June 22, 2008

Fest Serves Up Sounds, Tastes of New Orleans


By Jaedda Armstrong

The Virginian-Pilot


How many habanero peppers can you eat before your stomach bubbles like boiling water?

That's what Richard Collins wanted to find out Saturday afternoon.

"Who participates in a pepper eating contest with one of the hottest peppers in the world?" asked his wife, Linda . "Guess he has guts. Literally."

The contest was just one of the many activities this weekend at the 19th annual Bayou Boogaloo and Cajun Festival at Town Point Park. The festival brings the bayou culture of Louisiana to Norfolk through music from New Orleans bands, art, and what some visitors say is the highlight of the festival, the Cajun and Creole food.

"I came down here just to get me some Cajun catfish," visitor Fred Parker said before he bit into a thick piece of catfish fresh out of the oil . "My mama can't even make catfish this good."

Plenty of vendors were serving Creole shrimp, crawfish, seafood jambalaya and even fried alligator nuggets.

"We are true authentic Cajuns serving authentic New Orleans food," said Wendy Thibodeaux, whose parents own Louisiana Cajun Cookin, a 17-year-old family business.

It's their fourth year at the festival, and members of the family said chicken and shrimp-on-a-stick and crawfish tails smothered in gravy over rice are the most requested.

Vendors were selling clothing, jewelry and paintings.

Vicki Carlson, a New Orleans artist whose home was damaged after Hurricane Katrina, was among the many artists honored at the Hurricane Relief Party that kicked off the festival Thursday night. This is Carlson's second year vending at the festival, and she brought paintings of mermaids in honor of Norfolk's symbol .

"We love it here in Norfolk. Just being here listening to the music, meeting all the people - it's wonderful," said Carlson, who had already sold a number of paintings. "Having jazz music, a festival and art all in one is hard to find."

Jaedda Armstrong, (757) 446-2346,

[email protected]

- online

For a video of the Bayou Boogaloo, see Pilot Online.com.

Originally published by BY JAEDDA ARMSTRONG.

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