Festivals in New Orleans are a full season. In a “normal year,” festival season is in high swing, starting in March and lasting throughout the rest of the year. There are over 130 festivals in New Orleans, and a majority of them happen in the Spring and the Fall.
Hogs for the Cause is one of my favorites, mostly because I participate on one of the teams. The festival is a BBQ cooking event that is also a music festival with local and regional talent playing its two stages. Normally, Hogs, as we call it, takes place in March and is one of the first events in the city’s long and fun festival season.
This year’s festival took place the first weekend in June, just about 10 miles south of the city. It is the first major festival that took place since Covid restrictions in the area were lifted. Thousands of people showed up and raised $2.8 million for the cause.
Hogs has evolved since it began in 2010 and now takes place over two days with two different themes. Friday is Bacon night, and in 2021, they added chicken wings to the mix.
Saturday is the traditional BBQ day with teams selling anything and everything pork-related. Throughout the weekend, live music from the two different stages provides entertainment for those who come to the fest.
I am part of the Sweet Swine O’Mine team, which is the only all-female cooking team. My team, SSOM for short, has a color theme of black and pink, and we have a great time with glitter, bright pink everything, and fun black and pink aprons as we help sell our baked goods and Zapps Pies during the festival.
We are one of the smaller teams, and although our setup is not as large as other teams, we do our best with decorations that bring in the crowds.
We decided when Bacon night started that our Friday offerings would be sweets with some bacon sprinkled in. We have bacon, and pig-shaped cookies, which is a huge hit for the kids, as well as Bacon Bourbon Brownies and Bacon Rice Krispy Treats for sale.
On Saturday, we do our famous Zapp’s Pies. It’s a bag of regular or Cajun Crawtators Zapp’s Chips topped with pulled pork, cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, and green onions. We serve it in the chip bag so that it’s easy for people to carry around the festival and enjoy the music and the sights of the event.
The teams all have unique and fun names like Silence of Da Hams, PigLit, and Hogwatch, just to name a few. Many teams have fun costumes and even more fun and elaborate setups. It makes for a great time for anyone attending, whether they are on a team or not.
One of the staples of Hogs, unfortunately, is that it always seems to rain. This year was no exception, with heavy rains pounding the grounds overnight Friday into Saturday and making for a muddy good time all day Saturday.
It was a mess but didn’t dampen my spirits, and I made the most of being at my first festival and major event since Mardi Gras 2020.
If one thing was clear during the first weekend in June, it’s that Festival Season is definitely back in New Orleans. Coming up, we have those focused on food and others on music, but really, a festival in New Orleans always includes both.
From the Fried Chicken Festival to the Creole Tomato Festival to JazzFest, every festival in New Orleans has local flair, from food and drinks to the music blaring from the stages throughout each event.
Now that I know I’m comfortable being around crowds again, I am looking forward to attending even more and supporting all of the good causes affiliated with these festivals!
Do you have a festival that you try to attend every year? Tell us about it in the comments!
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