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Gambit's 2017 guide to Louisiana fairs and festivals: March 

Wednesdays-May 24Wednesday at the Square (Lafayette Square, 500 block of St. Charles Avenue, 504-585-1500; — The 12-week evening concert series features local and regional musical acts and food and alcohol vendors. 5 p.m. Free.

Thursdays-April 6Lenten Concert Series (St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1100 Chartres St.; — The Lenten concert series on Thursdays features Hispanic music of the Americas, including baroque classical to contemporary Latin jazz. 6 p.m. Free.

Thursdays-NovemberThursdays at Twilight Garden Concert Series (Botanical Garden's Pavilion of the Two Sisters, New Orleans City Park, 5 Victory Ave., 504-483-9488; — A different musician or group performs each week in genres ranging from jazz to modern. 6 p.m. $10 adults, ages 5-12 $3. Multiple-show passes are available.

15-19Art in Bloom (New Orleans Museum of Art, 1 Collins C. Diboll Circle, 504-658-4100; — More than 100 exhibitors display floral designs. This year's theme "Rhythm & Blooms" celebrates music's role in New Orleans culture. Thereare lectures, a fashion show and a preview party. Times and admissions vary.

16-19Louisiana Sportsman Show and Festival (Lamar Dixon Center, Gonzales; — The 38th annual festival includes a boat show, exhibits and vendors offering fishing and hunting equipment, all-terrain vehicles, tractors and lawn equipment. There's a kids' area, a big buck contest, ATV test track, retriever contests and other activities. Noon-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. $8 per day, children $4, $15-$20 four-day pass.

17, 24 & 31Live @ the Lakefront (Arcade Amphitheater, Lake Charles Civic Center, Lakefront Promenade, Lake Charles, 337-439-2787; — The sixth annual live music series features regional bands from a range of genres, as well as food trucks and vendors, arts and crafts and more. Chairs and blankets are allowed. 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Free.

17-18Iowa Rabbit Festival (Burton Coliseum Complex, 7001 Gulf Highway, Lake Charles; — Rabbits and their contribution to the economy and culinary traditions of the area are celebrated at this event, which includes live music, rabbit-themed cook-offs, and a showcase of rabbit breeders. Hours 5 p.m.-midnight Friday, 9 a.m.-midnight Saturday. $10 daily, $15 weekend pass, children 10 and younger free.

17-19Amite Oyster Festival (Northeast Central Ave., Amite; — Oysters on the half shell, in po-boys and prepared other ways are spotlighted at this festival, which also has live Cajun, country, reggae and rock 'n' roll music, an oyster-eating contest, oyster scavenger hunt, chili cook-off, carnival rides and games. 3 p.m.-midnight Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Free.

17-19Louisiana Nursery Festival (4300 Highway 112, Forest Hill, 318-748-6300; — More than 50 vendors offer plants and gardening accessories ranging from porch swings to birdhouses, lawn care and gardening products. There also are food booths, live entertainment and children's activities. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Admission TBA.

17-19Audubon Pilgrimage (West Feliciana Parish Historical Museum, 11757 Ferdinand St., St. Francisville, 225-635-6330; — The three-day event features tours of historic buildings and sites associated with naturalist John James Audubon's time in Louisiana. There also are nature tours, a play and a Saturday soiree with food, music and dancing. Home tours 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Friday evening events 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday soiree 7 p.m.-until. Admission varies.

18Art Madness Art Festival (Joan Mitchell Center, 2275 Bayou Road; — The annual festival features a group show by four New Orleans artists whose works reflect influences of African, New Orleans and African-American cultures. There's also a live performance by T-Ray the Violinist. 6 p.m.-until. Free.

18Earth Fest (Audubon Zoo, 6500 Magazine St., 504-581-4629; — Nonprofits, government agencies and businesses provide information and offer activity-based education programs promoting conservation and environmental awareness. There also are food vendors, live entertainment and crafts. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free with zoo admission: $22.95, $19.95 seniors, $17.95 children 2-12. Free for zoo members.

18Italian American St. Joseph Society Parade (French Quarter; — Actress Vanessa Ferlito (CSI: New York, The Sopranos, Graceland) is the grand marshal for the parade, which begins at Convention Center Boulevard and Girod Street and proceeds through the French Quarter. 6 p.m. Free.

18-19Congo Square Rhythms Festival (Armstrong Park, 701 N. Rampart St., (504) 558-6100; — The 10th annual festival features the music and culture of the African diaspora, including music and dance of Africa, the Caribbean, the American Gulf South and beyond. Musical performers include Rebirth Brass Band, James Andrews, Corey Henry, Erica Falls, John Boutte and others. 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Free.

18-April 18Spring Pilgrimage 2017 (Various locations in Natchez, Mississippi, 800-647-6742; — Hosts don antebellum costumes and welcome visitors on tours of historic homes. There also are theater performances, live music and special presentations focused on 19th century life. Times and admissions vary.

21 & April 4Washington Square Park Music Festival (Washington Square Park, 700 Elysian Fields Ave.; — The two-event series includes a Tribute to Ray Charles featuring pianist Davell Crawford in March. The April event is a tribute to Al Jarreau featuring vocalist Chris Walker. Both performers will be accompanied by the NOLA Big Band. There also are food and beverage vendors, arts and crafts and more. 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Free.

22-26Tennessee Williams Literary Festival (Various locations in New Orleans; — The five-day festival is packed with events including master classes, a writing marathon, walking tours, readings, theater events and more. Times and admissions vary.

23Top Taco New Orleans (Spanish Plaza, 1 Poydras St. at the Mississippi River; — More than three dozen chefs from local restaurant compete to create the best taco, and each restaurant bartender competes to make the top cocktail. There's live music by Los Po-Boy-Citos, Muevelo, Mariachi Jalisco and Otra. 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Tickets vary.

23-26Louisiana Crawfish Festival (Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center, 8245 W. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette; — More than 30,000 pounds of crawfish are served boiled, fried, baked and in a variety of dishes. There's also live music, carnival rides and more. Bands include Witness, Remedy, Category 6, The Molly Ringwalds and Wise Guys. 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Admission $5.

23-26Paddle Bayou Lafourche (Donaldsonville to Lockport, Bayou Lafourche, 985-447-0868; — The 52-mile, four-day event includes paddling trips on Bayou Lafourche and focuses on the culture and heritage of the area. Participants can take part in one-, two-, three- or four-day trips, tasting local cuisine along the way. There's also live music every night. Hours vary. Admission, $40 per day or $150 for four days without canoe rental; $60 per day or $225 for four days with canoe rental. Advance registration required.

24-25Hammond Smokin' BBQ Challenge (Downtown Hammond, Southwest Railroad Avenue; — There are several barbecue cooking contests, including a child's division, and more than 50 teams compete. There's also live music, local food vendors and more. 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free.

24-25Louisiana Motor Transport Association State Truck Driving Championships (Blue Bayou Waterpark, 18142 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, 225-753-3333; — The championships begin with pre-trip inspections, a written test and other examinations on Friday at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge, with the driving competitions, which cover nine categories, on Saturday at Blue Bayou. First-place winners advance to the national championships in Orlando, Florida in August. Course competition begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Admission TBA.

24-26Jackson Assembly Antiques and Art Show (Downtown Jackson, 1740 Charter St., Louisiana, 225-634-7155; — Works by regional artists, antiques, furniture, collectibles, estate jewelry, silver, glass, porcelain and rugs are among items available at the invitation-only show. There are tours of historic buildings daily (noon-4 p.m.) and authors hold book signings. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $10 for three days.

24-26New Orleans Bourbon Festival (Various locations in New Orleans; — The three-day festival includes a variety of bourbon-focused events, a bourbon seminar series, grand tastings, dinners, a marketplace of bourbon-centric merchandise, live music and more. Times and admissions vary.

24-26Saints and Sinners LGBT Literary Festival (Various locations in New Orleans; — The festival brings together people in the LGBT literary world and features panel discussions, master classes for emerging writers and LGBT literature fans, a walking tour, receptions and more. Hours vary. $150 weekend pass.

25Brunch Fest NOLA (Crescent Park, 1008 N. Peters St.; — Brunch dishes and cocktails are available from local restaurants including Apolline, House of Blues, Velvet Cactus and others, and there's live music by Tuba Skinny, Secondhand Street Band and Mother Tucker's Drag Queen Inc. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $5.

25Children's World's Fair XIX (Louisiana Children's Museum, 420 Julia St., 504-523-1357; — Children learn about Croatia, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, India, The Philippines, Puerto Rico and Switzerland, and explore science, technology, engineering and math as well as games, crafts, music and food from the featured countries. Noon-4 p.m. Tickets start at $20, $16 for museum members.

25Cruisin' for the Mission (New Orleans Mission Giving Hope Retreat, 31294 Highway 190, Lacombe, — The classic car and motorcycle show has live entertainment by Eli Seals Band, as well as food, drinks and more. Noon-5 p.m. Free.

25Fete Francaise (Ecole Bi- lingue, 821 Gen. Pershing St., 504-896-4500; — The one-day festival celebrates French food, art and music, and includes children's activities, live music and cultural demonstrations. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free.

25NOLA Disability Pride Festival (Advocacy Center of Louisiana, 8325 Oak St.; www. — The inaugural festival's goal is to bring together resources, organizations, disability arts and culture and individuals dedicated to disabled citizens at this daylong festival. There will be informational displays, vendors, activities, an auction and a second line. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free.

25-26 & April 1-2Spring Fiesta & Historic Home Tours (French Quarter, 826 St. Ann St., 800-550-8450; — The public can tour homes not normally open as part of the 81st annual tour of French Quarter residences. There's also a walking tour and presentation of the court and parade on Saturday. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $15-$25.

26Bloody Mary Festival (The Howlin Wolf, 907 S. Peters St.; — The festival showcases a dozen bloody marys with unlimited tasting. Attendees vote for their favorite version. Noon-4:30 p.m. $39-$45.

26Pedal With Purpose (1600 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.; — The street fair features pedicab races, music from DJ Brice Nice, St. Augustine High School's marching band and the Disco Amigos, as well as food from nearby restaurants. 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Free (donations requested).

26, April 2 & April 9Music Under the Oaks (Audubon Park, Newman Bandstand, 504-581-4629; — The concert series features performances by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Woodwind Quintet (March 26), Loyola University School of Music (April 2) and New Orleans Concert Band (April 9). Food and drinks are available, and lawn chairs are allowed. 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Free.

26World Championship Crawfish Etouffee Cook-off (Northwest Community Center Pavilion, 651 Samuel Drive, Eunice, 337-457-2565; — Professional and amateur cooks vie for the World Champion title, and teams compete to see who can cook the best crawfish etouffee. Etouffee samples are for sale by participants, and attendees can vote for a People's Choice Award. There's also Cajun and zydeco music, a poker run, arts and crafts, children's activities. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free.

31-April 1Delgado Music Festival (Delgado Community College City Park Campus, 615 City Park Ave.; www.dcc-edu/music-fest) — Artists performing live include Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Stanton Moore, Stephanie Jordan, the Iguanas and others. There also are master classes. 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Free.

31-April 1Hogs for the Cause (UNO Lakefront Arena Grounds, 6801 Franklin Ave.; — The festival moves from New Orleans City Park to the grounds at UNO Lakefront Arena this year and offers three stages featuring bands including Shovels & Rope, The London Souls, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, George Porter Jr. & the Runnin' Pardners and others. More than 90 teams compete in barbecue cooking contests (and sell what they cook) and there are food and drink vendors. $25-$210 single day, $310 two-day VIP pass. Children under 12 free.

31-April 2Dave Robicheaux's Hometown Literary Festival (Various locations in New Iberia; — Based on author James Lee Burke's character Detective Dave Robicheaux, the festival celebrates the sights, sounds, tastes and places the fictional detective experienced, and there are seminars and speakers. Times and admissions vary.

31-April 2Kenner's Italian Heritage Festival (Rivertown, Williams Boulevard at the Mississippi River, Kenner; — Live music, local craftspeople, genealogy experts, a display of historic photos, a St. Joseph's Day altar, food vendors and children's activities are among features of the festival. 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. $5, free for children 12 and younger.



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