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Crescent City Blues & BBQ Fest: Food, Music, Free

The Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival (Photo: Zack Smith)

All the right elements for a fall afternoon are in place. It’s like the perfect storm of festival ­– delectably smoky barbecued meats paired with ice cold Abita Beer, set to the soulful soundtrack of blues with the backdrop of the atmospheric perfection that is downtown New Orleans in October. And admission is free. Could it get any better?

The sixth annual Crescent City Blues & Barbecue Festival kicks off Friday, October 14 at 5:30 p.m. in Lafayette Square, and it will feature three days of some of the biggest names in local and international blues and R&B, not to mention a ridiculous lineup of pit masters, grill geniuses and meat maestros serving up massive amounts of downhome barbecued deliciousness. And it’s all brought to you by the same fantastic people who are behind The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, so it goes without saying that these guys know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to showing their guests a good time.

The Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival (Photo: Zack Smith)

Headliners include Shreveport bluesman – and veritable guitar god – Kenny Wayne Shepherd and stunning soulstress Bettye LaVette, not to mention local favorites like the legendary Walter “Wolfman” Washington and the always amazing Ms. Marcia Ball, just to name a few (you can check out the full lineup here).

And as far as the menu is concerned, you might as well start preparing your gut for a gluttonous onslaught of staples such as pulled pork, ribs, brisket, sausage, and chicken served up alongside NOLA novelties like Cochon de Lait po’boys, BBQ Oysters, and crawfish sausage. Vendors include a drool-worthy laundry list of local BBQ greats such as The Joint BBQ, Fat Hen Grill & Grocery, Love at First Bite, and Blues & BBQ Fest newcomer Smokin’ Buddha BBQieux.

And as any seasoned festival-goer can tell you, it’s always wise to develop a plan of attack when it comes to mapping out your must-have eats when the offerings are this amazing. My personal picks? Cochon de Lait nachos from the cochon connoisseurs (and Jazz Fest favorite) Love at First Bite, Pulled Pork from The Joint (our pick for the Best BBQ in NOLA), Lamb Ribs from Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar, and Smokin’ Buddha BBQieux’s BBQ Pork Pie, because pork + pie crust seems like a combination that’s almost too good to be true.

The festival will also feature an Art Market, as well as an Oral History Stage in the NORD Theater (located across the street from the Festival at Gallier Hall) where fest-goers will have the chance to hear many of the performers discuss their lives and their work – a must-see for any true blues enthusiast.

For more information about the performers, lineups, and menus, plus logistical details such as location, parking (including FREE bike parking!) and whether or not you can bring your pet (you can’t) or your own seating (you can!), check out the festival’s official site.

Crescent City Blues & Barbecue Festival

October 14-16, 2011

Friday, Oct. 14: 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ; Saturday, Oct. 15 & Sunday, Oct. 16: 11 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Lafayette Square Park (530 St. Charles Ave.)

Admission: FREE!

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