May brings more festivals to St. Bernard Parish: The Our Lady of Prompt Succor Tomato Festival offers entertainment, food and carnival rides, and the Bird Festival will meet the interests of naturalists.

Tomato Festival

The OLPS Tomato Festival will kick off Friday night and continue through Sunday night with performances by the students on Saturday and Sunday before bands take the stage.

“The Tomato Fest is an important community event for the school and church, and we hope everyone will come out and support us,” said festival chairman Joshua Moran, an Our Lady of Prompt succor graduate and father of third grader Gavin and seventh grader Riley.

The festival will be from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, May 3; 11:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday, May 4; and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, May 5. It's on the school grounds behind the church at 2320 Paris Road in Chalmette.

The band Paris Avenue will perform Friday. On Saturday, Remedy, Paper Chase and Karma will perform. On Sunday, it's the Cypress Pop Trio and the Remixers on stage before the Bucktown Allstars close out the fest. Students also will perform, beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday.

Food offerings will include raw and grilled oysters, tomato-a-la-Chalmette, jambalaya, crawfish fried rice and more.

The Tomato Queen Pageant on Saturday is open to girls ages 13 to 16 for the teen division and ages 17 to 21 for the miss division. Pick up applications at the school office and church rectory. The baby contest will take place Saturday during the festival. For information, call Kristen Deems at (504) 723-8668 or email

Admission will be $2 after 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The fair will feature a two for $5 Happy Hour for beer from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Daily amusement ride armbands are $20 for Friday, $25 for Saturday and $25 for Sunday. An all-weekend arm band will be available for $55. For information, call the school at (504) 271-2953, check out the Tomato Fest Facebook page or email

St. Bernard Bird Festival

The public is invited to attend the St. Bernard Bird Festival to learn more about ornithology — especially about Purple Martins — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, May 3, and from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 4.

The free fest will be on the grounds of the Historic St. Bernard Courthouse, 1201 Bayou Road, St. Bernard.

The festival began its work early this year, sponsoring Purple Martin houses for Gauthier Elementary, St. Bernard Middle and Nunez Community College. Students will experience these insect-eating birds who migrate here from the Amazon Valley of South America.

Krista Adams, an expert on Purple Martins, will be a special presenter on both Friday and Saturday. She will speak on the life cycle and migration of the birds and address how each festival visitor can erect a purple martin house and have their own small colony of insect eaters.

The festival will include experts from Audubon Louisiana, led by Erik Johnson, PhD. There will be the catching and banding of neo-tropical migrants, passing through en route to the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes.

Career Expo

Nunez Community College and Tri-Parish Works will hold a Career Expo from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, at Nunez in the Kane Technology Building at 3700 LaFontaine St., Chalmette

There will be full- and part-time career opportunities at this regional job expo. It is considered a one-stop hiring event for the students and community. Contact Katie Nettles at or (504) 278-6257 for information.


Top startup business

Schmelly’s Dirt Farm took home the grand prize at the fifth annual Startup St. Bernard presented by the Meraux Foundation and St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation.

The composting business was selected by a panel of judges from a pool of three finalists who pitched their businesses in front of an audience of over 100 recently at Docville Farm. Schmelly’s was awarded $40,000 in cash and over $43,000 in in-kind services to help owners scale their business, which will expand into St. Bernard Parish. The other two finalists, Breathing Waters and DaParish Kayaks, received $5,000 each.

“I congratulate Schmelly’s and look forward to their growth here in St. Bernard,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation, which founded Startup St. Bernard and is a presenting sponsor. “I’m proud that, now five years in, we’re proving that Startup St. Bernard is promoting the parish as a great place in which to do business, and also that the businesses who participate do well.”

Schmelly’s is a compost collection and processing company that is offering Greater New Orleans a greener option to the landfill. The real work, the business says, takes place with values-based job creation. Schmelly’s mission is to transform food and organic waste into healthy soil and natural fertilizer while generating meaningful work opportunities and removing barriers of workplace marginalization. More information about the company can be found at its website,

Nicola Krebill, the founder of Schmelly's, said the company planned to use the prize to help strengthen its mission and scale of its business to service the entire region from a new location in the parish.

Startup St. Bernard was created to promote the parish as an ideal place to start a business and to attract startups. The event is held each year in conjunction with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

Karen Turni Bazile writes about people and events in St. Bernard Parish. She can be reached at