One thing I have always loved about New Orleans is their sense of communal fun; if you are having a good time, they are having a good time. You can feel free to let go and express yourself. People dance and have a good time without a care about how people might judge them — because no one is judging anyone. At yesterday’s Bayou Fest in Long Beach, the stage was filled with revelers. While a brass band played, the king and queen of Mardi Gras, people in brightly colored costumes, and even a Mardi Gras Indian danced and put out such a spirit of joy and community that for a moment I really felt like I was back in New Orleans. I have to admit that I got a little choked up.
This year’s King and Queen of LB Bayou, Jerome and Gisele Auzenne are Louisiana natives and “represent what this festival is all about!” The festival is dedicated to the memory of Harold Eugene Hambrick Jr., a founder of LALA (Louisiana to LA). Yesterday there was music coming from two stages, crawfish and watermelon eating contests, face painting, and all kinds of events for the kids. Food vendors included Harold and Belle’s (who even had French Fries Étouffée), The California Fish Market, Louisiana Cajun Food (serving gator), Big Mama’s Gumbo and Sharon’s Heavenly Cobbler (try the peach and mango!).
Gates open at 11am today (Sunday) so you still have a whole day to enjoy the festivities. Don’t worry about the weather. The ocean breeze and numerous shade trees keep the Rainbow Lagoon comfortable. Bands include Bonne Musique Zydeco, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, and Zac Harmon. The Mardi Gras Parade with New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band and the LALA Second Line Dancers starts at 3pm. Don’t miss it!
Photo essay after the jump