by Scott Gold
It might be one of the newest food festivals in town, but the annual Oak Street Po-boy Festival, now in its seventh year, has become a New Orleans favorite. About fifty thousand po-boy lovers are expected to attend the event, which will take place on Sunday, November 24th.
Not that the festival is resting on its (dressed and deep-fried) laurels. This year will offer attendees thirty-eight professional vendors, not counting the participating restaurants already based on Oak St..
A notable addition this year will be a "food truck village" on Leonidas St., including La Cocinita offering a pressed Cuban po-boy, Foodie Call with a porchetta po-boy, Food Drunk serving a "drunken pig po-boy," and Frencheeze, which will be dishing up a roast beef and blue cheese version of the classic sandwich.
Said Paulina Trujillo, the festival's director of operations, "The natural expansion for the festival was down the Leonidas corridor. It’s also our attempt at urban renewal for the neighborhood, to bring some more visibility and commerce to the street. It all started with Oak St., and it’s really helped out the business district there, so Leonidas seems like the next step."
Those excited for the festival will also be glad to note that the pedestrian traffic (brought to a stand-still at points by the hungry masses in previous years) has been taken into account. "We’ve moved most of our vendors to the corners so that their lines are able to wrap around the street, which really should help out the flow," said Trujillo.
In addition to returning favorites from years past, po-boy fans can expect some notable new vendors this year. Joining the fray will be McClure's BBQ with a barbecue brisket cheese-steak, a smothered rabbit po-boy from Voleo's Seafood Restaurant, and even Galatoire's is throwing their hat in the ring with a shrimp BLT.
Also worth noting: The recently shuttered Crazy Johnnie's Steak House will be offering something of a last hurrah at the festival with a pulled pork po-boy, "tamale cone" and other dishes.
As for planning your po-boy plan of attack, Trujillo recommends arriving with friends and sharing sandwiches. "There’s no way that any single person can hit all 38 official vendors plus the oak st. vendors and the food trucks. A team is necessary," she said.
In addition to copious sandwich offerings, the event will feature three stages of live music all day, roving beer vendors, and a food drive for Second Harvest Food bank.
The Oak Street Po-boy Festival will be held on Sunday, November 24th, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oak St. between Carrollton Ave. and Leake Ave.