One facet of Louisiana that makes it such an appealing visitor destination is its deep and colorful history. European explorers found their way to the region and inhabited the area very early relative to settlement of much of the rest of the continent. As a result, some communities in Louisiana are among the oldest in the United States. Before those explorers arrived, of course, people we now know as Native Americans populated the region. Reaching still farther back in time, ancient peoples left their mark on the area thousands of years ago. The state of Louisiana offers many ways to explore the region’s rich history, in hundreds of museums, historic structures, landmarks, artifacts and works of art. The careful preservation and restoration of these sites and artifacts has created many rare opportunities for visitors to experience Louisiana’s history and gain insights into the diverse cultures that continue to influence the state today.
Founded by Spaniards in 1779 on the banks of Bayou Teche, New Iberia eventually became home to French settlers known as Acadians, who had been driven from Nova Scotia by British troops. The Acadians, who in their new home came to be known as Cajuns, imbued the region with their unique cultural traditions and cuisine. Today the area—which is home to world-famous Tabasco® hot pepper sauce—is renowned for its food, music and festivals, which draw from the melting pot of Spanish, French, African-American and Creole heritage.
New Iberia’s dedication to preserving its history has helped the community win accolades for its restored Main Street and historic downtown area. A walking tour of the East Main Street National Register Residential District reveals the stomping grounds of famed Detective Dave Robicheaux, the main character in novels by New Iberia native and Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Lee Burke. History is on display in the Bayou Teche Museum and at Shadows-on-the-Teche, an antebellum home was once occupied by Union soldiers during the Civil War. New Iberia also is home to the South’s largest source of quality religious articles, the Rosary House, which draws visitors from far and near to buy hand-made rosaries, devotional candles, statues and medals.
In anticipation of the solemn Lenten season each year, New Iberia throws a festive Mardi Gras celebration, with parades, balls and much revelry. September brings the Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival and Fair, and in October, get ready for the World Championship Gumbo Cook-off. Whether dancing to a fiddle and accordion at a fais-do-do, or perfecting their culinary talents at year-round festivals, people in this area are dedicated to their signature slogan: Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll!