This weekend two local festivals are on tap, starting today with the French Quarter Fest, which has added a day to the schedule. The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is also going forward this weekend in Tangipahoa Parish.

The extra day for the FQF means you’ll have more time to sample the food on offer. That’s good, because the prices and the portions are designed to encourage grazing from one vendor to another. A few items that caught my eye are the crawfish in puff pastry with mustard-dill sauce from Broussard’s; the Creole hot sausage po’ boy from Vaucresson Sausage Company; jerk chicken, rice and peas and callaloo from Boswell’s Jamaican Grill; 12-hour roast beef po’ boy with pickled red onions and horseradish cream from Boucherie; grilled chicken livers with sweet hot pepper jelly sauce and mustard greens with rice from The Praline Connection; and gulf fish tacos from GW Fins.

On the sweet end of things, Plum Street Snoballs will be at the fest, as will Flour Power Confectionery and Quintin’s Ice Cream. GW Fins is serving bananas Foster, and Crêpes a la Cart has crêpes filled with strawberries, Nutella or a combination. The kids from Boucherie will be selling their bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme doughnuts, too.

In Ponchatoula the focus is on strawberries, fragaria ananassa. We grow a lot of the fruit down here, and this time of year is when they’re just about at their best. In addition to strawberries and strawberry-related products, the festival up in Tangipahoa Parish has music and amusement park-style rides. Personally I consider amusement park rides torture devices, but your mileage may vary.

If you are curious about how to get to Ponchatoula, there’s a section of the festival’s website for you. I would not rely on the website for too much information, as it is more “quaint” than “informative,” but it’s likely that you will know what to expect at a strawberry festival without having to be told.

The food vendors who’ll be serving at the Jazz Fest this year have also been announced. Even with two weekends, the sheer number of vendors at Jazz Fest makes it difficult to choose what to eat. Do you go back to the old standards that have kept you happy for years, or try a new dish for some variety? I tend to get a few of the same things every year, such as the crawfish sack, oyster patties, and crawfish beignets from Patton’s catering; at least one spicy Natchitoches meat pie from Mrs. Wheat’s; and a cup of crawfish, spinach and zucchini bisque from Jamila’s. But while I’m wandering around the grounds, I usually try at least a few new items based on whim or on which booth has the shortest line.

So what are you looking forward to as the festival season is upon us?