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In French Fiddle Tunes and Tall Tales: The French Creole Story of Illinois

A Road Scholar Program by Dennis Stroughmatt

Beginning in 1699 with the building of villages like Cahokia and Kaskaskia along the Mississippi River, French colonists from Western France and Quebec would merge with the native populations of modern-day Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana to create a Creole culture that is still unique from its cousins in Louisiana and Canada today. As this early Illinois population grew through the 18th century and changed the Illinois landscape to one with a distinct French flavor, it would eventually leave its legacy through not only town names and land marks, but also songs, language, stories, food, and even the first lieutenant governor of Illinois, Pierre Menard. Via 300 hundred year old traditions like the annual “La Guillannee” French New Year tradition, and “Le Mardi Gras,” this exciting program will take the listener on a fascinating trip through The Illinois Country from both a historical and cultural perspective, highlighting the enduring French identity of places like Prairie du Rocher and Cahokia through ancient French folktales, haunting ballads, and foot stomping fiddle tunes.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Benjamin Pollard at benjamin.pollard@illinois.gov.