Photo: Mayra Beltran, Houston Chronicle

Growing up in New Orleans spoiled me tremendously, I had the best of everything: Great food, an awesome community, and the best festivals. I became accustomed to lounging in the sun at Audubon park and finding interesting things to do every weekend for little or no money (Seriously, I just walked out my house most mornings, even weekdays, and into a street festival – it was wicked sweet). Moving to North Louisiana was a bit of an adjustment. Although I have fallen in love with this city (#Dreamport), there are a few things I miss, and Crawfest promises to deliver the experience I have been craving.

Does Shreveport have festivals? Yes, of course, but the cement-covered festival plaza isn’t the most comfortable place to lay in the sun and lounge with your friends (trust me I have tried). Most of the festivals held there are designed to be profitable not create community. Festival Plaza productions pull a lot of tourists from surrounding areas, but it’s also important for local culture to have events that bring together and celebrate our diverse groups. Plus, Sassafras the dog is not welcome there (or on the street next to festival plaza according to one agitated female officer who attempted to threaten me with handcuffs last year for walking my dog on a public street). But, do you know where I can hang out with my lovable four-legged sidekick: the park! Some of you might also be thinking, Shreveport already has a “crawfish” festival, so how will Crawfest be different? The answer is the location: Betty Virginia Park, which has never before in the history of Shreveport hosted a festival.

Parks build a sense of community by providing places for people to connect and interact in a shared environment. Parks channel positive community participation by getting diverse people to work together toward a shared vision. I occasionally bike or jog with Sassy to Betty V and it’s almost always full of people participating in various activities, from workout boot camps, yoga, jogging, birthday parties, and families enjoying a walk or the playground. Of all the people in the park, my favorite is the guy who walks his dog while drinking red wine from a real stemmed glass. I can’t even get mad about it because the point is . . . Betty V is OUR expansive community backyard, and in your own backyard, you should be able to do whatever you want, within reason people! Crawfest is bringing a family crawfish boil to our community backyard.

10. People watching. Yes, I am talking about you! What is everyone wearing? What is everyone doing? And I hope I see the wine guy and his dog.

9. Laying in the sun on a picnic blanket. BYOSB – Bring your own sunscreen and blanket.

8. Free fun! Community is about hanging out with your extended neighborhood family. We are all operating on a budget. Parks are free fun for everyone, the music is provided, and you eventually will buy food somewhere so it might as well be delicious, hot, boiled crawfish.

7. Art. I love beautiful things. I love buying local. I love appreciating (and secretly coveting) the talents of others. There will be local artists with tents of great stuff.

6. Games. Soccer ball in my backpack and I’m ready to kick it with anyone who wants to join. This is the beauty of open space.

5. Music. The entertainment is free. Most people pay to see these awesome bands and they are putting on a private concert in our backyard (you guys aren’t going to miss this – right?)

EPSON DSC Picture

4. Get ready Shreveport because the Honey Island Swamp Band (to quote Madison Poche, “A band I have been trying to go to Nola to see for almost two years now” . . . Note: Madison will be out of town for Crawfest, ironically in New Orleans for a conference, and we should all make her feel sad about it). Listen here.

3. Ice cream. You know Sweetport will be there somewhere. Can I get a honey lavender mixed with chocolate, please!

2. Sassafras. The Downtown Dreamport (spoiled) Dog will be making an appearance. Haven’t you heard her social life is busier than mine?

1. Y’all. Everyone. If I don’t know you yet, then I’m looking forward to meeting you. Please bring your family and blend into our larger Shreveport family as we come together as a community to celebrate connectivity and togetherness with great food and awesome music, in a one of kind venue that belongs to us all.

Crawfest
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Betty Virginia Park
Live music from 11am-7pm
Boiled crawfish by Shane’s Seafood
Beer – Burgers – Jambalaya
Local artists & kid friendly activities

Festival Pro Tips:
My backpack will contain: a blanket, sunscreen, sunglasses (the $10, I might lose these at a festival pair), hand sanitizer, baby wipes, a water bowl for the Sas, and cash (but not my whole wallet).
Dogs must be on a leash.
Please do not bring glass into the park (that includes wine glasses).
Get your butt on a bike or walk to avoid issues with parking a car.