(WAFB) - When the Festival International de Louisiane takes place in Lafayette April 25 through 29 of 2018, it will celebrate its 32nd year. And Lisa Stafford will fete her 20th year as programming director of the world-renowned fest.
This week, Stafford stepped into rare company when a delegation from France arrived during La Fete du Festival to award Stafford the "Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres." In English, that's "the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters." Festival organizers tell us the award, established in 1957, recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and around the world. Previous recipients of the award include Zachary Richard, Dr. Barry Ancelet, Eric Clapton, and Bono.
At a reception in her honor prior to La Fête du Festival, presented by Home Bank, the Festival International fundraiser, and the Consul General of France in Louisiana, Mr. Vincent Sciama presented the award in the name of the President of the French Republic. "With your hard work, the festival is known around the world and is a cornerstone of francophonie in the United States, demonstrating the vitality of French culture and heritage in Louisiana," Mr. Sciama stated. "I look forward to experiencing this festival for the first time next Spring!"
Over her many years as programming director, Stafford was able to draw in thousands of international and local musicians. She also showcased the local Cajun and Creole musicians who are part of America's rich legacy of Francophone music.
"I had kind of given up on meeting someone like her in the music business and there she was, a beautiful human being with unforgiving ears and total dedication to her craft," said Pascale Danae, member of Paris, France band, Delgres.
"Building bridges between artists and cultures in the most enjoyable way, our Godmother in the U.S., thank you, Lisa Stafford."
Stafford stood with the delegation and festival figures for an official photograph, and she was the only one wearing the ribbon that signifies her treasured position in the hearts of grateful French culture fans. "To be honored for something that I am passionate about and love doing is both rewarding and humbling at the same time," said Stafford. "I am so fortunate to have a job that has taken me to so many places, met so many people, and experience so many cultures."