We made a quick run up to the garden spot of Tangipahoa Parish: Ponchatoula,for the 44th edition of the Strawberry Festival this past weekend. It was beautiful.
Rolling into town we immediately notice groups of locals frantically waving flashlights and placards in an effort to coax attendees into parking in their driveways and side yards. $10 per car.
Big city pricing.
We’re flat starving so we race into the first storefront we spy. Bea’s French Bakery is right on the main drag; unfortunately the display cases are almost wiped out. We manage to snag a strawberry lemonade cupcake and begin to promenade down the sidewalk to see what the locals are up to in these parts.
Selling stuff, mainly strawberries.
Squalls are heading into the area so we quick march our way through the party, stopping occasionally to wolf down fried catfish po boys, cracklins, biscuits, and all manners of strawberry ephemera.
The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is enormous. A kindly local explains that it’s the 2nd largest festival in Louisiana right behind New Orleans Jazz Fest. The grounds go on and on, swallowing up city streets, small parks, lawns, avenues and roadways. If you wanted to do it right you’d have to allot an entire day.
We’re swept along with all the camaraderie from the friendly country people but then out of the blue a beauty comes strolling down a dirt path wearing a giant strawberry tiara. It’s Abby Earles, the 2015 Ponchatoula Strawberry Queen. We immediately beg for an impromptu photo shoot and the queen acquiesces to her subjects. Ms Earles informs us that not only is she the Strawberry Queen but she’s also Louisiana’s Queen Of Queens.
Earles recently competed against all the Queens of the great state of Louisiana and when the dust had settled she emerged with the title Queen Of Queens.
That means she beat the Andouille Queen, the Jambalaya Queen, The Gumbo Queen and a host of other queens of certain pulchritude.
We’ve said it before and it bears mentioning again. The most beautiful women in all of USA live right here in Louisiana.
At this point we realize the party has met its peak. We continue meandering along, buy some Mayhaw jam from a nice elderly lady, circuit our way through the freak shows (World’s Largest Display Of 2 Headed Turtles!)and slowly make our way back to the Econoline.
There is nothing we’d rather do than drive out of New Orleans to little country towns on the prairies and bayous of Louisiana.