Sunday, November 6, marked the return of Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, presented by Tony Chachere’s. After a long two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, patrons were delighted to have their favorite restaurants all in one location, sharing their version of the classic New Orleans po-boy.
Festivals have always been an outlet for restaurants to share their food to the masses, having the opportunity to create new customers out of prospects walking the festival grounds. Many festival attendees are loyal customers of the restaurants who come out in support of their favorite eatery.
A handful of LRA Members were soaking up the Oak Street sun with the other food vendors, and serving their po-boy creations to the flowing crowds. 14 Parishes, Ajun Cajun, Bienvenu on Hickory, Boucherie, Jacques-Imo’s, Jack Dempsey’s Restaurant, Juan's Flying Burrito, Mahony’s Po-Boys and Seafood, Oceana Grill, Parkway Bakery & Tavern and Pyre BBQ were all set up on Oak Street for the big day.
Owner of Parkway Bakery & Tavern Jay Nix was happy to be back out on Oak Street for Po-Boy Festival. The festival arena is a great way for him to take his business outside of the neighborhood and gain exposure, while catering to their usual clientele.
"I like participating in food festivals because Parkway goes where the customer is," Nix said. "Instead of the customer having to go where Parkway is. That's customer convenience at its best."
The Northshore restaurant Pyre Provisions & BBQ came out to Po-Boy Festival as a first-time food vendor. Owner and Head Chef Jeff Mattia was excited for the opportunity to bring their food truck out and share some special eats. Pyre had three offerings, including two po-boys and a dessert. The Rockefeller oyster po-boy was filled with crispy oysters, spinach and artichoke, and the cochon de lait po-boy was made with smoked pork and roasted pork belly, topped with marinated cabbage and sweet pickles. The stuffed beignets were a hit with the crowds, filled with a special cane syrup pastry cream. Mattia says, "Pyre BBQ is always willing to support our community and local nonprofits."
Po-Boy Festival organizers partnered with Son of a Saint this year, a local non-profit which provides mentorship, education, cultural enrichment and emotional support for at-risk young boys without a father or father figure. Festival Organizer Kari Shisler was pleased with this year’s turnout, and the return of a familiar feeling she had been missing.
“As a lover of neighborhood festivals and a lover of the Oak Street corridor that I call home, it was a rush to see those 7 blocks once again filled with music, food, and visitors,” Shisler said. “Our choice to partner with Son of a Saint came from a realization that while this festival also benefits the betterment of the neighborhood, its success also allows for a non-profit partner. The festival believes in the mission and the work that they do.”
Since 2007, the Oak Street Merchants have put on the festival in hopes of bringing attention to one of the last historic districts in New Orleans. The Town of Carrollton used to be a vacation destination during Antebellum New Orleans, and residents of the French Quarter would venture there when they needed to escape the city. In the 1850s, Carrollton became the first seat of Jefferson Parish, before it was annexed by New Orleans in 1874.
Oak Street merchants and residents share a mission to stimulate the Oak Street corridor between S. Carrollton Avenue and Leake Avenue. Even if they aren’t a restaurant, every Oak Street business takes part in Po-Boy Festival.
Judges of the Po-Boy Festival were looking for creativity and taste in each category. Judges included Krewe of Oak Street member Leroy Mitchell, aka Saints Superfan Whistle Monsta, FOX 8’s Rob Krieger, Nicole Caridad Ralston, Ph.D of the popular Instagram and TikTok foodie account Eaten Path Nola, and Ian McNulty, food critic and writer for The Times Picayune/Nola.com.
The winners are as follows:
See a full album of Po-Boy Festival on our Facebook page here.