Cajun and Blues Festival returns to Simi



Eddie Money

Eddie Money

Upbeat blues and zydeco music, flavor-packed food, lively dancing and colorful garb evoke visions of Mardi Gras.

Those, in fact, are the sights that will greet the community at the 28th Annual Cajun & Blues Festival on Sat. and Sun., May 26 and 27 at Rancho Santa Susana Park at 5005 E. Los Angeles Ave. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. both days.

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise, the Cajun & Blues Festival features Cajun, creole, zydeco and blues musicians on two stages and more than 150 food, crafts and beverage vendors.

Mardi Gras-style parades will be led by the Simi Valley High School marching band at 4:35 p.m. Saturday and by a stilt walker at 4:20 p.m. Sunday.

“Cajun has really become a community staple because it’s such a community-oriented family-friendly event, and my favorite part is seeing all those smiling faces,” said Larry Borovay, Rotarian and event chair of the festival. “Between all the music, the food and vendors, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

The Cajun & Blues Festival started in 1988 as a clambake fundraiser for Rotary, but the theme was changed two years later and has since garnered national attention, making it “one of the largest festivals of its kind west of the Mississippi River,” Borovay said.

The performers likely to draw the crowds to the blues stage this year are Dave Mason, Devon Allman Project with Duane Betts, and Eddie Money, who’s best known for 1980s hits like “Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Take Me Home Tonight” and “Baby Hold On.”

And on the Cajun stage, performances by Lisa Haley & The Zydekats, Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band, and the Lost Bayou Ramblers are sure to be a hit, Borovay said.

Money, 69, of Westlake said he’s thrilled to perform at 4:40 p.m. Sunday because it’ll be like “coming home to play for friends and family.”

“I’ve got a lot of friends in Simi, Fillmore, Oxnard and Ventura and being able to do a local show like this is really exciting, because it’s a way for me to thank them for supporting me,” Money told the Acorn.

“This is my kind of event, with parents bringing their kids to enjoy the music and just hang out. Plus, I’ll be performing with my own kids, which is really great. It’s going to be so much fun.”

In addition to the entertainment, there will be a kids’ area with crafts, slides and bounce houses. Crafts are free. Individual tickets for the kids’ area cost $2 to $6, with all-day passes for $20. For kids 5 years and under, the all-day pass is $15.

Acclaimed Cajun/zydeco dance instructor AJ Gibbs, who’s toured with artists such as Willis Prudhomme, Leroy Thomas and Dexter Ardoin, will offer free lessons during breaks at the Cajun stage.

Although the tradition was suspended last year, Borovay said, event visitors will be allowed to bring their own pop-up tents to the festival. After the suspension brought negative feedback, the club decided to allow them once more.

Sixty tents will be set up around the festival site by the Rotary Club, and there’s no limit to how many each attendee can bring in. But, Borovay said, the tents must be anchored properly and chairs must have low backs so views to the stage aren’t blocked.

To date, the Rotary Club has raised more than $2 million at the Cajun festival, with all proceeds going back into the community, Borovay said.

General admission tickets are $25 purchased online or $30 at the gate. Two-day passes cost $45 and supertickets are $124 for one day or $199 for two days. Supertickets include reserved shaded seating, a backstage experience and access to a private bar. Children 12 years and under are admitted free.

Parking is free at the park, MetroLink Station and at Simi Valley High School. Shuttle services will be available. For more information, visit simicajun.org.

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