Don festival parade-style attire and get a taste of the Big Easy at the Great Southwest Cajun Fest in Chandler on Saturday, April 22.
Showcasing the heart and soul of New Orleans, paired of course with Arizona fusion and flavor, Cajun Fest is filled with cultural festivities, food and entertainment.
“I’m so excited to bring Southwest Cajun Fest back to downtown Chandler this year,” says Landon Evans, event coordinator with the HDE Agency, a multimedia marketing company. “Now that we are in our third year, we’ve fine-tuned all the details and plan to make it the biggest and best year yet.”
Brought to Chandler by Abita Brewing, Cajun Fest celebrates Cajun culture, cuisine and handcrafted beer, and will feature live music by jazz, blues and contemporary swing revival bands. The event is from noon to 9 p.m. at Dr. AJ Chandler Park, 178 E. Commonwealth Avenue.
Music and food treats
Headlining the event is Zach Deputy, a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter based in Savannah, Georgia. On the food side, regional dishes will be featured from a variety of vendors, including Honey Bear’s BBQ, Creole Cajun Bistro, Angry Crab Shack and Ragin’ Cajun. Organizers say that crawfish was a big deal last year, with patrons waiting in long lines to get it. Evans increased the number of crawfish boil booths to diminish the lines.
The activity schedule begins with a procession at 2 p.m., followed by a watermelon-eating contest at 3 p.m., a wing-eating contest at 4 p.m., a crawfish-eating contest at 5 p.m. and another procession at 5:45 p.m. The processions will be led by the mayor and council, and include alumni from Louisiana State University and a puppy parade. Anyone can bring their pup, especially dressed up in a costume, and be in the parade.
Sign-ups for the eating contests will be handled on site, starting at noon the day of the event. A maximum of 15 people will be registered for each event and participants must be at least 18 years old. The first person to eat half a watermelon wins that contest, the first to eat 12 wings wins that contest and the first to eat 12 crawfish wins that contest. The events are not timed and winners receive gift cards to local businesses.
“I love producing events in Chandler, it’s my home and I take great pride in the strong community our events have helped to build,” Evans says. “A portion of the proceeds will go back into the downtown Chandler community through the Downtown Chandler Community Foundation, and that makes me very proud of the work we’re doing.”
Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the gate. Children 12 years old and under will be admitted free. Tickets for VIP admission, which are only available in advance, are $125 and include catered food, six adult beverages, access to private seating in the VIP area, private restrooms and front stage access.
So how popular is Cajun Fest? “Last year about 7,000 people attended,” Evans says. “This year we’re looking to hit about 10,000.”
The Great Southwest Cajun Fest, Dr. AJ Chandler Park, 178 E. Commonwealth Avenue, Chandler, southwestcajunfest.com, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 22, $8-$125.