Boogie Woogie on the Bayou

The Bayou Boogaloo returns along the banks of Bayou St John

One of the worst mistakes a visitor to New Orleans can make is to spend their entire trip in the French Quarter. While it’s the most historic part of the city, if you don’t venture outside its borders, you are missing out on incredible aspects of the NOLA.

A perfect reason to travel lakeside of Rampart this weekend is the Bayou Boogaloo. Located in Mid-City, it’s an easy streetcar, bike rental or cab ride from the Quarter and offers an insider’s look at what a New Orleans block party experience is like on a grand scale.

The 11th annual event is the best free ticket in town this week. Think Jazz Fest before 1990. The music, food and art on display and for purchase are intrinsically New Orleans. Local and international acts will perform and the atmosphere is truly that of a laid-back festival.

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Running May 20-22, the Bayou Boogaloo has grown each year and promises four stages along Bayou St. John for crowds to enjoy and explore. Featured musical acts this year include: The Wailers, Irma Thomas, Lowrider Band, George Porter Jr & The Runnin’ Pardners, Buckwheat Zydeco, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Motel Radio, Robin Barnes, Rory Danger & The Danger Dangers, Red Hot Brass Band, Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers and the Trombone Shorty Academy, to name a few.

More than 30 food vendors will be out to offer signature tastes of New Orleans. Some featured favorites include: Beaucoup Juice Spirited Snowballs (All Natural Fresh Juice), Boucherie, Bratz Y’all!, Crêpes à la Cart, Felipes Mexican Taqueria, Food Drunk, Mid City Pizza, Monas Café, Ralph’s on the Park and Woody’s Fish Tacos.

Art and handcrafted items will be available by nearly 70 different vendors. For meaningful gifts and souvenirs, seek out the Bayou Soap Company, Ginger Kelly Glass Studio, Niki Fisk Jewelry, Swamp Dog & Friends and WalkingMan Studios.

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Special events are tied into the festival as well. The “Paddle Battle” kayak boat races, Boogaloo’s Bank and Bayou Clean-Ups, Pop Up Hoop Jam and Epic Bubble Making, and even a Bicycle Pub Crawl are all quirky recreational events during the weekend.

One of the best aspects of the Bayou Boogaloo is the fact that it’s welcoming to families. And even four-legged members of the family are invited. The First NBC Kids Stage has a weekend filled with appropriate programing and family-friendly events are planned every day. In addition to the hula hooping and bubble making, there is also a bounce house and an arts & crafts section.

With more than 35,000 attendees in 2015, this year promises to bring similar crowds to a beautiful section of the city.

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