Don’t Wear Your Fancy Clothes
Inaugural Fried Chicken Festival is sure to be a crowd pleaser
If my social media feed is any indication, everyone in Greater New Orleans will be at the inaugural Fried Chicken Festival (FCF) this Sunday, Sept. 25 at Lafayette Square Park from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Locals and tourists alike will be in the Central Business District for the free festival that is packed with interesting food vendors and live music. Rather than complaints about yet another festival, people have been excited for this new food fest that celebrates an arguably addictive delicacy.
“Bringing new experiences to the people of this great city is something that I am passionate about,” said Cleveland Spears III, FCF organizer and president/CEO of the Spears Group. “This event will bring a unique twist to a very popular Southern dish, and it will become a new experience that is uniquely New Orleans.”
The new outdoor festival promises to celebrate the classic southern iteration of the dish, but will also feature alternative interpretations of fried chicken. It will host both local and national chefs who will bring their own variations of this particular manna. Fried Chicken will be judged in a contest by national chefs, food writers and critics. And also by my editor, of whom I am very envious.
The 28 vendors chosen to participate in the FCF include many local favorites: Lil’ Dizzy’s Café, McHardy's Fried Chicken, Milkfish, Tracey’s, The Company Burger, Crepes a la Cart and more. But let’s be real, if you are only eating one vendor’s chicken (which would be a huge mistake, huge), you better line up for Willie Mae’s Scotch House.
The scheduled performers are a great representation of NOLA music. Brass band, jazz and the latest music the kids are dancing to are all included. Sweet Crude combines indie rock with the French language and influences of their native Southern Louisiana; John Boutte has a voice filled with honey and soul; Tank and the Bangas are fronted by singer/songwriter/spoken word artist Tarriona Tank Ball and will surprise you with every song; the Brass-A-Holics combine NOLA funk and brass band music into an addictive form; and DJ Mannie Fresh will bring the beats that keep everyone dancing.
The festival, presented by Raising Cane’s, is also working to raise money for two local nonprofits. Café Reconcile and Liberty’s Kitchen, both of which are also participating and food vendors, work with underserved and at-risk youth to teach them skills they can parlay into restaurant careers and employ them in their kitchens as part of the training.
To that end, while FCF is free and open to the public, you can purchase VIP passes to the Moët Chicken and Champagne Lounge for $45 if you are 21 years of age or older. Lounge access includes a bottle of champagne and souvenir sipper, a special fried chicken and waffle dish, swag, seating and VIP restroom use.
If you are visiting New Orleans this weekend, I recommend you swing by the Fried Chicken Festival. Then you can brag to your friends that you were at the very first one and you ate the very best chicken.