Story by Alexandra Smith
Restoring the traditions of Lakeview Park & Beach- Package
Video by Alexandra Smith
The new owners of Lakeview Park & Beach reintroduce Cajun heritage to a cultural landmark.
Lakeview Park & Beach is a newly renovated RV park located 3 miles north of Eunice, Louisiana. Although the park may look like an updated version of itself from its earlier years, its new owners, Lance Pitre, sisters Bonnie Pitre and Laura Pitre Rodriguez, and Laura’s husband, Toby Rodriquez, are determined to keep its unique traditions alive.
After it was abandoned for years and then destroyed by Hurricane Lili in 2002, the Pitre’s and Rodriguez’s decided to buy the condemned park and restore its glory days status.
Since it reopened in September 2009, the park is constantly adding new attractions to its grounds.
By preserving some of the park’s old traditions the owners hope to attract cultural tourists looking for an authentic Cajun experience in southern Louisiana.
Preserving past traditions
From the mid-1960s through the 1980s, the park was considered the leading campground in the tri-parish region made up of Evangeline, Acadia and St. Landry parishes.
According to Lakeview’s co-owner Bonnie Pitre, the park was also widely known for booking prominent Cajun musicians such as Nathan Abshire, Dewey Balfa, Dennis McGee and Marc Savoy for the weekend dances.
“Eunice is kind of the hub for Cajun music,” she said. “A lot of great Cajun musicians came from here.”
One of the main buildings on the grounds is the newly constructed barn, which now hosts live music every Saturday night since the park’s dance hall is in the process of being restored to its original glory.
To Bonnie, the dances in the old, rustic barn add a certain character to the park’s charm.
“Its like an old honky tonk, just like they used to have back in the old days,” she explained. “It’s like time traveling to a simpler time and we’re trying to keep that essence.”
One way the owners are staying true to the park’s roots is by being very particular about the bands they book.
According to the park’s co-owner Laura Pitre Rodriguez, they try to stay with Cajun, swamp pop, zydeco and country musicians.
“Since we’ve started the dances again musicians such as Geno Delafose, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Horace Trahan & The Ossun Express, James Dupré, and many more have performed at the barn,” she said. “These musicians seem to attract people of all ages, which is a good sign for our future.”
Another good sign for the park’s future is the return of the park’s swimming hole, one of its most popular attractions.
“It’s almost impossible to hear someone tell a story about the old days at the park without it involving the swimming hole,” said Laura.
Although the beach played a huge role in Lakeview’s past, it was not top priority to the new owners when it came to fixing it up.
“It wasn’t until we began to see such a high demand for the beach that we decided to put it back in,” she said. “Ever since then we have been really successful.”
According to Laura, when the beach opened in the summer of 2010, campsite bookings went from 30 percent capacity to 100% during the weekends.
“It’s just a really great thing for the community to come out and enjoy,” she said.
The one acre swimming area, filled daily with fresh well water, gives children the opportunity to feel like they are really at a beach.
“It’s a man-made beach so its almost like going to Florida in Louisiana,” Bonnie explained. “There’s even fluffy white sand.”
Other renovations of the park include:
- 95 full hook-up, big rig friendly RV sites
- One cottage that sleeps four
- Free WiFi
- 13 acre fishing lake
- Laundry room
- Family restrooms
- Basketball court