By Ebrar Reaux, El Festival Español Chairman
El Festival Español de Nueva Iberia
April 26, 2019
Bouligny Plaza, Downtown New Iberia
Celebrating the history, culture and heritage of Spanish New Iberia
In April 1779, led by Francisco Bouligny, several Malagueno families arrived in boats propelled by long oars or sweeps along the third bend of the Bayou Teche which begins near the intersection of Jane Street and Camelia Street.
There, some of the men exited the boats and climbed the tall trees. They observed that the land was an open prairie and apparently very fertile.
After landing, they made camp a short distance from the Bayou Teche. This area was named “Nueva Iberia” in consideration of their homeland.
At first, they cultivated flax and hemp, but failing, abandoned agriculture and turned to cattle raising, for which the land was better suited.
Included in these families were the founding families of New Iberia: Miguel Romero, Juan Garrido (Gary), Gonzalo de Prados, Juan Miguez, Sebastián de Segura, Antonio Villatoro (Viator), Francisco de Ortiz, Juan López, and Grenadier, Gabriel López.
Today, many of their descendants remain in New Iberia and annually celebrate the history, culture and heritage of the “Spanish Cajuns.”
El Festival Español de Nueva Iberia
The purpose of the festival is to create an awareness of the many contributions of the Spanish to the rich history of New Iberia and Louisiana.
New Iberia is the only extant town in Louisiana to be founded by Spaniards during the Colonial Era.
Following the twinning with Alhaurin de la Torre, Malaga, Spain (New Iberia’s sister city), El Festival Español begun in 2012 to promote, celebrate, and recognize our local Spanish heritage and culture.
Each year since then, the festival continues to grow, thanks to the acceptance and support of a very generous community.
Festival activities can be found on our festival website, NewIberiaSpanishFestival.com and includes the annual Spanish Festival Queens’ Pageant, a presentation/lecture on Spanish painters, a Spanish painters’ exhibit, a Spanish gala, the Running of the Bulls 5K/1mile Fun Run, a re-enactment of the arrival of the Spanish on Bayou Teche, paella/tapas Cookoff, arts and craft, flamenco entertainment, children’s activities, Spanish family genealogy, St. Peter’s cemetery tour, a mass of Thanksgiving and much more.
Come and celebrate with us!
Spanish Festival Gala
Join us on Friday, from 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm at the Sliman Theater in downtown New Iberia for great food, tapas, wine and sangria and some of the best flamenco entertainment you will ever witness.
Tickets are $75 each and include a one-year membership to La Asociación Española de Nueva Iberia. Tickets can be purchased by calling 337-349-7343 or by emailing me.
Running of the Bulls
Can’t make it to Pamplona, Spain for the annual Running of the Bulls?….NO problem!
Join us on Saturday, for a family oriented, fun-filled 5K run and/or a 1 mile walk beginning at 8:00 a.m.
Awards will be presented on stage at the Steamboat Pavilion in Bouligny Plaza in numerous categories immediately following the run.
Registration will also be held the morning of the race from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m. behind the Steamboat Pavilion on Fulton Street. Group rates are available and wearing Spanish colors (red, yellow, and white) is encouraged.
The festival will begin with a walking parade from the Sliman Theater on Main Street to the Steamboat Pavilion in Bouligny Plaza at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday. The public is invited to join us in the parade. The Mayor’s welcome and opening ceremony will follow.
Re-enactment of the arrival of the Spanish
With the help of Jim Viator and the support of the Iberia Performing Arts League, festival goers will be treated to a professionally done re-enactment of the arrival of the Spanish in 1779.
Local descendants of the founding families represent their ancestors on stage and share a little bit of New Iberia’s amazing history with the audience.
Join us for a truly educational experience!
If cooking is your passion, then consider entering the Paella and Tapas Cook-off on Saturday in Bouligny Plaza.
Serving will be from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with Judging at 11 a.m. Set-up is available Friday afternoon and Saturday from 6 to 8. a.m. On Site Paella cooking is required.
First, Second, Third and Honorable Mention Awards will be given.
Decorated booths celebrating our Spanish art theme are encouraged. An award will be provided for the best decorated booth.
The St. Peters Historic Cemetery Tour will include five Iberia Performing Arts League actors dressed in period clothing and focus on eight gravesites, including three Spanish family founding members who are buried (with descendants sharing family stories).
This is an exciting new element, which will add a greater focus on New Iberia’s history, while generating an interest in preserving the historical site.
Names of those buried within, in some cases, date back to when the cemetery was established in 1838. Tickets for the Cemetery Tour are $8 each and are available by contacting Freddie DeCourt.
For more information on the festival and the complete schedule of events, visit NewIberiaSpanishFestival.com
To learn more about New Iberia's twin city, click here.