Tasty alligator, 8 bands expected to draw 30,000 to Luling fest

Around 30,000 people are expected to descend upon Luling’s Alligator Festival this weekend to dine on south Louisiana delicacies, shop for unique crafts and listen to a wide-variety of music from eight live bands.

This year’s festival, held at the West Bank Bridge Park and put on by the Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish, begins with a preview night on Thursday, Sept. 25 and lasts until Sunday, Sept. 28.

The food is always one of the main attractions. The dishes served include everything alligator – from sausage, to sauce piquante and tamales made from the tasty but unusual meat. South Louisiana delicacies such as crawfish pasta, shrimp po-boys, pastalaya, Cajun crawfish rolls and crab cakes will also entice their fair share of hungry fest goers.

More common offerings like burgers, barbecue, hotdogs, nachos and funnel cake will be available for those who want to avoid taking a walk on the culinary wild side. Mixed drinks, beer, hurricanes and daiquiris will be sold as well.While the festival is known for its delicious cuisine, there are plenty of fair rides for those of all ages.

8 bands will perform

For those who want to sit in their lawn chairs and relax or boogie on the dance floor, there will be a wide-range of musical styles from Zydeco to country to rock ‘n’ roll.

The Wiseguys, The Topcats, The Strays, Paper Steamboat, Boot Hill, Louisiana Kids, Waylon Thibodeaux and Christian Serpas & Ghost Town will all perform this year.

As they have for years, The Topcats will close down the festival on Sunday. The group has performed together for nearly three decades and were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2005. They have been voted the “Best Cover Band in New Orleans” by Offbeat Magazine several times. The group plays a variety of music from funk and disco to pop, rap and classic rock.

Paper Steamboat, who perform from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, cover popular 70s hits from Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Joe Cocker and the Rolling Stones. The Wiseguys, who put their own spin on popular R&B and soul hits from the 60s mixed with newer hits from today, close out the fest on Friday night when they play from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m.

Unique crafts for sale

While jamming out and chowing down at the festival, visitors will also be able to get in a little shopping. More than 35 crafts vendors will sell everything from oyster shell ornaments to home décor and hand crafted furniture.

Other booths will sell toys, sports apparel, children’s clothing, alligator jewelry, hand decorated bands and caricature drawings.

The festival will also have live baby alligators that can be held by the public.5K race offered

The Alligator Stomp, a 5K race, will take runners and walkers along the scenic Mississippi River on the paved levee pathway on Saturday. Race registration begins at 8 a.m. on Sept. 27 at the West Bank Bridge Park.

The race begins at 9:10 a.m. and registration is $25.

There will also be a half-mile race for younger children and all those who enter either race will be allowed into the festival free of charge. Registration for the half-mile race is $15 for those between the ages of 13-17. Those 12 years old and under will get to race for free. The half-mile race begins at 9 a.m.

Prizes, which include ride bracelets and commemorative posters, will be given to the top finishers of each race.Festival gates open at 6 p.m. on Thursday

The festival is open from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Thursday for rides and limited concessions only and from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Friday.

On Saturday the festival will open at 11 a.m. and close at 11 p.m., while on Sunday gates will open at 11 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.

Admission to the festival is $1.

All proceeds from the festival are used to offer scholarships to parish students. Additionally, a Vocational Scholarship will be awarded to a student from each of the high schools.

Other proceeds will be utilized to fund various community programs in keeping with the Rotarian motto “Service above Self.”

“We are expecting another great crowd as we did last year. If the weather is nice like it is today, I expect an even larger amount of people to attend,” Quinn Landry, spokesman for the Alligator Festival, said on Tuesday. “What a great way to spend the weekend, great food, great music, great weather and all for a great organization.”

For a complete band schedule and the pay-one-price ride times visit www.alligatorfestival.org.

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