Jambalaya Festival organizer hoping for a ‘knockout’ Memorial Day weekend fest

Jambalaya Festival organizer hoping for a 'knockout' Memorial Day weekend fest
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This time of year, Jambalaya Festival Association President Wally Taillon is laser-focused on one thing — the festival that celebrates the rice concoction made famous in Gonzales.

He’s got his checklist ready and knows what has to be done before the festival, which kicks off Friday along Irma Boulevard in Gonzales.

The event features everything you would expect from a south Louisiana festival — music, food, carnival rides, a car show, arts and crafts and beauty queens. But the main focus of the Gonzales festival is cooking jambalaya — a rice dish prepared over wood fires with all contestants using the same ingredients.

Jared White stirs chicken as he starts his jambalaya with help from Brittany White at the Jambalaya Festival on Saturday, May 28, 2022, in Gonzales, Louisiana.

While the recipe seems simple — sauté vegetables, brown chicken and cook some rice — it’s not, and cooks have been honing their techniques for years in hopes of winning the festival cooking crown.

To win the title, cooks have to compete in the late May heat three times, first cooking with 10 pounds of rice, then 15 and finally 20 pounds in a large cast-iron pot.

Reigning cooking king Austin King will face tough competition.

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Tunney King, left, and Austin King, right, lift up the golden paddle awarded to the 2022 World Jambalaya Champion as family and friends look on.

More than 80 cooks are signed up for this year’s contest, which starts at 10 a.m. Friday with heats 1-4 and continues at 6:30 a.m. Saturday with heats 5-8. The semifinals start at 6 a.m. Sunday, and the finalists will be announced at noon. The finals fire up at 1:30 p.m. with the winner announcements coming around 7 p.m.

But food is not the only draw for the festival. Lots of fans of swamp pop music come for the bands, Taillon said. 

“I’m proud of this year’s lineup,” said Taillon, who is also the festival’s band coordinator. Bands perform each day on three stages. Besides local favorites such as Ryan Foret and Foret Tradition, and Mike Broussard and Nite Train, two bands from the Pierre Part area — South 70 Band and Dustin Sonnier — should please the crowd, he said. 

The Mojoes close out things Sunday on the main stage.

Speaking of music, the festival will be honoring a longtime swamp pop music expert, Taillon said. Radio broadcaster Roland Doucet, whose weekly swamp pop radio show is a must-listen for many in the area, is doing his last show from the festival and will be celebrated around 6 p.m. Sunday.

Swamp pop is a music genre that combines New Orleans — style rhythm and blues, country and traditional French Louisiana musical influences. The beat brings out folks who love to dance.

“We’ve got all the ingredients for another great year,” Taillon said, adding that the JFA has been able to beef up its promotions and plans for a possible record crowd. “All we need now is great weather and we should have a knockout weekend.”


About Mary Weyand 14450 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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