“Just to see everyone happy and smiling and having a good time, it’s like a family now. You see the same people when you come. It’s like, ‘Hey, you were here the last time.’ It’s really cool,” said Terry Dominque with the Creole Trio band.
Every weekend, the campground fills up all available spots. Children playing, cooking, a pool full of kids, dogs roaming around, plenty of circles of friends and food are just some of the things everyone can expect to see at the campground.
Mikey Legendre and his family bought their very first camper right before Covid last year.
“We got here for Good Friday and enjoyed our weekend. We ended up enjoying the weekend so much that me and my family since we couldn’t go to work, we stayed here for 12 days so this is our getaway. This is our second home. I’m hooked,” said Legendre.
So hooked that they set up camp, literally, and this specific trip was to celebrate his daughter’s fifth birthday.
“Then while we came here, we found out they were having this BBQ cook-off so then we have friends and family who came, and decided they were cooking also,” said Legendre.
They’re not the only ones who took part in the first ever BBQ cook-off at the campground.
“We barbequing some pork ribs, some pork steaks and some chicken,” said Yogi Dauphine of Parks, Louisiana.
Dauphine’s main reason for the weekend’s trip was the barbeque. His team, called the “Two Brothers,” already won first place in a gumbo cookoff a few months ago. This trip, he was trying his hand at barbeque chicken.
Pork and ribs were the other two competitions. In total, 34 different teams took part for some highly sought-after awards. One winner was deemed the grand champion.
While competitors cooked and the kids and dogs played, the Creole Trio kept everyone company.
“It’s mostly traditional French, just trying to keep the culture alive. We have other bands but this is just for the younger generation so they can see where it came from,” said Dominque.
Domingue said this was Creole Trio’s fourth trip back to Cajun Heritage to play and despite the scorching heat, Dominque said he was thrilled.
“It’s just my way of easing my mind, my relaxation and forget all my troubles I have. They come back but at the moment, it’s all good,” said Dominque.
Shane Hollier and his wife Stacy are the owners of the renovated campground. They live just a few miles away, but more often than not, he said they end up staying on site in their own camper at the park.
“I do full time now. I was in the car business for 26.5 years, and my wife and I moved to Butte La Rose about 12 years ago. We were friends with the previous owner’s daughter and said, ‘If your mom and dad ever want to sell the campground, we would be interested,’ and it all just worked out. I did both jobs for about eight months until we got it off the ground like we wanted to and now, we’re having a blast,” said Hollier.
He said he wanted to keep the Louisiana traditions alive and that means the food, music and family and friends. it’s why he came up with competitions.
“We try to have four cook-offs a year. We continue the tradition in St. Martin Parish. We’re the second oldest cook-off in St. Martin Parish. It’s the wild rabbit cook-off. I believe it’s coming in its 41st year next year. That is big for us. We normally have 1200-1300 people in the park,” said Hollier.
As for the competition, Yogi Dauphine from Parks took home first place for his chicken. Ten different teams competed in all three categories making them eligible for the grand championship plaque.
This year’s winner included a family of a father, mother and their young daughter.
“I want kids to be able to come in there and experience and grow up with the Cajun culture we have,” said Hollier.
It’s why he said they came up with the camp’s name — Cajun Heritage.
“It’s going away. I mean somebody has to keep it going. Our kids are not continuing our heritage. Somebody has to keep it going. That’s why we do what we do. We promote the Cajun heritage,” said Hollier.
Hollier said when Covid hit last year, they didn’t know what to expect.
“It may have helped us, believe it or not, because people wanted to get out. They said we can go camping and get away and stay to ourselves at our campsites,” said Hollier.
Covid hit musicians hard too like Clifton Brown, who recently went back to playing live country music, but never at a campground.
“We just came back from a different state and stayed at a campground and I pulled out my guitar and they asked me to quit playing it because they don’t believe in that kind of stuff over there so it’s south Louisiana, it’s our heritage,” said Brown.
Now how is a Louisiana Saturday Night complete without a little live music and some dancing. This specific weekend featured Clifton Brown and the Rusty Bucket Band and no, boots are not required.
When you’ve had enough, simply walk back to your camp site with the stars guiding your path, sit around a fire and thank god for a Louisiana Saturday Night!
July 31st will be a children’s cook-off. Hollier said the next four to five weekends are booked solid for now.