At 93 years old, Merlin Fontenot was the oldest member of the Vermilionville family. Merlin was a time-honored master of the Cajun Fiddle and promoter of Acadian culture. He began playing the fiddle when he was only seven years old, but even in his old age said that he was "still learning." He never learned to read music, but learned to play "by ear" as a boy growing up in Eunice, Louisiana. Merlin was a fixture at Cajun dance halls by the age of 15.
Merlin's skill earned him much recognition, having won fiddle championships as far away as Florida, where he performed in front of crowds of more than 15,000 people. He performed twice on stage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee and was honored as a master musician in a music series presented by Harold Bernard.
Merlin was with Vermilionville for more than twenty years and was been known to draw many returning guests who, years later, requested to see this Cajun legend. He enjoyed playing music and sharing his knowledge of Acadian culture in the school house (l'Ecole), where he engaged young and old visitors alike and encouraged his audience to share in his enthusiasm through participation. Merlin believed there is no place in the world like south Louisiana and said there was no where he would rather be.