It’s Fall Festival Season!
by Angie Kay Dilmore
Fall is the perfect season to get out and celebrate all things Louisiana! We’ve rounded up this list of events across the state to make it easy for you to find a festival that sparks your interest. Food, music, culture . . . there’s something for everyone!
Highland Jazz and Blues Festival, Shreveport, Sept. 16, 12:00 – 6:00 p.m. A free funky “party in the park” featuring local and national jazz and blues artists. Highland is a historic neighborhood just south of downtown Shreveport. www.highlandjazzandblues.org/
Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival, Sept. 15-16. The festival celebrates the famous Natchitoches Meat Pie with a variety of homemade pies, musical entertainment, Meat Pie eating contest, a River Run (hosted by the Independent Motorcycle Riders of Natchitoches), kid activities, and more. www.facebook.com/NatchitochesMeatPieFestival/
Ascension Hot Air Balloon Fest, Gonzales, Sept 22-23. Last year’s flooding forced the cancellation of this popular festival; but this year, they’re back! Experience a tethered hot air balloon ride, live music, a classic car show, and nightly fireworks. http://ascensionballooning.com/
Louisiana Sugarcane Festival, New Iberia, Sept. 20-24. Celebrate the Louisiana sugar cane industry with parades, carnival, live Cajun and Zydeco music, car show, sugar cookery, and art displays. http://hisugar.org
Alligator Festival, Luling, Sept. 21-24. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish, this festival raises funds for college scholarships. In addition to the usual rides, music, arts and crafts, there’s a golf tournament and an Alligator Stomp (a 5K run/walk along the Mississippi River Trace.) And of course, food, including alligator burgers, alligator sauce piquant, fried alligator, smoked alligator sausage, alligator tamales, seafood alligator gumbo . . . www.alligatorfestival.org/
Gretna Heritage Festival, Sept. 29 – Oct. 1. This music-intensive festival covers 25 city blocks and supports businesses and organizations within the city. Big name entertainers include Kiss, Huey Lewis and the News, and the B-52s. Explore the Italian Village, relax at the German Beer Garden, and shop the Arts and Crafts area. www.gretnafest.com.
Red River Revel Arts Festival, Shreveport, Sept. 30 – Oct. 7. Features over 100 visual artists, music of every genre, a children’s area, and food in downtown Shreveport. www.redriverrevel.com
Robert’s Cove Germanfest, Oct. 7-8. This sleepy hamlet has hosted an Oktoberfest since 1995. The community celebrates its strong German heritage with live entertainment, authentic German food, a large selection of German beers on tap, folklore demonstrations, and children’s activities. www.robertscovegermanfest.com/
Louisiana Cotton Festival, Ville Platte, Oct. 10-15. In Evangeline Parish, cotton dots the fields and the community celebrates their crop with the annual Cotton Festival. On Tuesday evening, witness the “Contradanse” (a French square dance) and at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, the “Running of the Tournoi,” a revival of an ancient French jousting game. www.louisianacottonfestival.com
Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, Lafayette, Oct. 12-15. Celebrates all things Cajun – the history, the music, the food, the language . . . enjoy a fais-do-do, the official cutting of the boudin, arts and crafts, and more. This free festival is held in Girard Park and includes six stages presenting more than 60 live bands, along with two dozen food vendors in the Bayou Food Festival and 70 artists at the Louisiana Craft Fair. Special events for 2017 include an Oct. 12 symposium at Vermilionville, Tour Des Atakapas Run & Paddle on Oct. 14, and a photo exhibit at the Hilliard University Art Museum from Sept. 8-Oct. 15. www.festivalsacadiens.com/
Andouille Festival, LaPlace, Oct. 13-15. Pass a good time and celebrate this traditional Louisiana sausage. http://www.andouillefestival.com/
Zwolle Tamale Fiesta, Oct. 12-14. The town of Zwolle celebrates its rich Spanish and Indian heritage with a three-day fiesta. The featured festival food – hot tamales, of course! Eat them or enter the tamale making contest. www.zwolletamalefiesta.com/
Wooden Boat Festival, Madisonville, Oct. 14-15. Hosted by The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum, you’ll see a wide variety of classic wooden boats. You can enter a boat-building contest. The Museum will host The National WWII Museum and their PT-305 boat at the Lightkeeper’s Cottage on the grounds of the Museum on Sunday, Oct. 15. Children under age 12 and active duty military admitted free. www.woodenboatfest.org/
Ragley Heritage and Timber Festival, Oct. 14. Includes presentations on history, pioneers, and the formation of the town and founding families. https://festivalnet.com/36382/Ragley-Louisiana/Festivals/Ragley-Heritage-and-Timber-Festival
Crowley Rice Festival, Oct. 19-22. Events include a Rice Creole and Cookery Contest, a Poker “Rice” Run for the biker set, a 5K Run/Walk for athletic types, and a Classic Car Show, for the gear heads. www.ricefestival.com
Oak Street Poboy Festival, New Orleans, Oct. 22, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Celebrate Louisiana’s favorite sandwich at this annual Po-boy festival. This year’s event will showcase regional craft breweries at the first ever Po Boy & Pint Fest. Experience the Where Y’Arts Market Event, featuring 20+ local artists with an eclectic array of handmade and one-of-a-kind artworks. Po-boys will be sold by approximately 50 po-boy vendors. Event is free and open to the public. http://poboyfest.com
Louisiana Seafood Festival, New Orleans, Oct. 27-29. Shrimp, oysters, crawfish, tuna . . . three days to celebrate Louisiana’s culture and exquisite seafood. Watch celebrity chef cooking demos, listen to music, browse the Arts Village, and eat some of the best seafood around. http://louisianaseafoodfestival.com
Voodoo Experience, New Orleans, Oct. 27-29. The Voodoo Experience is an annual New Orleans festival featuring art and “high octane” (aka hard rock/heavy metal) music. With Halloween as a seasonal backdrop, most festival-goers attend in costume. Festivities take place at New Orleans City Park. www.voodoofestival.com/
Rougarou Festival, Houma, Oct. 21-22. Only in Louisiana will you find a festival dedicated to this monstrous mythical legend. During the Krewe Ga Rou parade, you’ll see zombies, witches, ghouls, and a Rougarou Time Warp dance. Dress up in your scariest attire, join the parade, and enter the Costume Contest. At the festival’s end, community members and a “crew of witches” gather to clean the festival grounds at the “Rougarou Sweep.” http://rougaroufest.org
Yellow Rails and Rice Festival, Jennings, Nov. 1-5. Hundreds of avid birders, nature lovers, and photographers from all over the U.S. and some foreign countries flock to the area each year for a chance to see the elusive yellow rail, while simultaneously learning about the rice industry. www.facebook.com/Yellow-Rails-and-Rice-Festival
Thibodeauxville Fall Fest, Nov. 11. The Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce sponsors this annual event. Experience arts and crafts, music, a car show, and fabulous food. Interestingly, no two food vendors can offer the same fare. So there’s quite a variety! Enjoy a Louisiana inspired cook-off and a “famous duck race” where hundreds of yellow rubber ducks float down Bayou Lafourche. Each duck is numbered and tickets cost $5. https://www.facebook.com/thibodeauxville/
Port Barre Cracklin Fest, Nov. 10-12. This Lion’s Club fundraiser provides all the usual festival events — pageantry, a parade, carnival rides and games, food, music, as well as a cracklin cook-off. There are professional and amateur categories and prizes for both taste and booth presentation. http://portbarrecracklinfestival.com/
Natchitoches Christmas Festival, Nov. 18. The city hosts a day-long celebration with a parade, food, music, fireworks, and the unveiling of over 300,000 lights that adorn darling downtown Natchitoches. Lights are on display through Jan. 6. www.natchitocheschristmas.com/
Louisiana Renaissance Fest, Hammond, Nov.-Dec. This medieval festival takes place every weekend in November and the first two weekends in December. A festival, theme park, theatre, holiday shopping destination, and educational experience all rolled into one great adventure. Offers 600 artisans, entertainers, and educational demonstrations. www.larf.net/
Bridge City Gumbo Fest, Oct. 13-15. The Gumbo Fest in this town of approximately 8,000 people is “World Famous!” according to the website. Over 2000 gallons of both seafood and chicken/sausage gumbo are prepared and served during the festival. Wow! bridgecitygumbofestival.org
Louisiana Gumbo Festival of Chackbay, Oct. 13-15. You’ll find plenty of live entertainment. And of course, gumbo. http://lagumbofest.com/
World Championship Gumbo Cook-Off, New Iberia, Oct. 14-15. Experience the “power of roux” at this 28th annual event hosted by the Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce. https://www.facebook.com/gumbocookoff/
Boudin Wars, Sulphur, Sept. 9, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Boudin Wars is an annual celebration of this local delicacy made with a blend of pork, rice, onions and parsley and served in a sausage casing. Local chefs and restaurants compete for boudin bragging rights. Tickets are $10 and allow visitors to sample boudin from all the entries. www.facebook.com/BoudinWars/
Gallery Promenade, Lake Charles, Sept. 29, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. The Arts Council of SWLA hosts this annual showcase of 19 galleries and museums. www.artsandhumanitiesswla.org/events/whats-coming-up/gallery-promenade/
Cal-Cam Fair, Sulphur, Oct. 18-22. Five days of pure festival fun. This is one of the few remaining ‘Old Time Country Fairs’ in the state, where almost anything baked, grown, or crafted can be entered, judged, and awarded prizes. You’ll also find a livestock show, carnival rides, a beauty pageant, musical entertainment, and wildlife exhibits.
Chuck Fest, Lake Charles, Oct. 21, 12:00 – 11:59 p.m. This newer annual event celebrates the culture of SWLA through food, drink, music, and art in downtown Lake Charles.
Flea Fest, Lake Charles, Nov. 11-12. This bi-annual Big Happy Flea Market Event is held on nearly four covered acres at Burton Coliseum. With over 300 vendors, it’s a bargain hunter’s dream. Antiques, toys, handcrafted items, furniture, jewelry . . . you never know what you’ll find! Food vendors and a petting zoo also onsite.