More than 35,000 festivalgoers will descend upon the peaceful grassy stretch at Bayou St. John in Mid-City this weekend for the annual Bayou Boogaloo Festival. True to its mission, the festival is still local and sustainable, as organizers set out to be nine years ago.
“Bayou Boogaloo was originally about promoting local art and artists, and then it became more about enhancing the local community and improving the quality of life,” said Jarred Zeller, founder of the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo Festival.
A diverse mix of locally grown talent will be performing on three stages throughout the weekend, including headliners Big Freedia, Eric Lindell and Rosie Ledet & The Zydeco Playboys.
And although the music will tempt lazy toe-tapping along the banks of the bayou, there are too many activities to allow anyone to linger too long in one spot.
“Part of our mission is to promote recreation, so we are always looking for ways to get people moving,” Zeller said.
And there is no shortage of activities to get people moving and grooving.
The Bayou Boogaloo Bicycle Pub Crawl will start rolling from Morning Call in City Park on Saturday at 9 a.m. Bikers will be guided through the Mid-City area, ending at the festival at 1:45 p.m. Or make a dash for it at the annual Zulu Run-to-Ride 5K, beginning at 8:30 a.m., Saturday at the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, 819 S. Broad St.
Swan River Yoga instructors and yoga band Bahkti Caravan will ease fellow yogis into their Sunday with flow yoga exercise at the Lafitte Stage at 11 a.m.
Or festivalgoers can get their groove on in the Bicycle Second Line, joining more than 500 participants as they slowly ride behind a band on the back of a pickup truck.
With all this activity going on around the bayou, festival organizers have made a huge push for a sustainable event, ensuring minimal impact on the bayou and community at large.
“Part of our mission is to create social change, and one aspect we can control is reducing litter in New Orleans and educating people on how to do that,” Zeller said.
Bayou Boogaloo has invested heavily in its recycling efforts by putting a recycling bin next to each of the 60 trash receptacles on the festival grounds. Some bins will be staffed by people talking about what goes in them.
“We realized how much waste we produced at an event, so we thought it was the responsible thing to do,” Zeller said. Profits made from the festival’s VIP Canopy Club area will go back into planting more trees and installing permanent trash cans in the area.
Nonprofits and local businesses from around the city have teamed up with the festival organizers, offering food demonstrations, kids’ activities and public art.
“Super Sunday was one of the first events that I attended on Bayou St. John, and that really inspired me to use this space. Last year, we started a public art piece to celebrate the culture and the social fabric of the neighborhood,” Zeller said.
Tree sculptor and artist Marlin Miller and Jonathan Bertuccelli from Studio 3 will complete a tree-carving project that was started at last year’s Bayou Boogaloo.
“Local tribe Washitaw Nation’s Big Chief David Montana’s image will be carved on the tree in full headdress, so Marlin will carve and local sculptor Jonathan is going to paint the headdress on the tree,” Zeller said.
In addition to the public art, there will be an art market, a kids’ area with hands-on activities, including ribbon wands, beaded bracelets using UV lights and silk screen demonstrations where kids will learn how to design and screen print T-shirts.
“We will have four food and cocktail demonstrations per day from local chefs, with the whole theme based on using locally sourced ingredients,” Zeller said.
When the festival starts to wind down on Sunday, all eyes will be on the bayou as 15,000 yellow rubber ducks float to the finish line in the annual Rubber Duck Derby on Sunday at 4 p.m. Individuals can “adopt” a duck to support a team; after the race, prizes will be awarded, and proceeds benefit Second Harvest Food Bank.
Step out and make an impact by supporting local artists and nonprofits while leaving a small footprint on the environment.
“I always encourage people to ride their bikes or take public transportation, or better yet, take a canoe or kayak,” Zeller said.