Jam out, chow down and ride ‘til your heart’s content
Around 45,000 people, and some live alligators, are expected to descend upon St. Charles Parish for the Rotary Club’s 31st annual Alligator Festival.
Greeting them at the West Bank Bridge Park will be 49 crafts vendors, numerous festival rides, a wide-variety of music and those famous south Louisiana delicacies.
Items such as crab meat bisque over a shrimp patty, shrimp balls with crawfish sauce, po-boys and muffalettas are all on the menu. Of course, alligator burgers, alligator sausage, and alligator sauce piquant will also get any mouth watering.
More common offerings like burgers, barbecue and funnel cake will be on tap for those who want to avoid taking a walk on the culinary wild side. Mixed drinks, hurricanes and daiquiris will be sold as well.
This year’s festival begins Thursday, Sept. 23 and lasts until Sept. 26. While the festival is known for its authentic cajun cuisine, there will also be plenty of rides, including roaring roller coasters for the teens and merry go rounds for the younger children.
One new addition this year is live alligators, which will be set up in a pond at the park. Visitors can walk around and view the alligators, and also pay a fee to pet a baby alligator.
For those that want to sit in their lawn chairs and relax, there will be a wide-range of musical styles, from zydeco to country to rock ‘n’ roll.
The Wise Guys, Ryan Foret & Foret Tradition, Deep Down Enzo, The Bucktown All-Stars, Don Rich, Chris Gray and the Topcats are on the schedule this year.
The Topcats, who close down the festival on Sunday, have performed together for 27 years, were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and have been voted the “Best Cover Band in New Orleans” by Offbeat Magazine six times. The group plays music that varies from funk and disco to pop, rap and classic rock.
Don Rich, a self-taught singer/songwriter, plays seven instruments, including the keyboard, fiddle, saxophone, guitar, drums, bass and the accordion. He was also inducted in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and was inducted into the West Bank Musicians Hall of Fame in 2006.
The Bucktown All-Stars are a nine-piece rhythm and blues band, while Deep Down Enzo is a rock band that plays everything from songs by AC/DC to those by Alanis Morrisette.
And The Wise Guys, who lead off the festival, put their own spin on popular R&B and soul hits from the 60s mixed with newer hits from today.
While jamming out and chowing down at the festival, visitors will also be able to get in a little shopping. Forty-nine crafts vendors will sell everything from alligator items, to wooden furniture to handmade jewelry.
This year, there is a $1 charge to enter the festival. Ride ticket prices can be found on page 1A.
The festival is open from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Thursday 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 it will open at 11 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.
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 schools.
Additional proceeds from the festival will be utilized to fund various community programs in keeping with the Rotarian motto “Service above Self.”