End of the Line
If you are down in southwest Louisiana targeting redfish and want to find an unusual watering hole to quench your thirst, they don’t come any quirkier that Fred’s Lounge in Mamou. This Evangeline Parish establishment dates back to 1946, when Fred Tate opened the bar. He continued to run Fred’s until his death in 1992. That’s when his widow Sue Vasseur took over as manager, running the place up until 2011. She is regularly referred to as Tante Sue de Mamou (translating to Aunt Sue of Mamou).
Though no longer in charge, Tante Sue still drops in regularly on Saturday mornings. That’s another point that makes Fred’s unusual – it’s a bar that is only open on Saturday mornings! From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the bar serves bloody Marys, while a live band plays Cajun dance music.
The only exception is during Mardi Gras, when the music can last a full eight hours.
The action has been continuously broadcast since 1962 by a remote radio crew from KVPI 1050 from Ville Platte. That broadcast is emceed exclusively in Cajun French, honoring the region’s Arcadian heritage.
Out on the dance floor you’ll find local farmers and their ladies doing the Cajun two step, while arrayed around the room tourist from all over the nation, as well as places like Canada, Japan and the Balkan nations, sip their drinks.
A plaque unveiled on the outside wall of Fred’s back in 1996 by then Governor Mike Foster declared the watering hole the launch point for Evangeline Parish’s French renaissance. The bar also is credited as the site where the idea for reviving the Courir de Mardi Gras tradition took place. That event involves revelers in festive masks and on horseback riding through the town on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday each year.
Just be sure to arrive early on Saturday morning. The room is not overly spacious and you are sure to have plenty of company at the bar or on the dance floor.
Saturday morning at Fred’s Lounge is a “don’t miss” event in this Cajun region.