Food and fun on the river and the bayou this weekend

Don Ames
September 20, 2019 - 10:56 am

Fried Chicken, crabs and meat pies top the menus at this weekend's festivals. And, they've all grown from humble beginnings

New Orleans' National Fried Chicken Festival quickly outgrew its initial site at Lafayette Square.

"Yeah, we're at Woldenberg Riverfront Park now," says festival founder Cleveland Spears. "So, we've outgrown our footprint by about five times. It gives people a chance to stretch out and they really enjoy being right here on the river. It keeps things nice and cool with the breeze coming off the river."

He says there's also more chicken than ever at this year's festival. Over 30 restaurants from across the country and Louisiana will be offering their fried fare through Sunday. 

And, Spears is expecting quite a crowd. 

"Last year we hosted over 175,000 guests. This year, we're planning for, maybe, 200,000 people to pass through Woldenberg Park over the three-day weekend."

Of course, there'll be live music at the park all three days.

The St. Tammany Crab Festival has also grown. So, spokeswoman Kristen Luther says, there's a lot of crab dishes to enjoy on the scenic shore of Bayou Bonfouca in Slidell.  

"We doubled up on food booths this year. So, there's not going to anything, really, that you won't be able to find there.

She promises quite a seafood feast provided by quite a few vendors.

"Probably about 30. There's a good bit. We didn't have that many last year, so we're going to have a lot of food."

Or, you can travel to Natchitoches for the Meat Pie Festival, promising a 'lotta, hotta meat pies,' music and more. Balloon rides, children’s activities, food vendors, arts & crafts. The festival is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the summer of ’69!!?  

Saturday's NOLA on Tap is the largest beer fest in the region. Hundreds of national, local and home-brewed beers are available for tasting and there's food, live music, art, games, a homebrewers competition and awards. Noon-7 p.m. $5. New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds, 1701 Wisner Blvd.

Friday and Saturday, it's the Mamou Cajun Music Festival. The two-day fest offers traditional Cajun music performances, dancing, food, contests and races including egg throwing, a foot race, sack races, a boudin-eating contest, a beer-drinking contest, a washboard tournament, arm wrestling and greased-pole climbing. Mamou Recreational Center, Highway 31 and Main Street, Mamou.

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