Faces of Fun: 20,000 enjoy 44th annual Andouille Festival

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, October 18, 2017

LAPLACE — With more than 20,000 attendees over the course of the weekend, the 44th annual Andouille Festival was a successful venture that attracted guests from near and far while promoting the rich history of St. John the Baptist Parish.

The Festival served as a venue for the community to gather and bond over shared cultural experiences, according to Jerry W. Jones Jr., director of economic development for St. John Parish.

“Any time we, as a community, can come together in an effort to highlight our food, culture and, most importantly, the people of St. John in a positive light, it is a success,” Jones said.

Simone Borne and Sophie Borne, left, enjoyed the Andouille Festival with Kara Labat and River Moya, right.


Andouille Queen Laeh Alexander, who presided over the Festival along with Teen Andouille Queen Patience Pray, said witnessing the local culture and seeing everyone come together was the most exciting aspect of the weekend.

Jones said those in attendance were impressed by the ease of parking and entering the Festival, the overall aesthetic and the entertainment. He spoke with visitors who traveled great distances, some coming from as far away as Illinois.

Many traveled from other cities within Louisiana.

David and Victoria Burvant attended the Andouille Festival for the first time Saturday. Originally from Colorado, they now live in Slidell and were drawn to the Festival for its culinary offerings.

Victoria said David is a huge fan of andouille dishes, adding they were excited to try the vendors’ food.

David and Victoria Burvant attended the Andouille Festival for the first time Saturday.

Kim and Chris Pollard, their infant son, Chris Pollard Jr., and Laura Williams, also from Slidell, returned to the Andouille Festival after visiting for the first time last year. They were excited to walk around and see the craft vendors.

Kim said she appreciated the breezy weather, great food and positive atmosphere.

“It’s nice out here,” she said. “People who used to live here and moved away after the storms probably come back for the Festival and the nice weather.”

Other visitors, mainly natives of the River Parishes, have made the Andouille Festival an annual family tradition.

Kara Labat of LaPlace has attended the Andouille Festival every year for as long as she can remember, and for the last few, her almost 4-year-old son River Moya has come with her. She’s excited for River to grow and experience the Festival. This year, he was eager to have fun on the kiddie rides.

Vanessa Rodney, Briante Kimble and Meionkca Brown worked the Diva Delights food booth on Saturday. (Brooke Robichaux/L’OBSERVATEUR)

Labat’s friend, Simone Borne, met her at the Fan Zone tent and brought her daughter, Sophie Borne, who was equally as excited for the rides.

Food and craft vendors also had a chance to connect with visitors and promote their goods and services, thereby representing the vast culinary and artistic talent of local residents.

Vanessa Rodney, an East St. John High School senior, assisted her sister, Briante Kimble, and her mother, Meionkca Brown, with working the Diva Delights food booth on Saturday.

Kimble, a culinary student at Delgado Community College, took her passion for cooking to the next level and decided to start a business with her mother. After her jambalaya egg rolls went viral on Facebook, Kimble added crawfish and spinach egg rolls and classics like seafood pasta to the menu.

She enjoyed the family-friendly atmosphere of the Festival and received positive feedback from the community.

“Everybody loves it,” Kimble said.

“Some people were scared to try it because they’re not used to it, but I had people come back for more.”

Jones said he regularly has conversations with visitors to gauge community response to the music and food lineup and makes changes necessary to continue improving the Festival in upcoming years.

Any feedback or questions about the Andouille Festival can be directed to the St. John Parish Office at 985-652-9569.

— By Brooke Robichaux