This is why we’re in New Orleans: Because on a weekend like this one, we have a music festival and a food festival within a block of each other. And the music festival also has food, and the food festival also has music. And of course, both are free. The Cajun/Zydeco Festival and the Creole Tomato Festival are officially two separate events, but since the first is at the Old U.S. Mint and the second is in the French Market, taking them both in is a no-brainer.
The Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival is the only fest in central New Orleans devoted to those styles of music, and many of the biggest names in both genres will be playing this weekend, June 8 and 9. Cajun headliners range from the young and eclectic buzz band Lost Bayou Ramblers to longtime local favorite Bruce Daigrepont and Michael Doucet’s always masterful BeauSoleil. On the zydeco side are perennial dancehall rulers Geno Delafose, Nathan Williams & his Zydeco Cha-Chas, Rosie Ledet and Dwayne Dopsie. There’s continuous music from 10:30am-7pm on two stages on Barracks Street and Esplanade, plus a third stage Saturday at Ursulines. There will also be a dozen food items, from sno-balls to Ms. Linda’s famous ya-ka-mein, and 30 arts/crafts dealers. Full details and directions are here.
The Creole Tomato Festival also has a lineup of music at its Ursulines Street stage; on Saturday the lineup is shared with the Cajun-Zydeco Festival, but Sunday features a separate mix of jazz, R&B and brass bands (the Music Street Jazz Band opens at 10am and the Lagniappe Brass Band close at 5:15pm; click here for full schedule). But the star of the show will of course be the mighty tomato plant, which will be prepared every possible way—from bloody marys to crepes to tomato cream crawfish pies to the ever-popular fried green tomato. There will even be tomato gelato for dessert. There will also be a kids’ tent in Dutch Alley, with miniature golf and tomato-related crafts. WWOZ’s George Ingmire will host a discussion on food and music and their intersections inside the market on Saturday at 4pm. And of course there’s a tomato eating contest—two, in fact—at noon both Saturday and Sunday, at the Farmers Market food stage.