Nola couldn’t get enough of the Catfish Queens mentioned in passing in the prior post. I started poking around the old interweb. The same site where the Catfish Queens reside is the home of the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals (LAFF). All of the queens of all of the festivals are featured on one page on the site. So I sent that link to Nola. “The crowns! The crowns!–did you see some of the crowns on those girls—there as big as their dresses!” she says. “You’ve got to blog about them.”
So here we are.
Now, people who live in Louisiana know that once spring and summer roll around the area is crawling with festivals celebrating even the most obscure aspects of local culture. Fall is usually when the various parish (counties to you “others”) fairs are held. This makes sense because most of the parish fairs also serve as local agricultural showcases; fall is harvest time, etc.
Festivals are usually seperate events from the parish fairs. Some festival topics are no-brainers for Louisiana. There’s got to be a Crawfish Festival, a Gumbo Festival and a Jambalaya Festival (there are more than one of each of these, actually, spread throughout the state). Then there’s the not-so obvious. What’s the Ray*La*Ne festival? (turns out it celebrates the kids).
Obvious regional economic influences make for strange combinations. The Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, down in Morgan City, for example. Umm Umm Good!–give me some extra diesel with my light-crude marinated shrimp kebab. There’s also the PETA-unfriendly-sounding Louisiana Fur and Wildlife Festival. Remember, all of these festivals are presided over by a young lady who has been crowned the “Shrimp and Petroleum Queen” or “Miss Louisiana Fur and Wildlife,” not to mention the “Bogalusa Paper Queen.”
There are the quaint festivals and their queens. Miss Church Point Buggy Festival; the St. Helena Parish Forest Festival lorded over by the Queen of the Pines. There’s Miss Festival of the Bonfires. (Wheel of Fortune before and after category entry: “Tom Wolfe’s Festival of the Bonfires of the Vanities”).
Would all these competing interests cause trouble if brought into the same room? Would the Black Bear Festival Queen intimidate Miss Bunny from the Iowa Rabbit Festival? Who’s higher on the pork totem—the Louisiana Swine Festival Queen, Miss Cochon de Lait Festival, the Porte Barre Lion’s Club Cracklin’ Festival Queen or Miss Andouille? Or do they all cower at the sight of Miss Boucherie Festival?
Whose cuisine reigns supreme? The Louisiana Gumbo Festival Queen’s or the Bridge City Gumbo Festival Creole Gumbo Queen’s? Can either be any good without a dash from the Cajun Hot Sauce Festival Queen?
What would happen if all of these queens were to meet and compete? Why, it’s called the LAFF Queen of Queens competition; won this year by The Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival Queen.