In New Orleans, we sure do love our festivals. Having already proved to the world that we know how to throw the biggest free party on earth (Mardi Gras) and attract people from all over the world to enjoy the best of music and food in one place (Jazz Fest), we now needed to show the more charitable side of NOLA – that we’re so much more than just a good show and an awesome meal.
Hogs for the Cause on March 22-23, a local non-profit charity dedicated to raising money for families with children undergoing pediatric brain cancer treatment, is fueled by locals Rene Louapre and Becker Hall and their insatiable desire to help others. After meeting a child struggling with brain cancer back in 2008, they took their idea of recreating traditional Southern pig roasts and turned it into a full-fledged festival benefit.
By helping pay for smaller – but equally as important – expenses associated with cancer treatment, these families can focus more of their attention on what really matters: preserving the life and well-being of their struggling child. The outcome has been well received and Hogs is quickly becoming one of the most anticipated and talked about food festivals in the city. Combining local music with over 80 different vendors competing for the title of “Louisiana Pork Champion, ” this is one pig-lovin’ festival you don’t want to miss.
The main day of Hogs for the Cause is on Saturday, March 23 at the City Park Festival Grounds and admission is $15 and can be purchased online. The musical line-up this year includes Grammy award winning Rebirth Brass Band, Robert Randolf and The Family Band featuring Anders Osborne, and Eric Lindell. From the vendors, expect things like praline bacon, spicy pulled pork on glazed donut buns, Vietnamese-inspired pork banh mi poboys, as well as ribs, shoulder, and all things hog-a-licious. Compliment your savory feast with sweet treats from Sucre and NOLA Snow Snoballs or branch out from the pork madness with some Woody’s Fish Tacos, Empanada Intifada, St. James Cheese Company, or Crepes a la Cart. Pork or no pork, you really can’t go wrong.
Festivities begin this year on Friday, March 22 with a tailgate event beginning at 4:30 p.m. and lasting until around 11 p.m. at City Park Festival Grounds. $5 admission allows you to mingle with the vendors and beer, wine, and “Hogtails” along with some food will be available for purchase as well.
If you’ve got the dough, don’t miss out on the Friday night Gala Dinner, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Cochon de Lait tent. At $300 a ticket (with a $200 tax deduction), this Southern Asado Argentinian-style dinner is bound to be one of the most talked about events of the year. Chefs Stephen Stryjewski and Ryan Prewitt from Link Restaurant Group have teamed up to prepare a mind-blowing feast of hors d’oeuvres, first and second courses, and desserts prepared using traditional Argentinian open fire techniques. Sample raw oysters, charcuterie, platters of roasted meats, and assorted fire-roasted vegetables with chimichurris, ending with flame roasted fruit pies. Wines will be flowing courtesy of Neat Wines and Neal Bodenheimer will be serving signature cocktails. The probability of people leaving not completely satisfied is slim to none.
So if you haven’t decided whether or not to join the pork party this year, I highly recommend checking it out. If not just for the incredible vendor creations, come for the Sucre gelato, fun in the sun, and loads of live music. Come out, open your wallet and eat your heart out — after all, tickets and donations to Hogs for the Cause are, as always, tax-deductible. Helping those in need has never been this rewarding – or delicious.
Hogs for the Cause
New Orleans City Park