Welcome to St. Landry Parish
The St. Landry Parish Visitor Center located at I-49 Exit 23, was opened in 2011 as one of the first visitor centers in the state designed to be an attraction in itself. The Center is an award-winning example of how sustainable practices can and should be incorporated in the design and function of a building as well as a state certified welcome center.
From its orientation on the property to the materials used for construction, much attention was given as to how both old and new practices could be used to tell the story of St. Landry Parish. As one of the largest and oldest parishes in Louisiana, St. Landry’s rich history has been well preserved for visitors to see today. The building is used to start that conversation about who we are and where we came from. Learn about unique Louisiana practices like bousillage and how that relates to our use of processed cardboard and newspaper for insulation. We’ve incorporated reclaimed materials such as the longleaf pine used as flooring in our lobby and the handmade bricks reused on our exterior wall.
“This project is an affirmation of how far the travel and tourism industry in St. Landry Parish has come,” reflected Celeste Gomez, Director of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission. “We have identified that visitors come to St. Landry Parish to experience our traditional way of life – the ways that come naturally to us – our friendliness, our food, our music, our culture. This venue allows us to better serve our visitors in telling our story and to ensure that they explore and experience all that St. Landry Parish has to offer.”
As a gateway to the Atchafalaya Basin, St. Landry Parish provides adventures where culture and nature blend through enduring traditions. Many visit the area to engage in the rich traditions of the Cajun and Creole cultures, from the cuisine to Cajun and zydeco music. Paddlers can explore our historic bayous, the Teche and Courtableau, and cyclists pedal our scenic back roads year-round.
The newest addition to the St. Landry Parish Visitor Center is the Amédé Ardoin Commemorative, a 1,500 lb. carved steel statue of the iconic Louisiana musician, Amédé Ardoin. This public sculpture was designed by award-winning artist, Russell Whiting, and was made possible by members of the Amédé Ardoin Project Committee. The project honors one of the earliest French-speaking Creole musicians to commercially record his songs and the first to build a library of over 30 recordings with national labels.
According to music expert Herman Fuselier, “Amédé crafted tunes that poured the foundation for Cajun music and zydeco. Today, every Cajun and Creole band plays the ‘Eunice Two Step.’ It was first recorded by Amédé Ardoin and fiddler Dennis McGee in 1929.” Unfortunately, Ardoin’s career quickly took a tragic turn when a racial assault left him with a brain stem injury, resulting in institutionalization and death. Today he is buried in an unmarked grave on the grounds of the Central Louisiana Hospital in Pineville, LA. The Amédé Ardoin Project Committee formed with the purpose of symbolically bringing him home through this public memorial.
The “Key of ‘C’ Accordion” kiosk is the Center’s sister piece to the Commemorative. The kiosk is a “hands-on” tool and allows users to access CajunTravel.com to learn more about the culture and heritage of the people of St. Landry Parish. Users can also hear the sounds of Southwest Louisiana through the use of the accordion’s keyboard buttons. These buttons play songs from a variety of genres and educate all ages about the evolution of Cajun and zydeco music. One of the sculptures most impressive features is its mobility. Using a pulley system made with vintage window sash weights, the accordion can be adjusted to anyone’s height. Learn more about the “Key of ‘C’ Accordion” kiosk and the artist, Kelly Guidry, here.
Tours of the center are available for all ages. Participants will learn more about the building and the landscape design that plays an integral part in this project utilizing indigenous plantings and trees from St. Landry Parish, reflecting several of Louisiana’s ecosystems. The St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission has partnered with Le Vieux Village Heritage Park and St. Landry Parish Solid Waste, making it easy for organizers to fill their day with educational opportunities.
This collaboration is perfect for teachers who are interested in teaching their students about art, culture, and sustainable practices. At Le Vieux Village, students will take a step back in time and tour homes and businesses from the 18th and 19th century. At St. Landry Solid Waste, your group could visit one of the most progressive waste facilities in the U.S. In fact, they are the first facility in the state of Louisiana to fuel garbage collection trucks with 100% natural landfill gas. Guests can tour the landfill and the wildlife habitat while learning how to create less waste.
If time is limited let us know. We are happy to create a custom itinerary for any group interested in visiting these attractions.
Architects: Ashe, Broussard, Weinzettle and Edward Cazayoux, FAIA of EnvironMental Designs
2012 Gold Winner, Architecture-Commercial by The Independent, INDesign Awards
2012 Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects, Louisiana Affiliate
2012 Member’s Choice Award by the American Institute of Architects, Louisiana Affiliate
2013 Favorite Place to be Inspired by Country Roads Magazine Annual Readers- Choice Favorite Things Survey
2016 Honor Award in General Design by American Society of Landscape Architects
Visitor Center Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm
Monday – Saturday
9am to 5pm
978 Kennerson Road
(I-49 exit 23)
P.O. Box 1415
Opelousas, LA 70570