Springtime is here, and in New Orleans, that doesn’t just mean fantastic weather; it also means the long awaited festival season is finally upon us. This time of year is all about Wednesday at the Square, French Quarter Fest, Jazz Fest, and my personal favorite, Hogs for the Cause.
The 6th Annual Hogs for the Cause event is taking place the weekend of March 28-29 in City Park or, “City Pork,” as attendees like to call it. What began in 2008 as a small pig cookout along the river has grown into one of the biggest local charitable events in New Orleans. Inspired by Ben Sarat, Jr., a little boy who lost his valiant battle with brain cancer in 2010, Hogs for the Cause founders Rene Louapre and Becker Hall decided to turn their dream festival-o-swine into an opportunity to raise money to help families like Ben’s.
The festival kicks off on Friday, March 28 with the Seafood Jubilee Gala Dinner, where a group of renowned Southern chefs called the Fatback Collective will prepare delicious seafood creations over an open fire. In addition, there will be cocktails, a silent auction and live music. Rumor has it that there’s also a surprise in store for those who attend. This event begins at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $150.
Another option is the Friday Night Tailgate Experience, which is a more affordable alternative to the Gala Dinner. Tickets in advance are $15 and $25 at the gate. From 4:30 p.m. until 11 p.m., hog festers get to hang out with the pitmasters and competing teams while enjoying Theo’s Pizza, adult beverages, and the sounds of Dumpstafunk, Rosco Bandana, and Earphunk. Also, Hogs has teamed up with Liberty’s Kitchen this year to produce a menu of “Hoggy Snacks,” which include black bean sliders, old fashioned nectar sodas, chuck/brisket cheeseburgers, crawfish rolls, and “Cowboy Caviar” — black eyed peas marinated in cilantro lime dressing and served with grilled bread. These snacks will be available for purchase at the Tailgate Experience and during the festival on Saturday as non-pork options.
Ben Sarat, Jr. “High on the Hog” Cook-Off Competition
Beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 29, pork-fanatics will begin filling City Park, laying out blankets and chairs in preparation for an entire day of food, music, drinks, and fun. The 2014 festival is expected to be better than ever, with 90 teams competing for the “High on the Hog” title and a 12-band music lineup performing on two stages that includes Pat Green, North Mississippi Allstars, The Hold Steady, Hurray for the Riff Raff and the Treme Brass Band. Judges this year will have to save room to taste the new “beans” category in addition to pork/shoulder, ribs, sauce, and “porkpourri,” which can be anything containing pork. Food and drink sponsors include Camellia Beans, NOLA Brewing Company, Bayou Rum, Bastianich Wines and Cathead Vodka. Online tickets are $15, gate price is $25.
If one thing’s for sure, Hogs for the Cause isn’t just an incredibly well thought out food and music festival, it’s also an opportunity for our local community to come together and make a resounding difference in others’ lives. I love seeing all the creative team names, like last years, “I Like Pig Butts and I Can Not Lie,” in addition to tasting the amazing food that these BBQ experts, acclaimed chefs, and backyard grill masters create for everyone to experience.
On March 29, this little piggy hopes for great weather, a front row spot for Pat Green, and most importantly, to see all of you out at City Pork!