The 32nd annual Festival International de Louisiane kicked off its five-day music lineup Wednesday night.
Two bands opened the largest, free, international festival in the United States. Lost Bayou Ramblers played from 6:30 p.m. – 7:45 p.m., and Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble finished the night with a set from 8:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
While people enjoyed performances from one stage location on the first night, the festival will expand to seven performance areas.
According to the 2018 schedule, stages are added by day and all seven will be in full swing Saturday, April 28. Both Saturday and Sunday of the event are full-day experiences—Saturday beginning at 9:00 a.m. and Sunday at noon. Admission is free.
For the first time ever in history, Festival is introducing a new RFID wristband system, sponsored by IberiaBank Corporation. The wristband is free, but the only form of payment at all beverage and merchandise locations will be through the RFID official wristband. Formerly known as ticket booths, there will be Top-up stations to activate all wristbands. Event-goers who wish to purchase a beverage or merchandise must create a prepaid account through the wristband that will be scanned by the vendors.
A University of Louisiana at Lafayette senior, Abby Johnson, who said she is an annual Festival-goer, said she was unhappy with the wristbands.
“It’s aggravating because you can only [upload money] in $5 increments so if you don’t want to spend that much, you’re forced to,” Johnson said in an interview. She also said she was not pleased with the actual process of getting a wristband.
Another UL Lafayette student, Sydney Davis, said she would not go out of her way to acquire a wristband.
“The line just [on Wednesday] was so long so if I were to go Saturday without knowing of this process, there is no way I would wait in line to get a wristband just to get a drink.”
The final music set is scheduled for 5:30 Sunday evening with a popular local musician, Marc Broussard.