On Oct. 25, the Bywater neighborhood will come alive with local food, art, music and, of course, mirlitons. To get excited about the Mirliton Festival, you’ll first have to know what a mirliton is. The mirliton is a mild flavored, pear shaped fruit that has been traditionally grown in many backyards across the city. In south Louisiana, mirlitons are omnipresent during the holidays. My favorite mirliton dish, by far, is the stuffed mirlitons that show up on tables every Thanksgiving.
The Mirliton Festival got its start 25 years ago in 1990 to serve as the signature event and primary fundraiser for the Bywater Neighborhood Association. The proceeds from the festival are used to improve the quirky neighborhood through beautification, blight eradication, historic preservation and to support various charitable organizations. With humble beginnings as a gathering of a few neighbors and friends, the Mirliton Festival has become one heck of a draw. However, this year’s festival is going to be a bit different that the past few years as they take over the entire Bywater neighborhood. But don’t worry: it will still be easy to see it all without working up too much of a sweat, as there are going to be free pedicab rides all day long in the Bywater.
The Mirliton Festival started out in Mickey Markey Park and on its 25th anniversary, Mickey Markey Park is going to be your Mirliton Festival headquarters. Why? Because that is where the music is going to be. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. the Mirliton Festival music stage is going to feature One Love Brass Band, Daria and the Hip Drops, Social Set and Strange Roux. Markey Park is also where you’re going to find drinks, including Booty’s Street Food’s famous Bywater Bomber daiquiris, a directory of all the cool happenings throughout the neighborhood, and, of course, mirlitons. Fresh mirlitons, mirliton seedlings and mirliton recipes will all be available.
The Food Scene
Bywater is one of the city’s hottest food destinations right now, and just about every single restaurant in the neighborhood is getting in on the Mirliton Festival with a mirliton themed dish for the day. Just a few of the mirliton dishes you can look forward to are: Pizza Delicious’ mirliton pizza; Mariza’s grilled mirliton bruschetta with roasted corn, duck cracklin’ and tomatoes; and, Suis Generis’ smoked mirliton pepper pasta with jumbo shrimp and Crystal cream sauce.
Back in Business
It isn’t just the restaurants that are getting into the swing of the Mirliton Festival, just about every Bywater business is involved. The much-loved Piety Street Market will be running a special market during the Mirliton Festival. The Alvar Library, bon castor, Christopher Porché West, and Time Will Tell are among the numerous Bywater spots hosting Mirliton Festival events and specials.