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Southwest Louisiana residents dance their Labor Day away during 2012's Boozoo's Labor Day Festival at the Lake Charles Civic Center. (American Press Archives)

Southwest Louisiana residents dance their Labor Day away during 2012's Boozoo's Labor Day Festival at the Lake Charles Civic Center. (American Press Archives)

Boozoo Fest to take place at Lake Charles Civic Center

Last Modified: Saturday, August 31, 2013 12:48 PM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

For nearly three decades, the Chavis family has hosted an annual festival to showcase zydeco musicians and help keep the zydeco culture going.

The event, started by legendary artist Boozoo Chavis in a field near the family’s Lake Charles home, will be held in the Lake Charles Civic Center Exhibition Hall at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 1.

Margaret John, Boozoo’s daughter and the festival’s promoter, said the family is determined to keep the event going.

“This is going to be the 29th year. My mother, Leona, kept it going after my dad’s death in 2001,” she said. “She died in 2009, but me and my brothers and sisters have kept it going. Daddy started in a field by our house. He wanted to keep up the tradition of zydeco; that was his life and he didn’t want it to die down. That’s what we are trying to do. We are a nonprofit; we do it so people can come out and have a good time. That’s what dad loved about it — seeing people enjoying it.”

Boozoo’s legacy will be seen on stage as well, with four of his stepchildren performing in the Dog Hill Stompers band.

“Quincy and Mason Trail are brothers and Boozoo’s grandchildren, and Rellis Jr., Justin and Cornell Chavis are also brothers and his grandchildren,” said John. “They are all in the band, along with guitarist Brian Allen. Dyllan John sometimes plays the scrubboard with them; he is Boozoo’s first great-grandchild.”

Along with the Stompers, Keith Frank and the Souileau Band, Chris Ardoin and Nu Step, and Geno Delafosse and French Rockin Boogie are scheduled to perform.

The event is now on its third home and will be held in the Civic Center for the third time.

“We had moved to the Knights of Columbus Hall in Iowa, but the building was too small for the crowds and we wanted to bring the festival back to Lake Charles,” John said. “Now it is air conditioned, kids can come out and we like it there. Every year more people come out.”

John said her father liked to help younger musicians.

“He loved anyone that picked up an accordion,” she said. “A lot of bands now — Step Rideau, J Paul Jr. — all tell me they played with or recognized my dad. Keith has been playing with us since we started in the ’80s. He was always trying to keep the tradition going, and they love them for that.

“It is amazing, after all this time, not a day goes by that I don’t here about my dad. People have all kinds of stories, all kind of good things to say about him. On Oct. 12 in Lafayette, at the Festival Acadiane, he is going to be an honoree this year. They are bringing the family over and will let the Dog Hill Stompers play.”

Doors open at 10 a.m.; music begins at 11 a.m. Admission is $15 for adults, $2 for those 12 and younger. For more information, call 438-3482.

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