Oak Street Po-Boy Festival
Where do Po-Boys come from?
If you’re from Louisiana or perhaps as far away as north-eastern Texas, you’ll know that Po-Boys are as important a meal as convenience store and gas station meals as they get. As the story goes, it’s rumored that back during the 1930s, a sandwich was invented to feed a group of striking streetcar operators. The bread is similar to French bread but is baked with less flour and more water to make a softer roll that is easier to chew.
Many locals around Louisiana take claim for the Po-Boy creation which is often considered a variant slang for Poor Boy or those who work on low-level manual labor jobs. Some have claimed that Po-Boy is a French word pourboire which is an appreciation tip given to a waiter. No matter where the name originates from, the sandwich can include any kind of local Louisiana filling with simple toppings such as pickles mayonnaise, or mustard.
As far as what goes inside a Po-Boy, it can be whatever is on the menu at most places that serve them. You’ll find everything from fried shrimp and oysters, lobster and fried catfish, to roast beef or chicken. There are so many to choose from, there doesn’t seem to be a limit to what isn’t allowed on a Po-Boy. Some of the strangest flavors you might see include Okra, alligator, snake, soft shell crab, or even chitterlings! You’ll find a similar smorgasbord tactic used when it comes to making omelettes New Orleans Style.
To be honest, the most accepted origin for Po-Boys is certainly New Orleans-based. At least this location doesn’t seem to be contested by the rest of Louisiana for that matter — you’ll see this sandwich featured in their yearly Oster Festival as well. But whatever you’ll find on the exotic side shouldn’t keep you from asking for a sample. One of the best things about Southern Hospitality is that if you’ve never tried something, these kind folks in New Orleans are always ready to tell others all about their hometown favorites.
What is the Po-Boy festival all about?
Ever since 2007, when this event became official, the ever-popular Po-Boy has been a staple of many local restaurants serving a variety of dishes. At the official Po-Boy Festival, you’ll find there are more variations of this iconic sandwich than you can handle in a single day. There are at least 60 versions of this sandwich that you can try during the one-day event held annually at 8100 Oak Street in New Orleans.
There is no need to buy tickets for this event but that doesn’t mean it’s not being treated like just another festival. There is music, contests, vendor crafts, and even a limited edition Po-Boy Festival lager! Throughout the day, there are over 12 different bands that are performing on the main stage including local musicians who are passionate about Po-Boys. The festival date is typically in mid-November so there is plenty of time until it begins.
It’s also a festival that was sprung from Hurricane Katrina tragedy and had become a success due to the fact it helps local New Orleans businesses come back to life. When 2020 rolled around it continued despite the response to COVID-19 and was ultimately canceled in 2021. Amazingly, it was canceled due to Hurricane Ida but has immediate plans for November of 2022 to be the next available festival date.
Admission is free, but then again…
There are a total of 4 stages that musical guests will be playing on throughout the day and that doesn’t cost a thing. The one advice we recommend is that you consider getting a VIP Fast-Pass that can be purchased from any of the Po-Boy vendors. What this does is give you access to all lines without waiting and also a direct spot to relax in the VIP Lounge. This Fat Pass will only set you back about $5 per wristband which is a total steal!
There are also plenty of local lodgings and places to stay all throughout New Orleans so plan ahead of this event so you can check out everything if you’re looking to stay longer than a day. In November, there are plenty of cool events to include in your trips such as celebrating Halloween on October 31st and the Bayou Bacchanal that’s on Nov. 4-5th. Hopefully, this year’s Po-Boy event will be somewhere between these two dates. We’ll keep you updated.