The rain held off for the first day of the 8th annual New Orleans Oyster Festival in Woldenberg Park. I’ve attended every year for the live music, food booths, local artists (most of whom have oyster-inspired pieces of art, housewares and jewelry) and food demonstrations. Like many of our festivals, the event is meant to give back to the local community – this time through several non-profits aimed at coastal restoration. They provided oyster shell recycling bins to help build coastal reefs – so even throwing away your trash properly helped the coastline.
We started with the main attraction – oysters. Antoine’s had a warm and wonderful Oysters, Bay Scallops & Peas Penne Pasta in a white whine sauce topped with a two cheese mix & panco. Then we had a superbly fried Oyster Po-Boy from Acme Oyster House. We finished with a Wedding Cake flavored sno-ball from Nola Snow, the people who refreshed our wedding second line paraders 3 years ago.
Billy Iuso & the Restless Natives (the original “feel the BIRN”) were onstage when we finished. Swaying to their jam session next to the Mississippi on a warm, breezy, grey day was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.
Bonerama was next to take the stage and, probably owing to the recent passing of Greg Allman, they opened with a driving version of Whipping Post. I first heard the band at the premier Oyster Fest in 2010 and was blown away by their ability to bend their trombones’ notes into the sounds of guitars. The also played more classic trombone tunes including their locally-inspired Mr. Okra.
We were content to leave after that but noticed the normally miles-long line at Drago’s was only about half a dozen people. It was such a treat to finally get to have those smoky and succulent Charbroiled Oysters – and without a wait. A perfect way to end the day. The fest continues through Sunday.
Fun factoid, both Bonerama and Billy Iuso are featured in my latest novel, The Hidden Huntsman: A Charlotte Reade Mystery. Come to my reading and Q&A at the Garden District Book Shop this Tuesday 6-7:30pm.