I am not sure why Oprah once called Natchitoches the “Best Little Town in the Whole USA!” So I can’t say for certain that it wasn’t because of the Natchitoches meat pie.
Natchitoches is known for many things. It has a pleasant small town center with bed and breakfasts and art colony. It’s older than New Orleans and, then again, there’s the meat pies. Chef John Folse acknowledges the connection in his meat pie recipe. He points out that many cultures and cuisines have some variation of the meat pie. He believes that the Natchitoches version is a Native American creation improved upon by the Spanish. Regardless, the city celebrates the savory meat pocket with a festival this weekend.
The 6th annual festival, which was rescheduled from September because of Hurricane Ike, takes place on the downtown riverbank along the Cane River Lake. The schedule of events is as full as the celebrated pastries themselves, combining food with arts, crafts, games, and live music.
The festivities begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, October 17, with the presentation of the 2008 Meat Pie Festival Royalty and a performance by Seven Hours To Southland. Saturday’s activities include a poker run, a car show, an afternoon parade, and dance performances. Returning again is the popular meat pie eating contest. The family-friendly event also has a children's activity area with arts and crafts, moon walks, and a petting zoo.
The festival takes place in the heart of the historic district of Nachtiches, an area that features eclectic shops, stately homes, galleries, and even a haunted cemetery.
Nachtitoches is roughly a four-hour drive New Orleans. The festival is free and open to the public.— Bryan Davis