Fest Fave: Get your Biergarten here

by Dominick Cross

There's always something new and innovative going on with Festival International de Louisiane. And through the Louisiana Experience, the La. Craft Biergarten is just one of those innovations.

[Editor's Note: This is the third in our new blog series called "Fest Fave" that will take a close look at all things Festival International and cool stuff in particular that catches our eye.]

There's always something new and innovative going on with Festival International de Louisiane. It's what keeps the Best World Music Festival fresh year after year - you know, finding ways to quench the inquisitive thirst of festival-goers.

Take beer, for instance. No, not my beer, the beers of the La. Craft Biergarten. It's part of the Louisiana Experience that Festival began last year.

"For fans of fine brews, we have six different breweries and 16 different beers," says Aipyo Obala, marketing coordinator at Festival. "And these are all Louisiana breweries and these are all craft beers."

And the breweries are: Abita  Brewing Co., Covington Brewhouse, Parish Brewing, Bayou Teche Brewing, NOLA Brewing and Tin Roof Brewing.

"And the really cool thing - in addition to it being a craft beer - if you're not a beer aficionado, you can try and sample all these different beers," Obala says.

Obala says the brew masters are scheduled to talk about their products.

"I found it very enlightening to hear them," she says. "They talk about not just the process, but different flavors. So you're getting an understanding of what it is that you're drinking. It's just an enhanced part of the craft Biergarten."

All beer and no food can make one, well, sort of tipsy. Not to worry, provisions will be in order and on site, too, in the form of a couple of food trucks, as well the Jefferson Street Pub, presenters of the Biergarten.

"Viva la Waffle and Bon Repas started the Lafayette Food Truck Revolution," says Obala. "It's kind of their marketing thing because there haven't been many food trucks in Lafayette, anyway. But it's huge all over the rest of the U.S." There's even a Food Truck Wars segment on the Food Network, she says. "Some of the best food you can have."

Obala says the food trucks catered the festival's pin premiere event and basically wow'd the crowd.

By the way, the Biergarten will be set up in the parking lot next to  Jefferson Street Pub, 500 Jefferson St., presenters of this new brew-aha.

"A Biergarten is literally an outdoor garden where you drink beer," says Obala, who couldn't help but laugh at the thought of it. Anyway, opening night for the Biergarten is Thursday.

"We're going to have some local musicians perform," says Obala. Sean Bruce, Taylor Verrett and Bridgett Gary are set to play. "That's going to be a really great performance."

Obala says the Biergarten is the latest chapter in the Louisiana Experience book. Last year, the focus was on Louisiana seafood and, of course, music.

"We did a lot of cooking demonstrations with local restaurants and they all served a variety of different things," she says. "So this year we're introducing craft beer, but we'll still have our cooking demonstrations."

Also known as the Cooking Demonstration Walkabout, food demos will take place Friday at the Accidental Chef, 406 Garfield, with area restaurants taking turns.

On the music end of the Louisiana Experience, Festival has partnered with the House of Blues, New Orleans.

"We're not even keeping Louisiana Experience in Lafayette," says Obala. "We're actually doing a joint performance with House of Blues New Orleans. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 are going to perform as part as our Louisiana Experience in New Orleans."

The show is scheduled for May 2.

"It was a great introductory partnership last year and they were really excited about it and we were, too," Obala says. "And to be able to continue that - and with Seun Kuti - it's a really great way just to continue that."

For the finer details of the Louisiana Experience, go here.