Downtown Alive Celebrates 40th Year in Lafayette, Louisiana With Look Back at Its History
Hard to believe, but Downtown Alive! is celebrating its 40th year this year, having first kicked off in April of 1983. Since its inception, it's been a regular party in Downtown Lafayette.
With a stellar spring line-up announced earlier this year, DTA! is definitely one of the best celebrations of Lafayette for everyone to enjoy.
To celebrate, DTA! has shared the history of the event on its website. It all began when Downtown Development Director Cathy Webre and her team decided to bring a live event with music to the downtown area to bring life to it.
“Give them music, and they will come," they decided.
It launched as a "free-to-attend weekly concert series" in the heart of Acadiana, with the focus being on beverage sales, rather than tickets. It first two seasons were big successes - in 1983, there were more than 30 show featuring some of the biggest names in Louisiana music at the time - Good Rockin’ Doopsie, Zachary Richard, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Sonny Landreth.
As it enters its 40th year, they want to go bigger and better than ever.
"We’re asking 40 companies, families, and individuals to join us by donating $1,000 to help produce the Spring DTA! season" they announced on the site. "We’re calling it '40 for 40' – 40 donations of $1,000, totaling $40,000, for an EPIC celebration of 40 years!"
Companies that want to match their brand with DTA!’s 40th-year celebration can contact Amy Trahan at email@example.com for more details.
You can also read the full history below.
Little did Acadiana know that on Friday, April 8th, 1983, history would be made in Downtown Lafayette. It all started when a group of people got together to try and figure out how to bring life into Downtown Lafayette. Downtown Development Director Cathy Webre and her team had a hunch – “Give them music, and they will come.” Downtown Alive! was then born on a tiny stage in the middle of Jefferson Street with a performance from Beausoleil.
It was the first of its kind – a free-to-attend weekly concert series – in the heart of Acadiana. The concept was simple: make the music free with revenue from beverage sales. If people want to enjoy live music, they’ll buy drinks at the event. And the concept worked! The first two seasons in 1983 had more than 30 shows and featured some of Louisiana’s biggest names in music – Good Rockin’ Doopsie, Zachary Richard, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Sonny Landreth.
Over the years, crowd sizes grew, and the streets were filled on Friday nights with downtown employees, families, and live music lovers. And over time, Downtown Alive! became everyone’s favorite Friday night pastime. The concert series was just what downtown needed in the 80s and was unlike any other live music show in the area. For the first time in a long time, downtown truly became alive.
By the 90s, DTA! welcomed artists Charmaine Neville, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Henry Gray & The Cats, and many others to the stage. It was clear that the small street party everyone loved had outgrown Jefferson Street and needed a more permanent home.
Because Festival International de Louisiane was also growing, the Downtown Lafayette Unlimited (DLU) team began planning a parks network in the 90s, and when Parc International, Parc Sans Souci, and Parc de Lafayette were completed in 2003, DTA! moved to the park stages. The parks provided new amenities like restrooms, shade and a splash pad, which enhanced the live music experience.
DTA! continued to feature bands like Keith Frank, Roddie Romero, and Grammy nominees Bonsoir Catin and the Magnolia Sisters. While the names kept getting bigger and bigger, DTA! continued to support local musicians and highlight regional music.
The people of Acadiana kept Downtown Lafayette “alive” for decades when there was little to no life within the district. Because of strategic efforts from DDA and DLU leadership over the last four decades, Downtown has grown exponentially, with new residential properties, restaurants, and small businesses filling the area. DTA! not only supports Lafayette’s rich culture and live music but also supports the success of Downtown’s small businesses. Bringing large crowds downtown not just for live music but for the overall downtown experience is what has everyone returning. From shopping to grabbing a bite to eat or going out for drinks after the show, downtown has something for everyone to enjoy before or after DTA!.
What started as a small street party on Jefferson Street has evolved into a large-scale concert series attended by thousands and is still thriving 40 years later. Downtown Alive! celebrates music, culture, and everything downtown offers as Louisiana’s longest-standing FREE outdoor concert series produced by non-profit organization, Downtown Lafayette Unlimited. As we are preparing to celebrate DTA!’s 40th anniversary in March, we want to remind everyone that this concert series is free-to-attend but not free-to-produce. Sponsorships are available to help keep this 40-year tradition movin’ and groovin’. Your generous donation will allow us to secure bands, promote all DTA! events, and ensure that we can continue the tradition for many more years to come.
DTA! is 40, and we want to celebrate BIG. We’re asking 40 companies, families, and individuals to join us by donating $1,000 to help produce the Spring DTA! season. We’re calling it “40 for 40” – 40 donations of $1,000, totaling $40,000, for an EPIC celebration of 40 years! If you want to match your brand with DTA!’s 40th-year celebration, please contact Amy Trahan at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Cheers to 40 years of DTA! Mark your calendars for the 2023 spring season of DTA! as we celebrate 40 years of music, culture, and our vibrant downtown community! Join us in Downtown Lafayette EVERY Friday night in March for good drinks and an even greater time.