If you haven't been to the Los Isleños Fiesta in St. Bernard Parish, you owe it to yourself to do so. I took my family there today and we were blown away by the food and music — particularly the folk music of the visiting troupe from the Canary Islands known as La Parranda de Teror (The Big Party from Teror). They played from 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. today (Saturday) and will take the stage at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday and play until 4 p.m.
Even better, after the large band's "formal" performance on stage, catch them in the small bar on the fair grounds, where about a dozen of the musicians will play their hearts out for whoever can squeeze into the bar. Another 8 or 10 played outside, and most of the group stayed late to entertain the fair workers (see photo). Somebody from the Jazz Fest should get these guys over here in April!
Teror, the band's home town, is a major tourist destination in Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands. In the late 18th Century, two major waves of Canary Islanders settled what is now lower St. Bernard Parish and established a thriving culture based on cattle, sugar, trapping and fishing. (My maternal grandfather, Jose Nunez, raised 11 children on his income from trapping mink and muskrat.) The annual Fiesta, now in its 35th year, celebrates St. Bernard's Isleño heritage.
Even if you don't have Isleño roots, the fiesta is a great party. Check out the Isleño food as well as the local fare (fried shrimp & fish, chargrilled oysters, alligator sausage and more), along with craftsmen and storytellers from the islands and from St. Bernard. My son, an avid duck hunter, bought a hand-made duck call from Jerry Alfonso, an old Isleño decoy carver with whom I had the pleasure of duck hunting some years ago.
It was good to see so many folks celebrating their heritage ... and when I go to events like this in St. Bernard, I inevitably meet distant cousins I never knew I had.
The Fiesta resumes on Sunday from noon 'til 8 p.m.
DIRECTIONS: Go to Chalmette and head eastward on Judge Perez Drive as far as it can go, which is Bayou Road (aka Old St. Bernard Hwy.). Turn left. You'll see the fair grounds on your left after about a quarter mile.
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