New Orleans, La. – Louisiana food festivals are often pegged to their calendar dates for good reasons, like seasonal freshness or cultural tradition. This weekend, a unique collection of festivals happening together in New Orleans show the importance of such timing, each for its own reason.
It's been anything but smooth sailing for the Louisiana oyster industry recently. Destructive hurricanes in 2005 and 2008 wrecked boats and docks and buried oyster beds under storm-driven mud. The federal government has threatened to limit seasonal sales of its fresh product through pending regulation. And now, of course, a wave of oil unleashed by BP's engineering disaster in the Gulf has brought new peril for the oyster harvest and those who earn their living by it.
Thanks to the way they proliferate across the New Orleans calendar, most folks seem to have a pretty good lock on what a local festival looks like. Most are outdoors and have music, food and drinks. There will probably be T-shirts for sale, possibly even an official poster. This is the fundamental template for everything from Jazz Fest to small neighborhood festivals.
New Orleans, La. – My friend Mike Kerrigan read my thoughts clearly during my first trip to Venice, La., last summer. We were on our way to an offshore fishing charter and he drove while I gazed through his truck's windshield at the stark, industrial picture Venice presents to visitors arriving by land.