In New Orleans, our best festivals are known nearly as much for their food as they are for their music. However, the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival takes it a step further and gives the food equal billing. Blues and barbecue are natural partners, and it’s only fitting that they’re celebrated together in New Orleans in one supercharged weekend.
The Blues and BBQ Fest takes place this year from Friday, Oct. 17th to Sunday, Oct. 19 in Lafayette Square, between Camp Street and St. Charles Avenue, one block from Poydras Street. This free festival features a variety of blues bands with the California-based Los Lobos as the headlining act on Saturday night and Louisiana’s own Bobby Rush closing out the festival on Sunday night. Local favorites like Papa Mali, Marc Stone, Luke Winslow King, Mia Borders and many more round out the festival’s three days of music offerings.
Of course, barbecue will be well represented over the course of the weekend. Local favorites like The Joint, Squeal, Saucy’s BBQ and Rouses Supermarkets serve up their signature barbecue offerings. For those looking for a barbecue or meat-free alternative, you’ll be pleased to find a variety of mouth-watering options. The Praline Connection will be serving up signature soul food dishes like smothered greens and praline cheesecake along with a couple of barbecue offerings. Woody’s Fish Tacos offers up their signature fish tacos along with char-broiled Gulf oysters. Boswell’s Jamaican Cuisine offers up jerk pork and jerk chicken dishes (plus others), and Cafe Carmo is even bringing a vegan dish to the festival: their Legumes Azi Desi, a dish of grilled vegetables with a chili tomato peanut sauce. This list only begins to scratch the surface. You can find the complete vendor offerings along with menus and prices on the festival’s website.
Along with blues and tasty eats, the festival also hosts an oral history stage. On both Saturday and Sunday, the stage will host musicians at various times to record their stories for posterity. The Jazz and Heritage Foundation, who puts on the festival, integrates oral history into many of its events and seeks to preserve information about the artists’ lives, music and influences. These interviews are open to the public and take place across St. Charles Avenue from Lafayette Square in the NORD Theatre on the ground floor of Gallier Hall. Noted interviews include Papa Mali at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Bobby Rush at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Finally, the festival will also feature an arts market with more than 30 local and regional artists sharing their work with attendees. Original artwork includes painting, jewelry, furniture, pottery, glass, photography and much more. You can find a complete list of vendors here and see a slideshow of the festival’s arts offerings here. Additionally, Abita Brewery serves as the beverage vendor so the local beer will flow freely throughout the weekend. The impressive variety of offerings at this free festival make for a truly memorable and worthwhile way to spend a lovely October weekend in the Crescent City.