While many of our dishes do bring a lot of heat, most Louisianans will tell you that our food is generally more well seasoned than fiery hot. But there’s no dispute that chili peppers – especially the cayenne pepper and the tabasco pepper, which is used to make TABASCO® brand Original Red Sauce – are indispensable to the unique flavors of South Louisiana cooking.
Which is why, the third Sunday of October each year, fans converge on St. Martinville for a celebration of the pepper in all its glory. Alongside the rich array of South Louisiana delicacies focusing on the chili pepper that are on offer, you’ll also find standard South Louisiana festival cuisine – jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, crawfish and shrimp po-boys, seafood pasta and more. Attendees will be able to learn a little bit about South Louisiana cooking, as local chefs will be giving cooking demonstrations throughout the day.
For many, the main event of the annual festival is the pepper-eating contest, during which the bravest souls compete to see who can eat the most Louisiana peppers in a five minute period. This is one competition that’s not for the faint of heart. Since it’s always good to have hot sounds to go with hot flavors, the Pepper Fest offers a top-notch musical line up. Past performers include 2008 Grammy Nominee Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, as well as Nik-L Beer Band, a long-standing St. Martinville party band that covers the greatest oldies, hard-driving Zydeco tunes, Motown hits, country, funk, swamp pop, Cajun, Mardi Gras music and more.
You’ll also find a number of arts and crafts booths, as well as booths selling pepper plants, pepper cookbooks and locally made foods. The fest kicks off with a 5K road race, followed by the Motorcycle Poker Run. Be sure to take some time to wander around historic St. Martinville. The festival is located on the town square that backs up to Bayou Teche. Located just down the bayou is the Evangeline Oak, marking the spot where two Cajun lovers were reunited, as described in Longfellow’s famous poem.
For more information, visit www.pepperfestival.org.