What do you call a chunk of pork that is deep-fried – twice – in its own oil? A cracklin, of course. And it’s more than just a salty, crispy treat at the Port Barre Cracklin Festival. It’s a symbol of, and reason to, celebrate all things Cajun.
If you don’t know, Cajuns are people descended from the French Canadians who settled in the bayou lands of Louisiana. They have a distinct style of playing music and cooking, and many speak a regional variance of French. The Port Barre Cracklin Festival embraces all the traditions of Cajun culture. Expect to be called ‘baby’ by complete strangers and find yourself spontaneously dancing in the middle of the street. Because that’s how they do it down in Port Barre.
You might need a nap after visiting the food vendors, who dole out all facets of Cajun cooking. Try rounds of fried dough stuffed with minced pork, liver, and rice, known as boudin balls; inhale a homey and hearty cup of red beans and rice (probably mixed with bacon or Andouille sausage); split a perfectly toasted po-boy with fresh shrimp inside; drown in the creamy, spicy crawfish fettuccine, and, for a sweet and chilly treat, munch on shaved ice slathered with flavored syrup (Cue the eternal debate: “Sno-Balls” or “Sno-Cones”?) and much more. When – not if – you need to walk it all off, check out the nonstop musical acts, the majority of whom play Zydeco music, a plucky, country-jazz sound absolutely unique to the region.
In addition to carnival rides and games for kids, there are three big events at the Port Barre Cracklin Fest: the Cracklin Cookoff, the Cracklin Festival Pageants, and the Cracklin Festival Parade.
The Cracklin Cookoff is exactly what it promises to be: a competition to see who can make the tastiest, crunchiest cracklins anonymously judged in categories like crispiness, meat content, and seasoning. The Lions Club, who hosts the festival, takes the Cracklin Cookoff judging very seriously, so you can be sure the best cracklin wins.
While the majority of The Cracklin Festival Pageants’ schedule takes place before the Port Barre Cracklin Festival, the Cracklin Festival Queen is crowned the weekend of the festival so that she can ride in the Cracklin Festival Parade, arguably the most Louisiana part of the whole weekend. Because nobody throws a parade better than the folks of Louisiana, home of the country’s biggest Mardi Gras. This parade features the usual: local folks, clubs and organizations paying to ride or walk in the parade as a way of showing up and showing out for their community. Come empty-handed so you can catch plenty of beads, candies, and other useless but charming trinkets.
- An estimated 7,500 people attend each year.
- Tickets are $5 per person per day at the gate. Children under 10 years old enter for free.
- Learn more about potential accommodations at the St. Landry Parish travel website.
- If you just can’t resist exploring more of Louisiana while you’re there, check out Fifty Grande’s A Road Tripper’s Guide to Louisiana’s Northshore.
Where is the nearest airport to the Port Barre Cracklin Festival?
Lafayette Regional Airport is 31.5 miles from the festival. Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport is 50 miles away. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is 119 miles from fun.
Are there any items prohibited at the festival?
Pets, ice chests, and glass containers are all prohibited.
What’s the musical lineup?
The lineup has not been released at the time of this writing.