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ANDOUILLE IN OVERDRIVE 

  Demand for andouille goes through the roof this time of year as summer weather slackens, tailgating and backyard barbecues hit high gear and home cooks start working the peppery, smoky sausage into traditional Louisiana dishes and countless other kitchen customizations.

  The capital for andouille is LaPlace, and it's no coincidence that this time of year, with the seasons changing, is when the riverside town 30 miles upstream from New Orleans hosts its annual Andouille Festival (St. John Community Center, 2900 Hwy. 51, LaPlace; www.andouillefestival.com), which this year happens Oct. 14-16.

  On the surface the event looks like many another small town fairs, with carnival rides, crafts and midway games and a roster of local bands. There's also a pageant to select the young woman who will wear the Andouille Queen crown.

But where it really counts, in the food department, this is the place to revel in the passion for andouille. Saturday afternoon there's a gumbo-cooking contest, and on Sunday, Cajun Grill & Catering (135 Belle Terre Blvd. LaPlace, 985-359-4745) hosts a festival-themed andouille brunch, with a single-minded menu that includes chocolate-dipped andouille chips for dessert.

  Most of the eating goes on at festival food booths, and of course, some of the traditional LaPlace smokehouses will set up booths. You can test drive the pride of Bailey's Andouille (513 W. Airline Hwy., LaPlace, 985-652-9090; www.baileysandouille.com) in chicken and sausage gumbo, and Wayne Jacob's Smokehouse (769 W. Fifth St., LaPlace, 985-652-9990; www.wjsmokehouse.com) will offer andouille corn dogs.

  LaPlace andouille links are available at the festival to take home for your own recipes. So bring a cooler.

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