The Vincent Family Association
By Charlie Vincent, Special to the Kaplan Herald 25 Aug., 1999
Kaplan, Louisiana was awarded the location site to host the Vincent Family
International Reunion in conjunction with Congres Mondial-Louisiana 1999
which was held last weekend.
The oldest reunion participant in attendance was Sosthene Vincent from Gueydan, La. at the age of 95. Eight different states and one foreign country were represented by people who attended the two full days of reunion activities.
For those that attended the Vincent Reunion, it was filled with activities and information about family descendants.
Friday, August 13 began at 9 a.m. with coffee and donuts. Opening ceremonies had the Pledge of Allegiance and opening prayer by the Rev. Sammy Theriot.
Across the front of the stage in the Kaplan Recreation Center, a genealogy tracking chart stretching nearly 80 feet long could be found.
The Friday's activities were centered around Louisiana Mardi Gras. There were purple, green and gold balloons on the tables, Mardi Gras ribbons adorned the decorative greenery and Mardi Gras flags hung from the rafters. The Kaplan Recreation Center was filled with the festive mood as Mardi Gras music played throughout the day. One of the major highlights of the reunion was a Mardi Gras parade, held inside the center. Three mini-floats (large rice carts decorated in traditional Mardi Gras colors) held children dressed in costume who were chosen in the crowd. The parade was led by Donella LaBry dressed in costume carrying the Krewe of Chic A la Pie banner and Shirley Herpin and her husband, Luddy, dressed as queen and king.
The children on the floats (as well as the revelers who followed) threw Mardi Gras beads and doubloons to the many guests. Two guests were chosen from the audience to be named honorary king and queen of the day. Clarence Evans of Somerville, Texas served as honorary King Gumbo IXII and Gail V. Adams of Little Rock, Arkansas served as honorary Queen Jambalaya IXIV. Following the parade, Lynn Vincent entertained the crowd with traditional Cajun comedy. The out of state patrons were impressed with his talent.
The introduction of a special guest, Jean Francois Vincent from Brossard, Quebec, Canada, gave the reunion informative details about Vincent Family genealogy.
As Jean walked throughout the crowd asking who was their favorite pop singer, he then informed the crowd of two famous singers with Vincent family connections. These two present day entertainers are Celine Dion and Madonna.
Clyde Vincent from Beaumont, Texas spoke on the history of the Acadiens, Joseph and Pierre Vincent, and their hardship travels from Nova Scotia to Louisiana.
Lt. Governor Kathleen Blanco spoke to the crowd abut family spirits associated with these family reunions. Blanco welcomed all the visitors from other states and hoped for an enjoyable stay in Louisiana. Blanco also presented a special award to the Vincent Family from Governor Foster.
Kaplan City Councilman Warren Whaley presented a proclamation declaring August 14 as the Vincent Reunion Day. Whaley also presented Jean Francois Vincent of Canada, an honorary citizenship to the city of Kaplan. The evening was completed with a traditional Fais-do-do with Donny Broussard and the Louisiana Starts.
Saturday events were themed with Bastille Day as the crowd participants increased over Friday. Individuals were able to sit with Jean Francois Vincent and Clyde Vincent and determine their connection to the massive Vincent Family tree.
On hand were students from the Kaplan High School Speech Department. The presented two productions during the day of a re-enactment of the "Storming of the Bastille." These students dressed in traditional France attire of the era and gave both the French and English versions.
To carry out the Bastille theme, the center was decorated with red, white and blue balloons on the tables, French flags throughout the center and Bastille Day banners hanging from the rafters.
The afternoon was filled with the music of Louis Meaux and the Rhythm Kings. The children were entertained outside with traditional Bastille festival games. Trophies and ribbons were awarded to the winners of their respective events.
Closing ceremonies presented those involved the recognition deserved for staging one of the better family reunons associated with Congres Mondial Acadien.
Monsignor Amos Vincent with the diocese of Lake Charles gave the closing blessing.
Martin Vincent and the Lacassine Playboys capped off the evening with Cajun/French music. Completing the reunion activities, a mass was was held Sunday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in honor of the Vincent Family. Msg. Amos Vincent officiated at the mass in the French version. The weekend included guests from Rockville, Maryland; Endwell New Your; Franklin Tennessee; Burke Virginia; Frametown, West Virginia as well as the many cities from the state of Texas.
There will not be another World Congres of Acadiens in Louisiana for ten years. In the year 2004, Nova Scotia, Canada will host the next reunions. The opportunity of Vermilion Parish Vincent descendants was available to them to attend.
Although a huge success and its purpose met, organizers of the event drew mixed feelings because only 20 percent of the weekend registrars were local and Vermilion Parish attendance was at 35 percent. Organizers felt that these figures should have been doubled. An example of how the local descendants were scarce is that just as many people crossed state lines and drove over two and one half hours from Texas as there were people from the Kaplan area.
Preliminary figures show a huge crown of 300 to 400 descendants took part in the festivities.