Spring Food Festivals

00:00 March 26, 2012
By: Emily Hingle

Louisiana is both known for its food and frequent festivals. The two are often combined and celebrants will gather to honor the delicacies that they love. The foods honored are often unique to the state or areas surrounding the Gulf. Almost all of the festivals include live music, pageants, family fun, and food meticulously prepared by vendors. Whatever you're in the mood for this Spring, there's a fest for it.
Due to the unusually warm winter, Ponchatoula's strawberries were able to be harvested for the past months, but that hasn't stopped the annual Strawberry Festival from being highly anticipated. The lovely downtown area of Ponchatoula, the strawberry capital of the world, is about a 45 minute drive from the Causeway in Mandeville. While the fest features live bands, a poker run, rides and games, most people stay focused on the bounty of delectable foods that involve the strawberries. Lots of vendors sell items like strawberry-topped funnel cakes, deep-fried strawberries, and the best strawberry daiquiris you've ever had. The festival runs from April 13 - 15 and is free.

One festival that is receiving attention is Breaux Bridge's Crawfish Fest. The large festival has been noted by travel sites and magazines, and even named Festival of the Year by the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals and a Top Hotspot by TripAdisor.com. Vendors will be selling the namesake crustacean in any way you can fathom: fried, boiled, in an etoufee, bisque, boudin, pie, jambalaya, and tasty crawdogs. They don't just eat their crawfish either; they play with their food during the Crawfish Race where contestants coax their racer down the track for the win. There's also a Crawfish Eating Contest in which the most pounds of crawfish eaten in 45 minutes determines the winner. A big draw to the fest is the Crawfish Etouffee Cook-off on Sunday where you can sample all of the entries. Crawfish Fest is held on May 4 through 6. If you can't make it out to Breaux Bridge, Tulane University will be holding Crawfest on April 21 from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. As Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, and more bands perform, more than 16,000 pounds of crawfish will be boiled for the consumption of students and attendees.

Gonzales is the Jambalaya Capital of the World, and hosts jambalaya cook-offs during Jambalaya Festival on May 24 through 27. The contestants can make their entry in the traditional contest using chicken rice, peppers, hot sauce, garlic, celery, salt, pepper and onions, and they can only cook in a cast iron pot; some of which can be yards wide. They also have a mini-pot contest for children and teens. Judges will be looking for flavor and the proper consistency.

Two festivals don't just focus on one dish; they include all of the fare that makes us exceptional. Plaquemines Parish acknowledges their main livelihood with the Seafood Festival that is held on May 17 through 19. They will serve all the local favorites like shrimp, oysters, crab, and gator, but some dishes stand out, such as Fried Tomatoes with Shrimp Sauce, Shrimp Remoulade Wrap, and Crawfish and Corn Bisque. In Lake Charles, the Taste of Louisiana Fest during Memorial Weekend on May 26 embraces the Cajun, Creole, and Native-American heritage of southern Louisiana, and the food served reflects it. Vendors will come from all over the state serving their regional favorites. There will also be an appearance by Chef Carolyn Shelton at the Chef's Corner, and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will teach the history of Louisiana food at the Louisiana Culture Corner. This festival also has the distinction of being an official event of the Louisiana Bicentennial Celebration. And be sure to explore the contestants in the Best BBQ Pork Ribs Cookoff.
There are so many reasons to have a party here, and you can certainly find one to that fits your taste this spring.

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