The 11th annual Plaquemines Parish Seafood Festival (449 F. Edward Hebert Blvd., Belle Chasse; www.plaqueminesparishfestival.com) features many of the food items one might expect, including all sorts of oyster dishes, but there are some unexpected ones as well, including crawfish enchiladas and shark on a stick. The weekend event (May 15-17) also features amusement rides, a car show, helicopter rides, a five kilometer run/walk, farmer's market and live entertainment.
Food is a regular highlight of the festival. This year's lineup includes sweet potato beignets, rum-soaked pound cake and crawfish boil arancini. The farmers market is a new addition and will offer fresh produce and citrus trees.
A portion of the food has a Croatian twist, which reflects the large Croatian community in Plaquemines.
"There will be several drinks and cuisine offered along with that, especially Friday night," Festival Manager Robert Hopkins says. "To celebrate that history, this year we're bringing in authentic Croatian dancers."
The festival music lineup includes Rockin' Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters, Dash Rip Rock, Todd O'Neill and others. There also is a talent competition, a battle of the bands and the Plaquemines Parish Seafood Festival Queen pageant (pictured).
Many of the food booths are run by nonprofit groups as fundraisers.
"You know when you go up and you see the guy that's serving you a beer, you don't realize that he's with, say, the Knights of Columbus," Hopkins says. "He's making money for his group. Or when a guy hands you a roast beef po-boy, you don't realize that he's doing that to raise money for cancer research and to help his wife [who is battling cancer]."
"The original directors started it as a different way to ... basically have a good time and help local organizations raise money. ... This year is going to be a real growth year for us because we are moving under the roof," Hopkins says. "The parish built a 40,000-square-foot pavilion so you get to experience music and food in the shade late spring, early summer."
Festival admission is $5, and children under 12 get in free.