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One of the 22 Acadiana parishes, St. Landry Parish (established April 10, 1805) is located in south-central Louisiana; its parish seat is Opelousas( first settled in 1720). St. Landry has a population of 81,939 (1995 est.) and is 928.7 square miles in size. It was named for the old St. Landry Catholic Church and St. Landry, the Saint who founded the Hotel Dieu in Parish in the sixth century.

Its major crops are yams, soybeans, rice, cotton, and corn; it also produces beef cattle and dairy products. Attractions include a Jim Bowie historical marker; Bowie and Jean Lafitte were two adventurers who once lived in Opelousas. The Opelousas Museum & Interpretive Center, the weekly Rendez-vous des Cajuns live-music radio program at Eunice’s Liberty Theater (next to which stands the Jean Lafitte Prairie Acadian Cultural Center). Thirty percent of its population is Cajun.

The citizens of the parish have preserved many of the old customs of the Acadians including the fais-do-do (lively dancing or a dance for everyone) and early winter boucheries (hog killings)

The Opelousas Daily World was the first newspaper printed by offset press in the U.S.

Opelousas holds the International Cajun Joke Telling Contest in April, the St. Landry Parish Heritage Festival in May, the Annual Beef Cook-Off in July, and the Louisiana Yambilee Festival (they are the largest yam (sweet potato) producer in the world) in October. Eunice offers the World Champion Étouffée Cook-off in March and the Prairie Folklife Festival in October. Washington hosts Le Festival du Lapin de La Grande Prairie (Big Prairie Rabbit Festival) in August. Arnaudville has the Festival de Grand Coteau in November, while that same month Port Barre hosts its Cracklin Festival. The parish is the site of what is known as the "1806 Miracle", during a total eclipse of the sun. For Festival Info.

Opelousas was an Indian trading post, and was once the capitol of Louisiana during the Civil War. It is also considered the birthplace of Zydeco music. It was once a Spanish military outpost.

Grand Coteau is the home of Academy of the Sacred Heart (1821), the oldest school in continuous operation west of the Mississippi.

The town of Washington was named in honor of George Washington but was first known as Church Landing, a busy river port. Some of the oldest homes in Washington still have port holes for firing rifles through.

St. Landry Parish is the birthplace of famed Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme.

Sources:, Evangeline: A Study in Cajun Culture, the Louisiana Almanac, and personal experiences.

St. Landry Parish, from Wikipedia
St. Landry Parish, from Enlou
St. Landry Parish, School Information
St. Landry Parish, Government
St. Landry Parish, Tourist Facts

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