Even though Louisiana’s state motto is “The Sportsman’s Paradise”, I really think they should be known as “The Festival Goers Paradise”. Of course, that has less of a ring to it. But seriously…it doesn’t begin and end with Mardi Gras, y’all. Mardi Gras is just the big, flashy tip of the iceberg. This is a state of people who love music, who love to dance, and who REALLY love to eat. And drink. And where BETTER to do all those things than at a festival? I give you just a quick sampler (and their 2013 dates):
April 20-21: Angola Prison Rodeo & Arts/Crafts Fair (St. Francisville) – This is the longest running prison rodeo in the US, in operation since 1965. The Arts & Crafts Fair portion originally started as a way for the inmates to make a few extra bucks selling items they’d handmade… now the fair portion takes up all of the morning, with the rodeo starting at 2pm. Proceeds from the Angola Prison Rodeo cover rodeo expenses and supplement the Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmate Welfare Fund which provides for inmate educational and recreational supplies.
April 24-28: Festival Internationale de Louisiana (Lafayette) – Since I lived in Laffy for 3 years, this is probably my favorite. Five days, eight stages, seventy-four bands, thirty-one food vendors, and thousands of people. Fo’ free. Well—the food & drinks aren’t free, but everything else is. SEVENTY FOUR BANDS---from all over the world, and some from right at home, including a few of my faves like Marc Broussard, the Mike Dean Band, Feufollet, and Michael Juan Nunez.
April 26 – May 5: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (NOLA) – Easily Louisiana’s biggest music festival. Ten days, over 130 bands. This year’s lineup includes Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Dave Matthews, Maroon 5, The Black Keys, John Mayer, Hall & Oates, BB King, Earth Wind & Fire, Little Big Town, along with big name locals like the Neville Brothers, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Cowboy Mouth, Better than Ezra, Tab Benoit, Marc Broussard… I could go on forever. Single day tickets run around $50 ($65 at the gate), or you can buy weekend passes and VIP packages at their website.
May 22-25: New Orleans Food & Wine Experience (NOLA) - Over the past 20 years this festival has raised more than $1 million for local non-profit organizations, while showcasing local food and chefs, and national and international wines. This year in an effort to fight hunger and support culinary education, the 2013 beneficiaries will share 100% of the proceeds. Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana will receive 40% and the following will share the remaining 60%: the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation's ProStart Program, Delgado Culinary Arts School, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts’ Culinary Program, the John Folse Culinary Institute and the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. Eat for a Cause!!!!
October 2013 (dates not yet announced) Voice of the Wetlands Festival (Houma) – Here’s another free festival that runs for three days and always features one of my favorites, Tab Benoit. The festival centers around raising money and general awareness for the ever-diminishing wetlands along coastal Louisiana. I’m a big fan of the work they do, and getting to see 20+ bands for free while benefitting a good cause doesn’t hurt either.
November 1-3: The VooDoo Experience (New Orleans) – This rock festival in late fall is a total blast, and 2013 marks the 15th year. The lineup for this year hasn’t been announced yet, but past artists include Metallica, Soundgarden, Snoop Dogg, Blink 182, Black Crows, Girl Talk, Fatboy Slim, Paulo Nutini, Muse, Lenny Kravitz, etc.
And so, we move on to the giveaway! One lucky reader is going to receive the prize pack shown in the photo below!
- 2013 12-month calendar featuring photos from all across Louisiana (taken by me, so I don’t infringe on someone’s copyrights), with the dates of major festivals and holidays.
- Authentic New Orleans Mardi Gras Beads and a Doubloon from the Krewe of Caesar
- Three discount cards from my New Orleans Drink Deck for three of my favorite New Orleans spots: Cure, The Bulldog, and Superior Grill ($22+ value). And these cards have NO EXPIRATION, so use them as inspiration for planning your next trip down south! Or, if you have no plans to EVER visit NOLA (so sad…) keep them as a memento, or sell ‘em on Ebay. :) Save $10 at Superior Grill, and 20% at Bulldog and Cure. Great food and cocktails, peeps.
How do you win?
- Use the buttons above on the left to follow this blog via Facebook, Pinterest, Feedburner, or Google (one entry per follow)
- Leave a comment here, or on Facebook or Pinterest telling me your favorite festival food. Whether it be funnel cake, candied apples, walking tacos, or deep fried Snickers—I want to know! (Earns another entry)
- Winner will be chosen at random! Deadline for entries is Friday, February 22, 2013 at 8pm CST! Winner will be announced here and on Facebook (so that would be a good way to follow if you don’t already!)