It doesn’t get much better than New Orleans in the springtime, and our city provides ample outdoor opportunities for fun. Whether you’re attending one of our many festivals, watching parades, or looking for an educational experience, NOLA has it all. You may be familiar with the bigger fests — French Quarter Fest, Jazz Fest and Greek Fest, to name a few — but there are many smaller festivals that are just as exhilarating!

March 22-26, 2017

This year marks the 31st annual Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in the French Quarter. “The arts are the heartbeat of New Orleans,” said Paul Willis, Executive Director. “Now more than ever, it is important for us to celebrate the creative spirit of so many diverse voices.” This annual celebration of contemporary literature, culture, theater, and the works of Tennessee Williams offers speakers like Bryan Batt, Amy Dickinson, Robert Wagner and many more. The 2017 program includes such opportunities as master classes, celebrity interviews, theater and music events, and wraps up with the Stanley and Stella shouting contest in Jackson Square.

March 25, 2017

If your child has ever dreamed about being behind the wheel of a fire truck or bulldozer, Touch A Truck is the event for you! The Junior League of New Orleans hosts the fifth annual Touch A Truck on March 25, 2017, and Chair Laura Carroll is particularly excited about the return to the Lakefront Airport. This unique and interactive opportunity allows children to experience their favorite “big trucks” and vehicles up close. A family friendly event, it’s sure to be exciting for kids and kids-at-heart. Laura notes that Touch A Truck is also a good way to “to meet the people who protect, serve, and build Metropolitan New Orleans.” This event gets bigger and better every year, and they are even offering birthday party packages for 2017!

March 31-April 1, 2017

You can eat your fill of delicious barbecue at Hogs for the Cause, which started in 2009 as a small fundraiser for pediatric brain cancer. Eight years later, co-founder Becker Hall is proud to note that Hogs for the Cause has emerged as the best barbecue festival this side of the Mississippi, with 92 local and regional BBQ teams competing in seven categories. It moves to the Lakefront Arena this year, and plans to be bigger and better than ever. Junior League Actives Emma Pegues and Susana Ruddock have both fielded teams for several years, and plan to be back this spring. Emma’s team, Holy Smokes, has been together four years. She loves the festive nature of the event and the camaraderie that comes from working together and competing for such a worthwhile cause. “As we say, Praise the Lard and Pass the (First Place Alabama Peach) Sauce!” Emma said. Susana’s team, Sweet Swine O Mine, is not only one of the oldest teams, but also is the only all women’s team competing.

JLNO Loves Outdoor EventsJLNO Loves Outdoor Events
LEFT: The Tennessee Williams Festival held annually in the French Quarter. Photo provided by: Ride Hamilton RIGHT: New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. Photo provided by: NOWFE

May 17-21, 2017

Founded after Hurricane Katrina to help bring back Mid-City, Bayou Boogaloo is three days of music, food vendors and arts and crafts on Bayou St. John. Founder Jared Zeller said, “[The Boogaloo] starts with the ingredients of a great New Orleans festival world-class music, incredible food and the work of talented artists and artisans. But when you’re here, it’s an experience that feels bigger than any of these parts. You’re standing there next to Bayou St. John, seeing people from all walks of life dancing and relaxing and playing together around the bayou, and even in the bayou.” One of the best things about this fest is that it “draws New Orleans people together because it’s accessible to everyone and it gets into something they have in common – our love of this city.” Even though the Boogaloo organizers work hard to make this fest amazing, “it’s the way that people bring their joy, their sense of community and their openness in sharing our cultural riches that makes it so special.” Jared explained, “It just feels like such a great showcase for what makes New Orleans tick and why it’s our home.”

May 25-28, 2017

The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience is one of the most incredible culinary events in the nation, attracting more than 7,000 gourmands and connoisseurs. Executive Director Jamie Hall notes that the four-day “bacchanalia” features dozens of local and regional chefs, many of whom are nationally known, and aims to place a spotlight on the region’s many indigenous ingredients. Thousands of wines and champagnes from more than 100 wineries are paired with food from more than 75 restaurants at various events throughout the extravaganza. Each year NOWFE, a “perennial ‘Top Ten’ Wine and Food festival,” as noted in Wine Enthusiast, also gives back to area nonprofit organizations, with more than $1 million donated since its inception.

Editor’s note: In the winter 2016 issue, Autumn’s story entitled A Profile in Planning was mistakenly credited to another writer.