The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park’s youth living history volunteer group, Recognizing Our Roots (ROR), attended the 42nd Los Islenos Fiesta at The Los Islenos Museum & Village in St. Bernard Parish, LA to bring history back to life.
At the Los Islenos Museum, the heritage and culture of the immigrants of the Canary Islands is preserved along with a village that is still well maintained. The locals of St. Bernard Parish, folks from neighboring Parishes, and even people from Canada attended this exciting fiesta. The aroma of grilled oysters and Cajun seasonings blanketed the fiesta while well known entertainers from the Canary Islands showcase their talents through traditional dances and music performances.
Annually, ROR gets invited to set-up a historic camp at The Los Islenos Museum for the fiesta. This year, Brianna and I are head Mentors for The Recognizing Our Roots program, and we coordinated with our youth living history volunteers to share their weekend free-time with us. The ROR volunteers helped educate the public about 17th Century pastimes as the bulk of our interpretive opportunity. As expected, visitors were curious about what characters we were portraying and where we were from. It’s always interesting to get into the details of who and where because when we are in living dress- we have a different story to tell as a historic interpreter. Usually, I tell the audience, “We are a youth living history group called Recognizing Our Roots from The Chalmette Battlefield,” and then I will go into the specifics of who is playing what role. I portrayed a Free Woman of Color, Brianna, Sarah, and Avie portrayed Tennessee Camp-followers, and Dean and Brett portrayed Tennessee Militia-men. Traditionally, our roles are of men and women who fought or served during The Battle of New Orleans circa 1815, but it’s always a good interpretive challenge for us when we go to community festivals that aren’t exactly “park related”. It’s enjoyable to bring our youth volunteers to outreach events outside of their normal interpretive setting at The Chalmette Battlefield because it gives Brianna and I the chance to help them develop their interpretive skills in different settings. The most enjoyable thing is it to be able to watch their confidence strengthen throughout the day; Brianna and I get to step back and let our volunteers run their own show.