ACADIANA, La. (KLFY)– The Acadiana Eats Festival owes Acadiana nothing more after bringing the vibes, food and atmosphere needed to make the city of Scott the place to be on Saturday.

Crowds of people gathered for the second year of the Acadiana Eats Festival, organized by News 10’s Gerald Gruenig. The family-friendly festival highlighted local restaurants, businesses and artists with 20 food vendors and 30 pop-up vendors in attendance this year.

The festival offered a variety of delicacies that were exclusively found in Acadiana. Each food place had a specific dish they were selling to not only bring exposure to their business but to educate others on the different flavors that make Acadiana the cultural melting pot it is.

Gruenig’s father, Koz of Koz’s Restaurant in Harahan, reflected on how far this festival has come and how his involvement in it evolved from just supporting his son on the sidelines last year to selling his shrimp po-boys alongside other owners.

“It’s good to see how much love and respect he has from the masses. People just keep coming up to me and thanking me for having him,” he said while laughing.

From soul food to Cajun food to sweet treats, festival goers saw it all.

The DJ Jerk Shop, owned by Bobby Marshall, is a Lafayette-based restaurant that specializes in Jamaican and Caribbean food. The restaurant was serving festival patrons turkey necks, rice with peas and cabbage, and people could purchase the seasonings they were also selling.

Marshall said although this was his first Acadiana Eats Festival, the fun and the interactions with customers not only motivated him to want to attend next year, but it’s made him learn more about some of the foods people in Acadiana are looking for.

“Next year I will come prepared,” Marshall said. “A lot of people around here like oxtails and fried fish and seafood, so I got a few seafood dishes up my sleeve.”

Business owners from all over Acadiana not only got to showcase their signature dishes of the day but also got to connect and build a network with one another while learning about other food places that they might not have known was operating in the area.

Prejean’s was one of the restaurants that attended last year’s festival, and from what they saw this year, the festival had proved to have shown growth in organization and in attendee numbers. This year, they were serving smoked crawfish enchiladas with a Creole cream sauce.

Bryce Bearb with Prejean’s talked about how the festival boosts business visibility and how people get the chance to try places they’ve been wanting to try from parts of Acadiana they might’ve not been able to get to before.

“It’s great exposure for the businesses,” Bearb said. “They’re all in one place, so if there’s something that you haven’t tried that you kind of been wanting to try, you can get one of their best dishes.”

As soon as attendees walked in, they were welcomed with a plethora of food options and live music from Homegrown Reggae, Gerald Gruenig and Gentilly Zydeco and Pocket Chocolate. People were not afraid to show some moves and dance to the bands and artists who were playing musical genres including, but not limited to, zydeco, reggae, R&B and hip-hop.

People also got the opportunity to congregate comfortably in their lawn chairs as the music took over. Adults used the two bars available, and attendees of all ages took pictures at the Social Light Photo Booth provided by Social Entertainment.

Latarsha “Taz” Howard, an attendee, said Homegrown Reggae is what caught her ear. She brought her two daughters and godson to the festival to show them what unity looks like in the community and give them the cultural experience needed to continue the push towards compassion and understanding.

“I’m showing them the way to the community is by gathering together, sharing different cultural experiences with each other so we can learn to go further knowing how to love one another,” Howard said.

The festival truly embodied its convergence of mature and youthful vibes with the activities that kids could take part in such as the train ride, face paintings and a pumpkin decorating tent.

However, the youthfulness did not stop at those activities.

Olivia Hebert is a 13-year-old and the founder of Cotton Candies in Lafayette. Olivia, along with her mother, father and grandmother, was selling her hand-spun, organic cotton candy to those at the Acadiana Eats Festival. Olivia said her favorite part of the experience was bringing joy to children’s faces as she spun the cotton candy right in front of them

“We’ve never been to a festival this big, so it’s a little crazy, but it means a lot to be able to do this,” Olivia said.

The festival also posed as a golden ticket for local vendors to get their products out there to the public. From business owners selling glitter to jams and pepper jelly, the Acadiana Eats Festival allowed each vendor’s merchandise to come to the forefront and be seen.

With some owners coming to Scott for the first time, they got the opportunity to see for themselves how well economically their business would do in different parts of Acadiana.

Vera Davis with the Cookie Door, a family-owned cookiery based in Broussard, said the festival was the business’ first pop-up stop in Scott, and she was grateful to learn how well people responded to her business outside of the area it was used to.

“We’re kind of seeing how it is on this side because we’re perceived good where we’re at in Broussard, so it’s nice to know the different economies and where you’re at with different locations and how you’re perceived,” Davis said.

With not a raindrop in sight, the event lasted from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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