The annual Andouille Festival will be taking a second run at celebrating its 40th year. The festival began in 1972 and was prepared to celebrate 40 years in existence last year, but Hurricane Isaac caused its cancellation.
Paige Falgoust, St. John the Baptist Parish communications director, said the parish is happy to welcome back the festival beginning Friday, Oct. 18 and is expecting about 20,000 to be in attendance at the St. John Community Center.
“It’s very family oriented. We do have a lot of our locals that go, but we also have a lot of others that travel in from all over the place to attend,” she said.
This year the festival will celebrate its namesake, the andouille sausage, with the first ever andouille eating contest. The contest will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19.
“It will be how much andouille can you eat in a certain amount of time,” Falgoust said. “It will be exciting. A lot of other fests have those types of things and this will be new to us.”
Although LaPlace is billed as “The Andouille Capital of the World,” Falgoust said there is a lot more to it for food lovers.
“We are the only Andouille Festival. I know people think it is all about the sausage, but it is a little different. It allows people to come and see what it is all about and taste the dishes. The vendors have different sausage dishes you can try,” she said.
Plenty of other food will available including gumbo, crackling, shrimp dishes, fried catfish, boudin balls, desserts and more. Also on Saturday, a gumbo cookoff will be held beginning at 7 a.m.
“This is the first year we will be hosting the gumbo cookoff on site. In past years contestants cooked their gumbo and brought it to the festival, but this year attendees will get a chance to watch the gumbo being cooked,” Falgoust said.
For those who would like to participate in the gumbo cookoff, a $25 fee should be submitted to the St. John the Baptist Parish Department of Economic Development by Friday, Oct. 4.
But the festival is not just about the food.
Musical acts will be on hand for performances, including well-known New Orleans regulars such as the Rebirth Brass Band and Gal Holiday & the Honky Tonk Revue. The festival boasts three stages including the main stage, also known as the Smokehouse Stage, the Lagniappe Stage that will feature food demonstrations in addition to musical performances and the Gospel Stage, which will be particularly busy with a full-blown gospel lineup on Sunday.
For kids, the festival will feature a “Kids Zone” that will have musical performances, magic tricks, dance schools and a large area for painting that is paid for by a grant from the River Parishes Arts Council.
“Usually our andouille queens will go and interact with the kids,” Falgoust said.
Some of the acts at the “Kids Zone” will also be kids themselves.
“We have kid bands and sometimes teenage musicians,” she said. “It is an opportunity for our local children to get involved, but also have a place for children to go.”
The apron art contest will also be held at the festival and will feature a silent auction and the art of St. John the Baptist Parish middle schoolers.
For athletic types, the 35th annual Andouille Run will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19. Participants can sign up for either the 5-mile run or the 2-mile run/walk before Oct. 15 for $17 or for $20 after Oct. 15.
For those seeking something a little more relaxed, a jazz brunch will be held on Sunday, Oct. 20.
“It requires $30 tickets. We have a jazz band that plays and then we have a brunch for all of the guests. That’s been going on for 20 years now and it has been a good event,” Falgoust said.
Also, an arts and crafts village will have more than 20 vendors selling specialty products.
Falgoust said although all of the vendor spots have been taken, there are plenty of other opportunities for businesses who would like to promote themselves at the festival.
“The vendor and arts and crafts applications are closed, but we still do accept sponsorships and people can call if they want more information,” she said.
To find out more about the Andouille Festival, visit www.andouillefestival.com or call (985)652-9569.