Celebrate Local Culture at Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo

17:23 May 17, 2019
By: Emma Van Wynen

The 14th annual Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo festival will take place this weekend in Bayou St. John. Beginning today, Friday, May 17, this three-day festival invites people of all ages to come and spend some of their weekend celebrating fabulous musicians, eating delicious food, and admiring local art. With four stages, 30+ musicians, 25+ food vendors, and the artwork of 60+ local artisans, this small-scale music festival offers something for every demographic, encouraging the development of a tight-knit community, not just within Mid-City, but in relation to the rest of New Orleans. You can enjoy all of this while floating around with friends in the Bayou St. John waterway, escaping that hot NOLA summer sun.

The music lineup this year features incredible artists that are largely based in Louisiana. Enjoy timeless music from fusion artists mixing genres, like R&B, jazz, soul, funk, hip hop, rock, and more. If you missed Cowboy Mouth or Tab Benoit at Jazz Fest this year, no problem! These two bands will be closing out the festival on Saturday and Sunday nights, respectively. In addition to these, Bayou Boogaloo performers include Amanda Shaw, Raw Oyster Cult, The Fuzz: Tribute to the music of The Police, Cole Williams Band, Anders Osborne, and many more.

Bayou Boogaloo hosts a mouthwatering selection of food vendors every year, with 2019 being no different. The majority of vendors you will see lined up along the Bayou St. John waterway this weekend will be celebrating Louisiana's Cajun and Creole cuisines. City favorites like Blue Oak BBQ and Boucherie will be there, along with more authentically Cajun vendors, such as Bonafried, Any O'Cajun, and Frytastic!. But if, for some reason, you aren't feeling Louisiana food at this Lousianian celebration festival, Bayou Boogaloo also has everything from Vietnamese to Jamaican to German cuisine vendors, all adding to the diversity of this festival. The vendors' menus have already been decided, so log on to thebayouboogaloo.com to see what they'll have for purchase.

The Bayou Boogaloo festival is run by a non-profit organization called Friends of Bayou St. John. For many years, the goal of the festival has been to promote community awareness and closeness in the wake of Katrina devastation, especially in the Mid-City area. Reinvigorating the people, rebuilding the city, and reconnecting neighborhoods were all immediate goals for Bayou Boogaloo. Now, the festival celebrates Louisiana and New Orleans culture and heritage, while simultaneously advocating for better recreational and living standards for families living in Mid-City.

This year, Friends of Bayou St. John have had to organize the festival a little bit differently than in past. The festival has been free since it began in 2006, thriving off of volunteer work and donations. But for the very first time, and because of an increase in land-use fees, the festival has been forced to charge an entrance fee in order to keep from losing money. Now, it will cost $10 at the gate for any one-day pass, and $20 for a three-day wristband with unlimited entries (which you can purchase ahead of time online).

So, whether you're floating around in an innertube on the waterway or dancing from stage to stage at Bayou Boogaloo this year, make sure to stop by and support your local musicians, food vendors, and artists.

Fun Fact: For those who may not know, boogaloo (or more accurately, bugalú) has played a much larger role in history than merely as some fun alliteration in the festival title! Boogaloo is a Latin dance and music genre that grew out of mambo and cha cha, the genres that dominated New York City in the 1960s. Boogaloo is a fusion of African rhythm and blues, Cuban beats, and a combination of American influence and instrumentation.

Bayou Boogaloo takes place Friday, May 17, through Sunday, May 19, at Bayou St. John and Lafitte Street, thebayouboogaloo.com.

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