Only in New Orleans: A weekend of festivals and flowers

By Annette Sisco

Community news editor

I don’t know about you, but New Orleans’ April calendar makes me absolutely dizzy. Crawfish boils, outdoor concerts, fun runs and every species of fundraiser compete for a few hours of our time and the beautiful weather.

This weekend occupies what might humorously be called a lull between French Quarter Fest and the Jazz Festival. That just means that things are hopping all over town, instead of mostly in one place.

At 4 p.m. Saturday, a free concert and fundraiser returns to my favorite neighborhood green space, Fortier Park, at Mystery Street and Esplanade Avenue in Faubourg St. John. On stage: Walter “Wolfman” Washington.

Thanks to a group of volunteers, Fortier Park is a beloved oasis of flowers, statuary, benches and fountains. Sales of beer and food raise money for the volunteers to buy plants and supplies for Fortier, and they’ve extended their efforts to three other pocket parks in the area.

But most importantly, it’s a big, happy get-together for the community. The Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association sponsors the event.

Bugs & Brew for Drew

Also on Saturday, the Drew Rodrigue Foundation holds a crawfish boil contest and beer festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the banks of the Mississippi River at River City Plaza at Mardi Gras World.

With a crawfish competition, local music and children’s entertainment, the festival will benefit the Drew Rodrigue Foundation, a local nonprofit that helps people who are fighting back against medical adversity, in honor of Drew Rodrigue, a local football coach who battled cancer.

More than 50 teams from around the region will compete for the titles of “Best Crawfish” and “Best Lagniappe.”

And obviously, with all those spicy crawfish, you’ll need a beverage or a few. The festival offers a local craft beer garden, representing all seven of Louisiana’s breweries: Abita, Bayou Teche, Chafunkta, Covington, NOLA, Parish and Tin Roof.

Admission is free, and there’s a powerhouse musical lineup including Papa Grows Funk, Honey Island Swamp Band, Johnny Sketch and Stone Rabbits.

Food and drink tickets will be sold at the fest or get a Cajun pass for $60 to spend all day eating, drinking and knowing you’re doing it for a good cause. For information, visit http://www.thedrewrodriguefoundation.org.

Flower power

From Louisiana irises to roses to simple wildflowers, City Park is full of color this time of year. To bring some of that color inside, at 11 a.m. Saturday, prize-winning orchid grower Larry Hennessey teaches a class in potting and mounting orchids in City Park’s Botanical Garden. The class is $10.

Then, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, also at the Botanical Garden, learn how to create the restful contours of a Japanese garden at a hands-on design workshop with landscape designer Robin Tanner, who studied the art form in Japan.

It’s $30; preregistration is required. Call (504) 483-9473.

Clean up a park in Algiers

McDonogh Park, 1500 Teche St. in Algiers, gets some TLC on Saturday when NOLA for Life brings together city workers, volunteers and nonprofits.

The city will repair street lights, replace missing street signs, remove abandoned cars, cut overgrown lots and perform code enforcement sweeps in the area.

Meanwhile, volunteers will spruce up the park.

Partnering with the city are Rebuilding Together New Orleans, Hike for KaTREEna and Revolution Foods. The day will conclude with a celebration featuring food and music.

To volunteer, call Kyle Shelly at (504) 658-4966.

Annette Sisco is Community editor. She can be reached at asisco@theadvocate.com.