In addition to floral fireworks in the countryside, one of the surest ways of knowing that Spring has arrived is the start of weekend festival season.
In the Southern US, the most popular festival themes are food (strawberries, crawfish, shrimp, and barbecue), music (blues and jazz), and flowers (azaleas and roses). Our choice this past weekend was the Strawberry Festival in Ponchatoula, Looo-ziana.
As the self-proclaimed Strawberry Capital of the World, Ponchatoula knows how to throw a bodacious berry fête. This festival was one of our annual pilgrimages when we lived in New Orleans, and it was a pleasure to return.
All the essential ingredients for fun and gluttony were there to be had. First and foremost was the opportunity for some great people-watching – and this festival brings out the “strawberry” in everyone.
There were the always tasty, deep-fried delights – which in Louisiana includes a preponderance of seafood of all types; the midway with rides and games of chance and skill (yeah, right); and a parade, which was the high point for us.
Ponchatula is only 50 miles from New Orleans, so the parade was part small-town cute, and part Mardi Gras brawl for beads and doubloons. There were a number of talented, endearing all girl dance troupes that couldn’t have been more adorable, and lots of company sponsored floats. The cool thing about the company floats was that most had all the employees and their families on board, tossing goodies to the crowd.
And we were right in there with the rest of ‘em: “Hey Mister, throw me something!” This is our pile of booty, and yes, that is a package of English muffins (a first for us). A local bakery was tossing muffins and loaves of bread to the crowd. Picture a big, fat loaf of bread flipping baton-like through the air to get the full comic effect of this moment. I am not making this up.
And of course, there were all things strawberry: strawberry shortcake, strawberry daiquiris (leaded and unleaded), strawberry ice cream, strawberries dipped in chocolate and coconut, and strawberries breaded and deep-fried.
Even though some of you may be wondering if Spring will ever arrive where you live, I’m sure that it will. When it does, venture forth and find a bodacious weekend festival. Then eat too much, drink too much, get a sunburn, and welcome Spring properly.
James and Terri