Opelousas, Louisiana

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Opelousas is a city in and the parish seat of St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, United States.[1] It lies at the juncture of Interstate 49 and U.S. Route 190. The population was 22,860 at the 2000 census. Although the 2006 population estimate was 23,222, a 2004 annexation should put the city's population above 25,000.[citation needed] Opelousas is the principal city for the Opelousas-Eunice Micropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated population of 92,178 in 2008. Opelousas is also the 3rd largest city in the Lafayette-Acadiana Combined Statistical Area, which has a population of 537,947.

At only 7.5 square miles, Opelousas is the most densely populated incorporated city in Louisiana.

Founded in 1720, Opelousas is Louisiana's 3rd oldest city. The city served as a major trading post between New Orleans and Natchitoches in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Traditionally an area of settlement by French Creoles and Acadians, Opelousas is the center of zydeco music. It celebrates its heritage at the Creole Heritage Folklife Center, one of the destinations on the new Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. It is also the location of the Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino.

The city is known as the spice capital of the world, with production and sale of seasonings such as Tony Chachere's products, Targil Seasonings, Savoie's cajun meats and products, and LouAna Cooking Oil. Opelousas was also home to one of the nation's two Yoohoo Factories until their closing.

During the tenure of Sheriff Cat Doucet from 1936-1940 and 1952-1968 that part of Opelousas along Highway 190 was a haven of gambling and prostitution. Doucet told the historian Michael Kurtz that the return of Earl Kemp Long to the governorship in 1956 allowed Doucet to permit the return of brothels and casinos and to guarantee the sheriff a take of the proceeds.[2]

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