The Cajuns love food and they love a party, so the weekend calendar in Acadiana is filled with festivals, most celebrating something deliciously edible. Among them:
Louisiana Praline Festival, Houma: The praline is a sweet candy patty usually made of brown sugar and pecans. But at this annual festival, the varieties seem unlimited. There are also plenty of other Cajun foods, including boiled crawfish. First weekend in May.
Louisiana Sugar Cane Festival, New Iberia: More sweet stuff to celebrate the sugar-cane harvest. The event features -- of course -- a sugar cookery contest but other food treats, too, as well as a boat parade down Bayou Teche. Last weekend in September.
French Food Festival, Larose: Local Acadian specialties, and plenty of them, including alligator sauce piquante (a sort of stew), seafood gumbo, redfish courtbouillon, marinated oysters and crawfish etouffee. Last full weekend in October.
Lagniappe on the Bayou, Chauvin: Even more food. Shrimp and okra gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice. It's a community event offering "a little something extra," including a fais-do-do -- a street dance. Second weekend in October.
Boudin Festival, Broussard: The boudin is a spicy sausage, and you go to this festival to sample the best. If you have the stomach for it, enter the boudin-eating contest. Or watch a boudin-making demonstration. On the weekend, two weeks before Mardi Gras.
Cajun Music Festival, Mamou: Cajun music, certainly, with a half-dozen or more bands in outdoor concert, but also old-time, home-spun contests such as egg-throwing, arm-wrestling and watermelon-eating. First Friday and Saturday in June.
Festival de Barbue, Franklin:"Barbue" is Cajun for catfish, a very popular dish served up in plenty here. A highlight is the pirogue race on the bayou. A pirogue is a long, narrow Cajun boat, originally hollowed from a cypress log. Second weekend in June.
Shrimp Festival of Delcambre, Delcambre: This one draws big crowds -- of people and shrimp. Shrimp sauce piquante and boiled shrimp are favorites, and there is the ceremony of the blessing of the fleet. Third weekend in August.
Andouille Festival, LaPlace: You know sausage is important when they throw festivals in its honor. Andouille, a large sausage, is highly seasoned and used as an ingredient in jambalaya and gumbo, both readily available. Last weekend in October.