Lafayette Is Full of Surprises for Meetings Groups

Lafayette, meetings
Tabasco pepper mash; photo credit: McIlhenny Co.

Every year, just as Mardi Gras celebrations crank up the ‘flavor’ of New Orleans, another variation of the event is mellowing people out in Lafayette.

“Mardi Gras, for us, is still a religious holiday,” explains Lafayette Travel’s Senior Sales Director, Jess Henry. “You’ll see people on horseback riding to farmers markets collecting ingredients for gumbo, and the streets are filled with all ages before it all quiets down ahead of Lent.” All in all, about 200,000 people opt for this kind of Mardi Gras every year.  And sure, there’s the beads, marching bands and a lot of food and entertainment too. Take the Rock’n’Bowl, for example. Jazz, zydeco and more to the tune of the occasional strike and 7-10 split. Lafayette, Louisiana’s, kaleidoscopic-like culture also ensures plenty of food tours for visiting meetings and incentives groups. The “Seafood King of America” was recently crowned here by the reigning Seafood Queen, and the Bayou Bounty food trail ensures representation for the most discerning of palates—boudin balls and crawfish bread to artichoke oysters.

During Mardi Gras in Lafayette, “You’ll see people on horseback riding to farmers markets collecting ingredients for gumbo, and the streets are filled with all ages before it all quiets down ahead of Lent.”

“Music, food, culture—Lafayette is about the soul,” says Mike Roebuck, chief sales officer for Lafayette Travel. Roebuck says swap tours are a fun experience for groups with a little downtime on their hands, but for a unique pre- or post-event experience, consider a jaunt to Avery Island. “Tabasco sauce has been bottled here for the past five generations,” naturally. Groups can tour the McIlhenny family’s red pepper farms, Tabasco plant and museum and experience tastings in the Tabasco Wing Lab.

If this isn’t adventurous enough for your group, have them roll up their sleeves for cooking classes and then taste their authentic Cajun dishes in the on-site restaurant. Avery Island is also home to the 170-acre semitropical green expanse, Jungle Gardens. The wild at heart in your group will relish in the rolling landscape draped in Spanish moss, abundant wildlife and unexpected reflection areas like bamboo forests, bird sanctuaries and a meditation shrine housing a 900-year-old Buddha statue. Needless to say, outdoor events are regularly booked here.

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