's humbling at the same time," said Hayes
Breaux Bridge and St. Martin Parish officials showered him with awards and shared their memories of Hayes. Donna Richard, St. Martin Parish Tourist Commission Director said, "Bayou Cabins is a special place for Hunter. A lot of us got our very first glimpse of Hunter when he performed on this stage once a month, on Sundays when he was growing up."
Hayes said remembering the old days is one of the best parts about coming home.
"It's funny, we were driving around last night and it's like 'oh, that's my grandmother's place' or 'oh, I used to travel that road everyday for school.' It's just good to relive those memories,"
Mayor Jack Delhomme said his town is blessed to have Hayes and presented his parents, Lynette and Leo Hayes with a key to the city. He also proclaimed Monday, April 29, 2013 as Hunter Hayes Day.
"We also officially recognize Breaux Bridge, Louisiana as Hunter Hayes's hometown," said Delhomme.
Parish President Guy Cormier called Hayes an inspiration and commended him for bringing "spirit and life to Acadiana and country music." Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne presented Hayes with a proclamation, making him a Louisiana ambassador, on behalf of the Louisiana Legislature.
To top off the local awards, Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival Association and the St. Martin Tourist Commission presented him with a portrait, from artist Tony Bernard. Hayes said he was blown away by the display.
"I've got a lot of thank yous to say. I haven't gotten to them all yet, but that's my goal,"
Hayes met and took pictures with eager fans before heading to soundcheck for his first show in the Cajundome.
"It hasn't registered yet, to be honest. It hasn't clicked that I'm performing at the Cajundome. I look at that building that I have been in a hundred times to watch my favorites, to watch all the shows and all the artists that I have studied for years and all the shows that I was so excited to get tickets for and couldn't sleep the night before. I couldn't sleep last night. It's not going to click until I am in there," Hayes explained.
Hayes said the show Monday night will be a little longer, since it is his homecoming. His performance also includes new music. As far as plans for a new album, Hayes said he is working on one but is taking his time. He said there will be a re-release of his first album, which will be re-branded as Hunter Hayes: Encore.