With heavy hitters like Grammy winning Louisiana icon Wayne Toups and zydeco superstar Lil Nate lighting up the DETEL Stage, the return of AAMF / Avoyelles Arts & Music Festival (after a two year hiatus due to the pandemic), is destined to be this summer’s hottest staycation! Celebrating its 10th anniversary, AAMF is a day long, fun filled day for the entire family that kicks off at 10:00am Monday, July 4th, on and around the grounds surrounding Broken Wheel Brewery, located at 109 Tunica Drive East (Highway 1) in Marksville.
As the old story goes, Marksville was settled by a merchant trader who traveled the area selling his wares to the local Native American tribes and French settlers when a broken wheel on his wagon stranded the trader prompting him to throw his hands in the air and declare, “That’s it, I’m not going nowhere else.” Over the years, the moniker “Broken Wheel” has stuck with Marksville and as a business founded on the culture of this community, Jonathan Knoll and Chris Pahl adopted it as their own. Unlike most brew pubs where food is just an afterthought, Broken Wheel Brewery serves up a full menu filled with authentic Cajun flare and seasoning by Chef Trent Bonnette. Today, Broken Wheel boasts 10 brews on tap at all times. “We knew what our customers like to drink, so we make those beers,” says Jonathan. Broken Wheel’s frosty brews are sure to hit the spot on a hot Louisiana July 4th!
“We started AAMF in 2012 as a way to add to the parade and unite the community through all the aspects we love about Louisiana…the music, the food, the arts,” says Allison Ravare-Augustine, president of the Avoyelles Arts Council, producer of the festival. The lineup this year does not disappoint and has a little something for everyone. In addition to headliners Wayne Toups and Lil Nate, festival goers will enjoy the high spirited funk of one of New Orleans’s premier brass bands the Brass-a-Holics. A roster of regional musicians anchor the day-long event, including rock titans “Anxiety” and the “Hot Sauce Band”, known for bringing a soulful and fun vibe to the party. Rounding out this year’s all star lineup is Alexandria’s own Josh Hyde. Music lovers are definitely in for a treat!
Things get off to a sweet start with the 10th Annual Baking Competition, beginning at 8:00am inside Broken Wheel Brewery. Bakers please submit entries at 8:00am, with Judging set for 8:45am. Winners will be announced and awards presented thereafter. For more information or to enter the Baking Contest, please call Connie Gonzales at (318) 500-9840.
The popular AAMF Car, Truck & Jeep Show, presented by Daigrepont Metal Recycling, returns at 9:00am until 2:00pm at First Guaranty Bank parking lot (across from DETEL stage). Registration is $35.00, with all proceeds to benefit Avoyelles Council On Aging and Shriner’s Children’s Hospital. Cash prizes and trophies will be awarded to the winners. For more information or to enter, please call (318) 305-0105.
Opening ceremonies begin at 10:00am featuring Jamie Ducote and the Tunica-Biloxi Singers and Legend Keepers, followed by the kick off of Louisiana’s longest running Fourth of July Parade. For free registration to ride in the parade, call the Marksville Chamber of Commerce at (318) 253-8599.
The Avoyelles Arts Council has created a Fourth of July village on the grounds surrounding Broken Wheel, complete with arts and crafts vendors, plenty of activities and games for the kids, food vendors of every kind, a beer garden and more! Throw a firecracker lineup of live music into the mix, and “The 4th” in “da parish” is the only place to be! For general festival information, including vendor registration, call (318) 264-9392 or (318) 240-3495.
Josh Hyde—whose latest release, “Parish Blues”, is currently topping Louisiana charts and getting lots of airplay on blues radio—kicks off the day’s entertainment slate at 11:00am. Josh is best known for his original Louisiana music. Blues legend Sonny Landreth describes Josh’s music as “funky, atmospheric and soulful.” You won’t want to miss it!
In between the Hot Dog and Cherry Pie Eating Contests, which start at 12:30pm and 2:00pm, respectively, New Orleans-based Brass-a-Holics brass band will take to the stage. Since 2010, the Brass-A-Holics have been taking their unique sound around the world. Steeped in the deep musical culture of New Orleans, the band brings a heavy dose of go-go funk to the New Orleans brass sound. The band consists of core New Orleans brass elements—trumpet, trombone, saxophone—and adds a full drum set, percussion, keyboard, bass and electric guitar, giving the band near limitless options to explore new sonic territory. At 2:15pm, the Hot Sauce Band will perform, followed by the announcement of the Car Show winners at 3:15pm ahead of the 3:30pm Watermelon Eating Contest. Rock band “Anxiety” will bring the crowd to its feet starting at 3:45pm.
Lil Nate & the Zydeco Big Timers will take to the DETEL Stage at 5:00pm. Born Nathan Williams, Jr., Lil Nate has performed on some of the biggest stages, including at the Superdome for the prestigious 2013 Bayou Classic, wowing the audience during halftime with his original hit, “Go Hard or Go Home,” along with the renowned Grambling State Marching Band.
Nate has been surrounded by the sounds of zydeco since the tender age of just 5 years old. Music is in his blood. He got his start playing the rubboard in his father’s band, the legendary “Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas”. Nate continued to learn the art of zydeco at his father’s knee, eventually picking up a pair of drumsticks and later the accordion. Nate began his recording career as a young teen. As a high school freshman, he recorded his first album with the Big Timers, “Zydeco Ballin”. Since that first album, he hasn’t looked back, becoming one of the most sought after zydeco artists today.
Beyond a highly regarded touring musician, Nate is also a master of the single note and triple row accordion. Between gigs, he serves as an instructor for UL’s “traditional music” program which is part of the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Endowed Chair in Traditional Music. He teaches students in the Zydeco Ensemble, which completes each semester with a public showcase of their new skills. Fans can cool down after Lil Nate and the Zydeco Big Timers with the official Beer Drinking Contest at 6:15pm.
At 6:30pm, the day’s live music culminates with Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, Gulf Coast Hall of Fame, and Cajun French Music Hall of Fame member, and Grammy Award winner, Wayne Toups. One of the most exciting musicians to come out of Acadiana, Wayne Toups has been nicknamed “the Cajun”. His strong stage presence is underscored by his flashy style on the accordion, performing a brand of music he calls “zydecajun”. As the name suggests, his music fuses the traditional Cajun country sound with the bluesier sound of zydeco, while adding a rock & roll twist. Picking up the accordion in his early teens, Toups cut his first single in 1975, and became a Louisiana star thanks to his hot-wired brand of Cajun music. Toups was one of the first Cajun acts to be signed to a major label, and his 1989 album, “Blast from the Bayou”, took his music to a nationwide audience. Playing up to 200 dates a year, Toups maintained a loyal audience even after he began recording for smaller labels, rocking hard with albums like “Back to the Bayou” and “Whoever Said It Was Easy”. Toups earned a Grammy Award for 2012’s “The Band Courtbouillon” (a collaboration with fellow Cajun stars).
A native of Crowley, Toups started playing accordion at 13 and soon headed for the stage, performing live every chance he got. With his energetic fusion of roots rock and traditional Louisiana sounds as well as dashes of soul and classic rock, Toups created a sound that appealed to younger listeners as well as fans of classic Cajun and zydeco. His rock & roll style and primarily English lyrics had an instant appeal for a new mainstream audience, as well as Cajun music aficionados open to something new. As his “zydecajun” sound swept through the South, caught wind of his success, signing him to a record contract and releasing the album Zydecajun in 1985. Toups has appeared on soundtracks for television and films, including Louisiana classic “Steel Magnolias”. Wayne is a perennial favorite at Jazz Fest in New Orleans.
Festival grounds will close at 8:00pm just in time for a dazzling fireworks display on Tunica-Biloxi grounds, launching near Paragon Casino Resort, approximately two miles down Highway 1 from the festival. The fireworks are presented by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, Paragon Casino Resort, and the City of Marksville Fire Department. The spectacular display will begin at nightfall and is the perfect way to close out a fun-filled Independence Day in Avoyelles.
The Avoyelles Arts & Music Festival is free and open to the public and is proudly sponsored by Title Sponsors DETEL and State Representative Daryl Deshotel, Paragon Casino Resort and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe in addition to many local and corporate sponsors. We appreciate your support and spirit of community!