New Orleans awoke to strangely wintry scenes on Wednesday, but things should warm up by the weekend. In fact, on Saturday it should be smoking hot and spicy over at Central City BBQ (1201 S. Rampart St.).

This ever-evolving complex on the edge of Central City resides within a perimeter of recycled shipping containers which has lately proved to be an apt venue for block party-sized events. 

On Saturday, Jan. 20, those grounds will get a pulse of island flavor and music as Marley Gras returns to Central City BBQ. The party is from 1-10 p.m.

Now in its third year, Marley Gras is the city’s own jerk chicken festival. The name riffs on a combination of Mardi Gras and Jamaica’s enduring music legend.

In practice the festival unfolds as a demonstration of how New Orleans and Caribbean cultures can sync up. Think jerk chicken yak-a-mein and jambalaya, pralines next to fresh-pressed cane juice and flavors from down in Trinidad next to those from backatown.

More than a dozen vendors will be serving food around the grounds (see a list of sample dishes below).

On two stages, the festival brings a line up of reggae and brass bands and DJs. The headliner is Teki, a reggae artist from Hawaii in town for Marley Gras. 

There’s also a Scotch bonnet pepper eating contest for truly devoted pepper heads. Just thinking about that kind of contest might make some wistful for the wintry mix again.

Tickets start at $10 ($5 for children).

Here’s the line up of food vendors, with sample dishes. They will be serving more dishes at the festival.

  • Boswell's: Oxtails, rice and peas, Caribbean steamed veggies
  • Island Paradise: Jerk chicken, Jamaican style rice, callaloo
  • Johnny's Jamaican Grill: Jerk chicken/curry chicken combo plate
  • Karibu Kitchen: Curried goat with coconut rice
  • Queen Trini Lisa: Trinidadian doubles, BBQ Jerk chicken wings
  • Ms. Linda the Yak-a-Mein Lady: Jerk chicken yak-a-mein
  • Central City BBQ: Jerk chicken wings, rib tips
  • 14 Parishes: Curried goat and rasta pasta
  • Cue's Cajun Corner: Jerk BBQ chicken, jerk chicken jambalaya
  • Irie Nyammings: Jerk chicken with dumplings and Jamaican patties
  • Loretta's Pralines and Beignets: Pralines and beignets
  • Fluffy Cakes Cupcakery: Marley Gras cupcakes
  • Bhoomi Cane Juice: Fresh pressed sugar cane with ginger, turmeric and lime

Marley Gras

Jan. 20, 1-10 p.m.

Central City BBQ, 1201 S. Rampart St.

For tickets and schedules, see marleygrasfestival.com

 

Correction: an earlier version of this story misidentified the headlining performer at the event. 

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.