Now in its seventh year, the annual Oak Street Po-boy Festival (www.poboyfest.com) has become a New Orleans favorite. Organizers expect 50,000 attendees at this year's event on Sunday, Nov. 24, on Oak Street from Carrollton Avenue to Eagle Street. The lineup includes 38 vendors in addition to Oak Street restaurants, and there will be a food truck area on Leonidas Street.
"The natural expansion for the festival was down the Leonidas corridor," says Paulina Trujillo, the festival's director of operations. "It's also our attempt at urban renewal for the neighborhood, to bring some more visibility and commerce to the street. It all started with Oak Street, and it's really helped out the business district there, so Leonidas seems like the next step."
Vendors offer classic and creative versions of po-boys. New paricipants at the festival include McClure's Barbecue, with a barbecued brisket cheese steak, and Voleo's Seafood Restaurant, which will serve smothered rabbit po-boys. Galatoire's also is new to the fest and will offer shrimp BLTs.
The recently shuttered Crazy Johnnie's Steak House will serve a pulled pork po-boy, a "tamale cone" and other dishes.
In order to sample as many po-boys as possible, Trujillo recommends arriving with friends and sharing sandwiches.
"There's no way that any single person can hit all 38 official vendors plus the Oak Street vendors and the food trucks. A team is necessary," she says.
Participating food trucks include La Cocinita, which will serve pressed Cuban po-boys, Foodie Call with a porchetta po-boy, Food Drunk, serving a "drunken pig" po-boy, and Frencheeze, which will offer roast beef and blue cheese po-boys.
Crowding on narrow Oak Street has been an issue at the festival in the past. Organizers have configured this year's event to ease foot traffic.
"We've moved most of our vendors to the corners so that their lines are able to wrap around the street, which really should help out the flow," Trujillo says.
The festival also has three music stages, and the lineup includes Los Po-Boy-Citos, Rebirth Brass Band, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Alexis and the Samurai and Terence Higgins and Swampgrease and others.
The festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, also sponsors a food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank.