Word must’ve gotten out because over 12,000 people attended the second annual King Cake Fest at Champions Square. And they came hungry, buying more than 50,000 “tasting tickets” benefitting babies and children at Ochsner Hospital for Children. The tickets sold at $10 for 10 King Cake tastings. Vendors also sold full-size cakes and specialties from donut King Cakes to King Cake bread pudding. But the all-day concert featuring Old Sole, The Lucky Dogs, Dr. Jazz, Bucktown All-Stars, and Cowboy Mouth was free.
We got there around 3:30 and the Food Drunk truck was already shuttered, having sold out of everything including their infamous King Cake Burger. In fact, a lot of the trucks had sold out of most of their regular food and were offering nothing but garlic fries or some other random dish. The Bucktown All-Stars were entertaining a crowd of people wearing plenty of purple, green and gold and King Cake-themed hats. My favorite was a hat with a king on top that danced to the music (pictured below).
We wandered past the mile-long line for Nonna Randazzo’s Bakery and stopped to read Fare‘s sign asking, “What does a King Cake taste like without: gluten, dairy, refined sugar or dyes?” while offering their baby-topped “alternative” mini-cakes. Mr. Ronnie’s Famous Hot Donuts looked like they were down to their last beautifully-decorated cakes. Maurice French Pastries had by-far the most intriguing cake – stuffed with fluffy pink creme. They ended up winning the Best Filling award with their classic French confection as well as the People’s Choice award.
FroYo Café joined the local action with their “original King Cake Croissant.” Haydel’s Bakery, a local favorite, had King Cakes in 4 flavors: Traditional, Da Parish, Cream Cheese and Praline ($10) as well as King Cake Bread Pudding ($5).
Sugarbear’s Sweet Shop had adorable decorations and included petit fours while Gerald’s Donuts put their donut twist on the tradition. Caluda’s King Cakes had the most attractive cakes and their Caluda’s Muffaletta King Cake won Most Savory. It was the only booth besides Maurice French Pastries that made me contemplate waiting in the mile-long lines.
Cartozzo’s Bakery had LOTS of filling choices like Nutella and Banana, Peanut Butter and Jelly and Pralines and Cream. Both Sweet Savors Bakery and Loretta’s Authentic Pralines had run out of tasters but still had candied-apples, cupcakes, pastries and other treats.
We left empty-handed and headed to The Arena to watch the Pelicans beat the Dallas Mavericks 109-106 in a great nail-biter game. A jumpy house and games were set up outside before the game and dancers performed to a DJ. Season ticket holders also got to enjoy the beer garden with 2 free beers and plenty of pre-game snacks. On the court, Anthony Davis, “The Brow,” continues to dominate and it’s been a great season to fall in love with the Pels.