Mike LeBlanc was born in the middle of the 20th century in the most Cajun of all small towns, Abbeville in Vermilion Parish, as judged by the number of the town’s French speakers. He attend USL (now ULL) and graduated in History in 1974. He completed a master’s in Anthropology in 1983 at the University of Kentucky while working with Dean Louder for Projet Louisiane’s study of Texas Cajuns. His work was funded by the Ford Foundation. He is now employed as one of the senior planners with the newly formed Acadiana Planning Commission serving Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry St. Martin and Vermilion Parishes. He is currently planning a commercial, residential, industrial, and wildlife preservation development in a floodway and wetland that utilizes some of the same technics used the Acadians in Acadie in the 18th century. Cajundome Convention Center, October 9, Hall A, 10:30 am to 11:45 am
Mavis Arnaud Fruge is a native of Arnaudville, LA. and fiercely proud of her French language and Cajun heritage. The Opelousas-St. Landry Parish Chamber of Commerce named her its 2010 “Woman of the Year” for her many volunteer efforts. Mavis has worked in many activities related to the arts and Fire and Water – Le Feu et l’Eau Winter Festival.
Mavis is a CODOFIL board member. She welcomes many French visitors and has hosted French exchange students many times. In 2005 she started the Arnaudville La Table Française and in 2013 began a French Table for the residents at J.W. Morrow Nursing Home where the many old French-speaking residents are happy to exchange stories. Cajundome Convention Center, October 9, Hall A, 1:15 pm to 2:00 pm
William Joseph Thibodeaux is a native of Rayne, Louisiana and now resides in Lafayette, LA. In 1970 after completing his obligation to the military and earning his high school GED, he hired on with Southern Pacific Railroad. He will work for 43 years as an engineering manager for different railroad companies. Over the years, William collected stories from railroaders of various crafts and departments. He began writing stories and publishing them in several local publications. He continues writing mostly non-fictional articles with historical significance to the Acadiana area. He interviews interesting people both in French and English, and manages a French table in Rayne, Louisiana, where their events, first audio-recorded, now videoed will be donated to the Center for Francophone Studies at ULL. Cajundome Convention Center, October 9, Hall A, 2:30 pm to 3:00 pm