Jambalaya Festival schedule of events released

Brandie Richardson
Jambalaya cooks getting ready for the heats at last year's Jambalaya Festival.

The Jambalaya Festival Association has announced the schedule of events for this year's annual Jambalaya Festival, a staple event in the community that draws thousands to Ascension Parish on Memorial weekend.

Kicking off the fun-filled weekend on Friday is everyone's favorite, the jambalaya heats. Cooks will compete in four heats throughout the day. The Mini-Pot Champ of Champs is set to be announced at 6 p.m. on Friday night.

Heats will continue on Saturday morning, beginning at 6:30 a.m., with the semi-finalists announced at 6:30 p.m. Also on Saturday is the Champ of Champs cook-off from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., where past jambalaya champions will compete against each other to take home the title of 2017 Champ of Champs. Additionally there will also be the Mini-Pot cooking contest from 10 a.m. to noon, along New River behind Harry Robert Insurance.

The 2017 Jambalaya World Champion is slated to be announced on Sunday around 6:30 p.m.

Once again, festival goers will see more than 20 live performances from bands in a variety of genres, including headliners the Chee Weez, Marc Broussard and Rockin' Dopsie. Other performances include Foret Tradition, Stonewall Broussard, Orphan Annie, Justin Cornett, Na Na Sha and Kenny Fife & Bac Trac, to name a few.

New to this year's festival is the Jambalaya Queen pageant. In previous years the pageant was held a few weeks before the festival, however, this year coordinators opted for a new tactic by having the pageant during the event itself. On Friday evening, contestants will go before a panel of three judges for the interview portion, followed by an evening gown modeling and onstage questionnaire on Saturday morning on the Main Stage at 10 a.m.

“We will no longer host a Children’s Pageant” said Laurina Conger, Pageant Director. “We would like to focus our attention and efforts on our Miss Gonzales Jambalaya Queen as we return to our festival roots for this milestone event. What better way to celebrate our 50th Anniversary than to honor our deeply held traditions!”

Miss Gonzales Jambalaya will spend the year representing the Gonzales Jambalaya Festival by traveling around the state to many of the state’s largest and most unique festivals and fairs. She will compete in the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals Queen of Queens pageant held in Baton Rouge in early 2018 and will have the opportunity to travel with a contingent of community leaders from the Parish to visit Gonzales’ sister city in Meylan, France.

The JFA will hold a cooks meeting on May 15 at 6 p.m. for the past champion cooks and a mandatory informational meeting in the Jambalaya Building on May 22 at 6 p.m. for all interested pageant contestants.

Other events include a 5K and one mile run on Saturday beginning at 8 a.m., a recognition ceremony for past Jambalaya Queens and rides beginning on Thursday, May 25. The 50th annual Jambalaya Festival will be held May 26- 28.