By Jonathan Edwards
Free live music, fresh food from award-winning restaurants and strong drink will highlight the 2nd Annual Bastille Day Festival this Saturday evening at the intersection of Esplanade Avenue and Ponce de Leon Street.
The Faubourg-St. John Merchants Association will close off the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the street fair, which will feature an arts and crafts table for children, the bands Vavavoom and The String Beans, and petanque, a French lawn game similar to bocce.
“Last year was a lot of fun—huge turnout. The music is great. It was just packed. We’re all looking forward to it,” said Erin Peacock, the co-owner of Lux, a high-end spa on Ponce de Leon Street.
Peacock estimated that 500 people showed up last year. She expects an even higher turnout this year since the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau listed the event on their Web site. Katrinafilm features a three-minute video and photo montage of last year’s festivites.
Nearly a dozen neighborhood businesses will have booths offering fair-goers everything from fine cuisine, to wine and beer, to tee-shirts and soap.
Laurent Rochereux is a sous-chef at Café Degas, a neighborhood French bistro known for top-notch dining, and said they will serve a white bean and duck confit salad topped with a cherry vinagrette.
Chris Reel is the executive chef at la Vita, an Italian restaurant just down the street. His street-fair fare will include an eclectic combination of köfte (Turkish-style meatballs), along with Creole tomato gazpacho, a Mediterranean salad served with a lemon vinagrette, and margaritas. Prices will range from four to six dollars.
Fair Grinds Coffeehouse will serve ice cream sandwiches in a variety of flavors, including Creole cream cheese, “a local favorite” according to Robert Thompson, the coffee shop’s co-owner.
The festival is not only a chance to buy things, but also an opportunity for neighbors and local businesses to come together.
“This is a very active community in this neighborhood,” said Peacock. “People are very supportive of the businesses here. It’s a very positive thing for everybody. It doesn’t take much for people to decide they want to have a party.”