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'French' Food Fest Down the Bayou 

  The French Food Festival, one of the best eating weekends in south Louisiana, is Oct. 28-30, and it's well worth marking the calendar for a short road trip to experience it.

  The French Food Festival is the biggest annual event in the small, Lafourche Parish town of Larose. Don't let the festival name fool you. In Acadiana, what the world knows as Cajun music is often just called French music, and the same sometimes goes for the food. So don't expect French bistro classics, but rather Cajun home cooking, blown up in scale for a festival that draws about 35,000 people over three days.

  The event happens at the Larose Regional Park & Civic Center (307 East Fifth St., Larose; 985-693-7355; www.bayoucivicclub.org), and there are carnival rides, a craft market, art shows and the other trappings of a small town fair. The main event, however, will be inside a new pavilion, just completed and being dedicated at this year's event. Inside, you'll find a music stage at one end and many food booths lining the flanks.

  Families, businesses and various community organizations sponsor these booths. They each feature a few specialty dishes, which in some cases are old family recipes that have become French Food Festival traditions over the event's 38 years.

  There are 25 food booths this year, and traditional favorites include alligator sauce piquante, fried crab claws, shrimp boulettes, pork etouffee, seafood gumbo and tarte a la bouille, a custard pie and a regional specialty.

  Swamp pop, Cajun and country bands perform throughout the festival. Admission and parking are free.

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