Seafood and Eat It

Louisiana Seafood Festival highlights an economic engine.
Cheryl Gerber

Eating locally is a growing trend in the United States, and for Louisiana residents and visitors, delicious seafood from area waters has long been part of the culinary economy.

To celebrate this important economic engine and gastronomic delight, the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation hosts the annual Louisiana Seafood Festival Sept. 4-6 at the City Park Festival Grounds.

According to the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, “One out of every 70 jobs in Louisiana is related to the seafood industry, which as a whole has an economic impact of over $2.4 billion annually for Louisiana. Many of these jobs are in family-owned and -operated companies that have worked for generations to bring the finest seafood to the tables of the world.”

The finest seafood will indeed be served at the festival. The 2015 food vendor list is impressive, featuring restaurants locals adore and tourists travel to New Orleans to experience. Highlights include  Acme Oyster House, Drago’s, Galatoire’s, Luke and Seither’s Seafood. More than 25 vendors will be in attendance, and because admission is free, attendees are free to csome back over the course of three days to make sure they don’t miss a thing.

“The festival continues to put the spotlight on the six species of seafood that come from our waters — finfish, shrimp, oyster, crab, crawfish and alligator, says Jennifer Kelley, executive director of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation. “Between the food vendors offering around 80 seafood dishes and the 15 cooking demonstrations showing how to prepare Louisiana seafood products, guests have no choice but to be engrossed in all things Louisiana seafood!”

The Louisiana Seafood Festival reported over 55,000 guests in 2014, a 22 percent increase over the previous year. This year they expect another increase and have invested in the event to see it grow year over year.

A recent addition that has proven to be a guest favorite is the VIP Beer Garden.

“This year guests aged 21 and older can donate a $10 admission fee (per day) to access the beer garden, which gets them a 16-ounce souvenir beer stein and their first beer free,” Kelley says. “Craft draft that is served in the Beer Garden will be $6 each, and we plan to have 20 different beers on tap. This is a beer VIP area, a place to be seen and catch up with your friends. It is located with perfect positioning to view the music stage, and has lots of shade.”

The music lineup is still being finalized at the time of publication, but previous artists included national recording artists Gin Blossoms, Pat Green, Drivin N Cryin and Marc Broussard, as well as local favorites such as Flow Tribe, Eric Lindell, Deadeye Dick and many others.

The Louisiana Seafood Festival continues to highlight both the importance of buying seafood and supporting the hospitality industry.

“The Festival is a major fundraiser and signature event for the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, whose mission is to facilitate the resources of the hospitality industry to provide support for the education, health and social welfare of children in the community,” Kelley says, adding that the organization utilizes an event fundraising model to raise funds to give back to programs across the state.

“We want everyone to eat Louisiana seafood products,” she says. “They are delicious, nutritious and plentiful. Buying Louisiana seafood also helps keep a historic part of our economy rolling — from fishermen to processors to wholesalers to retailers — we need the cycle to continue so Louisiana can continue to thrive.”
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Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City. She advises travelers to ask their cab/pedicab/gondola driver for their favorite restaurant and taking a chance.



Categories: Food, The Magazine