LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — In the early 1970’s, officials wanted to recreate a typical 1800’s Cajun village in Lafayette. The design team transformed 10 acres of farmland into a shaded community with a bayou running through it.
CEO of Acadian Village, Brian Hensgens, said, “Acadian Village to me is a great place right now to come. You get to learn some history, see some history, but it’s calm. It’s peaceful. I think that’s what we need. I think that’s what people are looking for.”
Acadian Village was created to serve three purposes: preserve a piece of early Acadian heritage, raise funds to help offset government cuts to the program, and provide employment for developmentally disabled individuals.
“The only reason for Acadian Village is to raise funds for LARC. We have over 250 developmentally disabled clients in the entire Acadiana area so this is to raise money to help us do more for those clients,” added Hensgens.
Collin Codina is one of those who benefits. He works in the Acadian Village bead store. Collin said, “I do the bead store. I do the packing and sort them out and everything else.”
LARC’s Acadian Village mission is to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in reaching their goals of self-sufficiency, quality of life, and self-worth.
Each December, LARC’s Acadian Village transforms into a Christmas wonderland for a fun-filled 23-day celebration, called Noel Acadian au Village.
Katie Roy, Payroll and Assistant Coordinator for Noel Acadian au Village, explained, “Our clients depend on us every day to have a place to come. We teach them their self-worth. They work. They get paid so this program is absolutely important.”
Noel Acadian au Village features half a million lights, including lighted holiday displays, live entertainment, carnival rides, and photos with Santa. This year, the staff will be taking extra COVID-19 precautions.
Hensgens said, “We have 10 acres. It’s wide-open. It’s almost impossible not to social distance. It’s a beautiful, calm setting. Acadian Village is a microcosm of the history and the tradition of Acadiana and of Southwest Louisiana.”
For more information on Acadian Village, visit their website, https://acadianvillage.org/.