May 25, 2003
|I've thought about going to this Memorial Day weekend Festival a few times in recent years. When the music lineup came out, I decided this year would be the one to make the three hour drive over to Shreveport. But Mother Nature almost changed those plans. First, on Saturday night, she unleashed four hours of thunderstorms over my home, which left me less than well rested for the drive. And the Sunday morning radar made it look like there was a good chance the Fest would be a wet one. So I waffled. But Rosie Ledet puts on a fun show, and zydeco acts never come to Dallas any more (since no one shows up to see them). In the end, I decided that if the rain was too bad, I could visit Shreveport's other attraction instead (the casinos), and that if I got too tired, I'd get a motel room for the night; and with that, I was on my way. Besides, this was number five of what would be six consecutive weekends of Festing (Denton Arts & Jazz, New Orleans Jazzfest, Richardson Wildflower, Taste Addison, Shreveport Mudbug, NJ Crawfishfest), and I couldn't ruin my streak.|
|It's Road Trip Time!|
|There may be an officially designated or
recommended parking area, but if so, there's no indication of where, either on the
website or on signs near the Fest. So I paid $5 to park in a private lot a block
from the Fest. Fest admission was $3. Bud, Miller, and Coors were all
available for $3; Pepsi and Coke products were $2. So I guess it is possible,
after all, to hold a festival without selling exclusive brand rights to a beverage vendor.
Oddly, although food sales were cash, beverage sales required the dreaded tickets.
Although non-refundable, the tickets were an even $1 each and you could buy exact
quantities. I wasn't drinking beer due to the long drive home, so this all meant a
quick detour to the ticket booth to buy 2 tickets each time I got thirsty.
Walking in, I'm glad to see that the two main stages are actually in tents, so even if the rain decided to follow me from Dallas, the show could go on. The tents could probably each hold close to a thousand, and the crowds don't seem that big today. Inside the tents, there's about 20 yards of dancing room up front, and the rest is filled with chairs tables and chairs. There's a smaller third stage, outdoors, the Bayou Stage. It's billed as a showcase for Louisiana based artists singing the blues, but the only band I saw there was covering Credence, Steely Dan, and Skynyrd instead.
The Fest itself was spread over an area called the Shreveport Festival Plaza. Besides the three stages, there were long rows of food vendors, a few crafts vendors, and a couple of attractions where you could get flipped upside down, flung into the air, or hit in the face with a water balloon. I'd wondered about bringing a chair, since, again, the fest website gave no clue. I did see a few folks with lawn chairs, but it's not really needed, as there's plenty of chairs available inside and adjacent to the tents. And the Plaza is all concrete, so don't even think about bringing a blanket to sit on. One big plus of the Plaza location is the availability of real bathrooms, with real flush toilets and running water: no port-o-johns at this festival.
The food rated about a B+ for selection, but maybe a C for execution. There were several crawfish vendors, all priced the same, so I picked one at random. For a festival celebrating the mudbug, they were disappointing, especially considering 2003 was a very good crawfish year. Mostly small, some off-color, maybe undercooked or overcooked. The Nacogdoches Meat Pie was better, not as good as the ones at Jazzfest, but you just don't get those at all at festivals in Texas. Jambalaya was tasty but mushy. Also seen but not tried, various kinds of shrimp, alligator, and catfish, plus the usual Fest crap that we get here in Texas: funnel cakes, corn dogs, blooming onions, roasted corn, and turkey legs.
Oh yeah, the music. Rosie was good. Rosie's always good. Her rubboard player kept exhorting the crowd to dance, which was fine though largely unsuccessful. Of the 200 or so in the crowd, maybe 10-15% got up and danced, mostly for one song before sitting back down. He also reminded the crowd during every song break that they had CD's for sale. Nine times at least, during the first hour-long set. That got a little tiresome. There was a 20 minute break (to sell CD's, I guess), and a 40 minute second set.
The Radiators were scheduled for two 75 minute sets with a half hour break. They started 15 minutes late, annoying mostly because I knew I had a long drive home waiting for me. When they started into the first song, Walk on Gilded Splinters, I quickly forgot my agitation. A great song, and you just don't hear Dallas bands covering that one very often. I saw the Radiators do a short set at Tipitina's a few weeks ago, and this show wasn't up to that standard. It was still good. I plan to see them again next weekend up in Jersey, so one set was enough - better to be driving home until 12:30 instead of 2 am.
|The Swamp Stage|
|Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys|
|Dancing to Rosie.|
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Photos copyright © 2003 by Swag