Audio: Beignets finally receive the festival they deserve (and for a good cause)
Go to any doughnut shop and you’ll be faced with a choice between dozens of different varieties. Beignets, on the other hand, have remained relatively the same over the decades – just your basic fried dough and powdered sugar.
But that may be changing, and the first ever Beignet Fest on Saturday at Lafayatte Square will be a great place to sample some of the more daring takes on a New Orleans classic.
“We have people who are doing Oreo beignets, praline beignets and burger beignets, crabmeat beignets and boudin-stuffed beignets and all kinds of different variations on it,” said Sherwood Collins, who co-founded the event with wife Amy.
And nothing goes with beignets like coffee, so the inaugural Beignet Fest will deliver in that department as well.
“Our official coffee sponsor is French Market Coffee, so they’re going to have hot or iced coffee for sale,” said Collins, “and we’re probably also going to have some adult beverages with coffee in them.”
Urban South Brewery will have its coffee porter available as well.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true New Orleans festival without some great local music. The Beignet Fest’s lineup includes: Alexandra Scott, the Confetti Park Players Childrens’ Chorus, Los Po-Boy-Citos, John Papa Gros and his new band, with Big Sam’s Funky Nation closing out the show.
Having a son who is on the autism spectrum sparked the desire to raise awareness on the subject for the Collins, and having some sort of festival to do it just seemed natural – Sherwood and Amy (Boyle) met while collaborating on events for the YLC.
But what kind of festival was the question at hand. New Orleans has a weekend festival for nearly all of its local favorites, from po-boys to king cakes to Creole tomatoes -- even mirlitons have a festival (it’s in November in the Bywater).
Noting the success of the King Cake Festival, and with beignets being a family favorite as well as being light and something you can eat with your hands, “we just found that and stuck with it,” said Collins.
The Collins just filed the paperwork to start their Tres Doux Foundation. Its mission: to celebrate, embrace, and enhance the lives of children with developmental delays and disabilities by presenting them as whole beings and to support organizations that do the same.
“Even though there are some kids who have delays or maybe they can’t sit still or they might just jump up every once in awhile, and even though it’s not typical, they’re still whole human beings,” said Collins. “They’re still individuals who can contribute and can do many different things.”
Tres Doux (Very Sweet) also seeks to help the people in the community who are helping those on the autism spectrum and their families.
“A lot of providers, if somebody says, ‘Oh, we have something that caters to kids with autism, oh, we have eight spots.’ Well, they’ll have a waiting list of 30 other people,” said Collins. “So we’re just trying to not only bring that awareness but trying to build up programming and to help those who have programming in place to try and help kids with autism.”
Come on out Saturday, October 8, at Lafayette Square downtown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help Tres Doux reach its goals and to enjoy some great beignets, coffee and music at the first ever Beignet Fest.
Brian Friedman writes about New Orleans for NolaVie.