I’m a longtime charcutière so when I read that LaPlace was set to hold the latest installment of their long-running Andouille Festival, attendance was mandatory.
St. John The Baptist Parish’s big sausage party got its start back in 1972 at the then-10-year-old LaPlace Dragway. It was developed as a fundraiser for the LaPlace Volunteer Fire Department. RL Reeves Sr was a volunteer fire fighter so I’m always happy to pitch in to help out the men who put out fires and do it without pay.
Walking into the festival I’m immediately taken by how big the affair is. The event is now held at Tom Daly Park (named after the long-time DA and judge) and the grounds are packed with thousands of people, a massive carnival, a long L-shaped row of food booths, an outdoor concert area as well as 2 good sized “gospel tents”
You could spend hours here having the time of your life, gorging on sausage, soaking in the sweet Louisiana sunshine and listening to bands of all stripes.
But I’m here for the food.
A good 2 dozen food booths are doing big business but I’ve come for the andouille and I reckon Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse (est. 1950) is as good a place as any to start. Mr Jacobs is no longer with the concern but the new owner assured me he had not changed a single one of the old recipes so I order a hunk of smoked andouille and get down to business.
It’s about as good as it gets; smoky and moist with a good peppery flavor.
Rambling along the perimeter of the festival I notice a gaggle of young women in dance outfits “Are y’all about to perform”
“Yes sir, we’re the NOLA Dolls and we’re just about ready”
I take up a perch inside the “gospel tent” and am summarily blown away.
To the strains of Diplo the ladies basically explode onto the stage and deliver a frenetic performance that brings to mind the Solid Gold Dancers or perhaps the Living Color dancers from days of yore.
NOLA Dolls are 20 feet from stardom.
After a blazing dance performance I need sustenance so I make a beeline straight for T-Nate’s Cracklins. This is an outfit I’ve never heard of but the counter lady informs me that these are “the best”
I’m not sure if I’d go that far but they are really good and certainly in the upper echelon of cracklins in Louisiana.
The emcee on the main stage is ready to introduce the Andouille Queen and the Andouille Princess so I make my way with haste to the concert area where Madison King holds court as the 2015 Queen alongside Tabitha Tregre the Teen Queen.
As all Louisiana residents know our womenfolk are the prettiest on earth and both of these young ladies will represent the festival in high style.
As I have pressing matters back in New Orleans I make my way toward the exit after a quick visit back to Wayne Jacobs Smokehouse to purchase a log of Andouille the size of a Louisville slugger.
As I walk through the parking lot an old Cajun comments “You could whomp someboy’s ass with that big ol thing”
“Yeah, I guess I could if anybody tried to take it off of me”