For the city of New Orleans, festivals—and most celebrations in general—tend to revolve around an essential cultural trifecta: food, music, and the arts. Whether it’s bigger, ticketed festivals like New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest or Voodoo Music Experience, or smaller, free fests like the two being held this weekend, they all sample the best the city has to offer in each of these three cultural categories.
This weekend, October 12-14th, downtown New Orleans hosts two different free festivals that attract visitors and locals alike each fall. Louisiana Seafood Festival celebrates the taste and quality of the state’s world-renowned under-the-sea delicacies, and the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival combines genres of music and food that have been slow-cooked to perfection in restaurants and venues around the city.
At Woldenberg Riverfront Park on the Mississippi River, stages of live music, rows of food tents, and strips of artist booths converge to support local seafood eateries and artists alike. From fish, shrimp, and crabs to oysters, crawfish, and other seafood eats, just about every edible underwater creature available in the Gulf of Mexico and local waters will be represented.
Some of the most popular dishes include seafood gumbo, shrimp remoulade, crawfish etouffee, truffled seafood salad, fried oyster almondine, alligator sausage, and the long, winding line for Drago’s famous and beloved charbroiled oysters on the half shell. In addition to fine food, live music will keep diners entertained, plus live food demonstrations from famous chefs, including John Besh, Michelle McRaney, Cory Bahr, and more.
In Lafayette Square, steps from the St. Charles Streetcar line, Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival features blues musicians from around the Mississippi Delta, including this year’s headliners Keb Mo, Latimore, Clarence Carter, Sugar Blue, Chris Thomas King, and other local luminaries. There is also an oral history tent in the NORD Theater of Gallier Hall across the street where you can learn about blues music and history straight from the source as a host of blues legends take the stage to share their stories.
Barbecue may not seem like traditional New Orleans fare, but as with any other type of food, local chefs have found a way to make it delicious with the city’s own unique twist. Enjoy smoked pork cakes or bbq pulled pork over grits from Squeal BBQ, or pulled pork, smoked brisket, or smoked chaurice sandwiches from The Joint, one of the city’s most renowned barbecue restaurants.