Juicy, seasonal Creole tomatoes anchor the weekend as the 27th annual French Market Creole Tomato Festival runs on June 8 and 9 in New Orleans. The Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival will provide the soundtrack to your tomato tasting with popular local bands performing directly across from the market at the Old U.S. Mint on Barracks Street.
Throughout the tasty weekend, watch as chefs from area eateries such at Muriel’s Jackson Square, Purloo and The Irish House give hourly demonstrations (and samples) of Creole tomato-based dishes. As revelers will see, the juicy red fruit is a mainstay of Louisiana cuisine; it can be tucked into crawfish pies, seafood salads, fried entrées, grilled items or anything else a chef’s imagination can concoct. An added incentive to visit the fest: Shoppers who spend $30 in French Market stalls will be given a complimentary box of Creole tomatoes from local farmers.
For the musical half of the French Market festival, follow your ears to the Zydeco Fest’s music stage at Ursulines Avenue near Decatur Street on June 8 — it’s impossible to miss, with the French Market Archway as the backdrop. The Babineaux Sisters, Bruce Daigrepont and Rosie Ledet headline the day’s lineup at the Old U.S. Mint. Then on June 9, Cajun sensation Beausoleil and Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots serve as the marquee acts. A new addition this year is the Zydeco Festival’s interview stage, a place where Louisiana artists can share the story of their culture and craft. Food stands and arts and crafts booths will round out the festival.
On June 9, brass bands will march throughout the stalls of the French Market — no doubt followed by a second line waving the traditional white handkerchiefs. If you’re bringing the whole family out for the dual festival, enjoy children’s activities such as a Kid’s Cool Zone in Dutch Alley, miniature golf, crafts, face painting, dancing and a parade. Think it’s going to be too hot for marching? In addition to misting stations around the market, 5,000 fans will be handed out throughout the fest — of course, in the spirit of the fun-filled weekend, they’ll be shaped as tomatoes.
Photos courtesy of French Market Corporation and Eric Simon