Sharing a Taste of American Pie

Forecasters in the north still are posting occasional frost warnings and it’s not yet time for Alaska to be awash in wildflowers, but the thawing’s nearly complete. Winter’s gone. Folks are out and about and, in the South, we’ve arrived at the very heart of festival season.

In Texas, Bluegrass and Bluebonnets already has taken place. In Louisiana, the Acadian Festival in St. Martinsville, the Bayou Teche Bear Festival and the Balfa Cajun/Creole Heritage Week are pleasant memories. Still to come are assorted strawberry festivals, New Orleans’ Creole Tomato Festival, the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles in Lafayette, Church Point’s Buggy Fest and one of the best combinations of food and music in the world, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival.

Events like last weekend’s Mullet Toss at the Flora-Bama Lounge, a well-known establishment on the Alabama-Florida state line, play to a slightly different crowd. While there’s just as much music and food, there’s often a good bit more liquor and a good bit less clothing.  Crowds are friendly at the Flora-Bama, but they’re not necessarily family-friendly, if you get my drift.

On the other hand, the Flora-Bama Mullet Toss shares some qualities common to other festivals. All tend to be historically-rooted and marked by a high level of community involvement. They support community causes, raise money for local organizations and provide inexpensive fun. Like State Fairs and the Fourth of July, they’re as American as apple pie.

One of the earliest spring gatherings is the Rabbit Festival in Iowa (pronounced Io-WAY), Louisiana. In 1986, the town made a decision to promote the only rabbit processing plant in the area; the first festival was held in 1987. There was a small rabbit show, a parade, craft sellers and a few bands playing from the back of a flatbed trailer. The highlight, of course, was the crowning of Miss Bunny, whose primary responsibility was to travel around Louisiana promoting the festival.

In time, the processing plant went out of business but the festival continued to grow. The rabbit cookoff gained a certain fame, and more well-known musicians were booked. The growth and changes landed the festival on various travel listings, and Iowa’s pride in its event increased accordingly.

When a friend read about the festival, she was tempted by the thought of the rabbit cook-off and suggested we make the trip.  She’d been raised with rabbit on the table from time to time, enjoyed it, and insisted the opportunity to eat rabbit stewed, roasted, sauced, fried, boudin-ed and gumbo-ed wasn’t to be missed.

I’d never eaten rabbit, but some equally tasty music was being served up. Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys would be there, along with Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie. If the price of admission to hear those musicians was going to include hanging out with an assortment of rabbits, so be it. Another friend, a native Louisianan who still lapses into Cajun French from time to time, declared we should “Laissez les grand lapins rouler!”  His version of the familiar “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” translates roughly, “Let the big bunnies roll!” And so we did.

On Saturday morning, we didn’t mind missing the rabbit show put on by the Acadiana Area Rabbit Breeders’ Association – there was too much good food to sample and too many interesting people to meet. The folks who set up this chuck wagon took first place in the decorating category, but their roasted rabbit-on-a-spit was equally impressive.

A group of LSU grads may have been doing rabbit fricassee, a sauce piquant or even a stew, but at their tent it was conversation that took the prize. All had been deeply affected by last year’s flooding on the Mississippi. Some were involved with post-flood projects in the Atchafalaya Basin. Reading about the flood and following its path from a distance is one thing. Listening to people rooted in the area and dedicated to its preservation reflect on their own experience is something else entirely.

Last year’s winner in the appetizer category was back for a repeat performance.  The boudin balls were delicious, but competition was fierce. In the end, I think the folks in the chuck wagon ran over them, winning with a little concoction of rabbit, onion, jalapeno and cheese served on roasted potato slices.

By the time the judging was complete, we’d eaten our fill and were ready to find a shady spot in the pavilion. Steve Riley and his Mamou Playboys are a big draw, and it was fun to speculate about the various groups who’d come to see them. Grammy-nominated for their new CD, Grand Isle, the group’s as friendly and approachable as any in the business, and they clearly enjoy their rapport with their audience.

Cajun or Zydeco, the music’s infectious and made for dancing. Grandmothers and grandfathers are just as likely to be on the floor as the young ones, and toddlers too young to follow along “dance” in their parents’ arms. Young girls partner with one another, couples with years of partnership behind them astonish the watching crowd, and even those with no partner at all are free to let the music move them, in whatever way seems best.

In the end, the Rabbit Festival turned out to be nothing more – and nothing less – than an opportunity for nice people to enjoy the ordinary pleasures of life. Gathered under the spreading oaks, a group of women argued over the best recipe for rabbit sauce piquant. Moving in time with Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, an irrepressible couple swirled past awkward, tentative beginners, bubbling over with laughter and good-natured advice. “Stop counting!” they shouted over the music. “Just dance!”

And everywhere, people smiled at rabbits – live rabbits, cartoon rabbits, cooked rabbits and at least one costumed rabbit who decided to doff his hot, fuzzy-eared head and quaff a beer or two.  In the parking lot behind the pavilion, a gaggle of Queens unpinned their tiaras and sashes and compared their plans for the evening.

As the afternoon trees dappled the sunlight , the Mamou Playboys thanked the crowd, shook a few hands and began thinking about their next gig. Families reunited for the long trek back to their cars, cooking pots were cleaned, sound crews started prepping for the evening’s concert and souvenir-sellers tipped back their chairs, content to call it a day.

Near the entrance, one last buyer cuddled her purchase – a brown and white rabbit with silky brown ears. When I stopped to admire the wriggling bit of fluff wrapped tight in her arms, she looked up with a smile brighter than bunny eyes. “Is that yours?” I asked. “Uh-huh,” she said. “I just got him.” “Does he have a name yet?” “I dunno. Maybe. I might call him Sam.”

She looked me over, appraising me as only a child can. “You wanna hold him?”  Of course I did. On the other hand, I wasn’t willing to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to run down an escaped rabbit. “Why don’t you hold him, and I’ll just pet him?” “OK,” she said.

The rabbit seemed happy to have his ears rubbed, and the circle of kids surrounding us seemed happy to watch. After a minute, I told her I had to leave because my own friends were waiting.  “OK,” she said, nuzzling the rabbit. As I turned to go, she asked my opinion. “What would you name him?” “I think Sam’s a pretty good name,” I said, “but he’ll let you know if it’s right.”

Remembering the Rabbit Festival today – the food, the friendliness, the American-as-apple-pie atmosphere – there’s a lot that feels right. And the little girl’s choice of “Sam” for her rabbit’s name seems especially apt. If she keeps the name, she may someday realize her silky, squirmy souvenir bears the same name as our nation’s “Uncle”  Sam – a choice every bit as tasty as a bite of American pie.

Comments are welcome. To leave a comment or respond, just click below. And please – no Reblogging. Thanks!
Click here to see Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys on NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert

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60 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It is a very tasty choice! And sounds like a very memorable day :)

    • belle,

      It was a wonderful day, with a little bit of a whole lot of things I enjoy. I just was thinking about your Grand Canyon entry – isn’t it wonderful we can enjoy both kinds of experience, the ordinary and the extraordinary?

      Linda

  2. Just seeing that child with “Sam” would have made my day!

    • montucky,

      There aren’t many children in my world – every time I get to interact with them is a pleasure, and there’s nothing like a little girl or boy with a new pet!

      Linda

  3. Oh, to have a part in naming a child’s bunny! Where neighbors are friends and friends are neighbors for a wonderful day.
    Back in the 90’s our girls performed in “Encore Youth Performers” and we made a whole host of festivals: the Gator Fest, the Strawberry Festival. Good times back then.

    • Georgette,

      I’d not heard of Encore Youth Performers, but I found a page that mentions Alison Luff’s involvement . It sounds like a wonderful program. Do they nurture the shy ones, too? My first thought was, “I wish I could have done that”. Then, I thought, “At that age, I would have had to be dragged, kicking and screaming. ” I was the very definition of “painful shyness”.

      Neighborliness is a good word. At these festivals, there’s no question you can be neighbor-for-a-day if you like. It’s an experience too many people have forgotten.

      Linda

  4. I’ll have to do a post some day about the “Encore” years. No, the group no longer exists. Both our girls participated for over 10 years! The younger one was 2 when daughter #1 started at age 7. There was an audition and we were thrilled when she started. When #2 turned 5 they made an exception and brought her in. She had memorized all the songs and moves just watching performance after performance. How fun you found the article on Alison! There were so many who benefited from this group. They stay in touch through their fb page.

    • Georgette,

      I suspected you might know Alison. There are so many benefits from groups like that. I’d love to read a bit about your experience. And how nice that your girls got to participate together – they surely enjoyed that, too.

      Linda

  5. Linda,
    Really enjoyed this story; makes me wish I was there to experience it first handed. It is wonderful you get to travel and experience so much that you can put it in a story for the rest of us.
    I like the name Sam also!!
    Thanks for a little R & R!
    Patti

    • Patti,

      It’s funny – eating “local” and “seasonal” has become more important to me when it comes to my food. Now, lo and behold – it seems the same guidelines make sense for entertainment, too!

      There are some places in the world I’d love to go to – visiting Sandi would be at the top of the list – but it isn’t going to happen.
      The good news is, we don’t have to hop on a plane and cross oceans to have a good time. You’ve surely learned the trick of showing the world to your grandkids without even leaving town. It can be done!

      It didn’t even occur to me until right now – I wonder if “Sam” came from “Green Eggs and Ham”? Maybe that rabbit is Sam-I-Am!

      Linda

  6. This makes me eager for festival season to start in the north. Let the people watching begin! Great, lively writing, Linda. Felt like I was there. :)

    • Emily,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it.The first festivals I remember from childhood were Tulip Time in Pella, Iowa, and a huge pow-wow somewhere in Minnesota. We were much farther north than Leech Lake. I can’t remember exactly where, but I do remember the beaded moccasins I brought home.

      People-watching is one of the best activities in the world, especially if you can combine it with porch-sitting!

      Linda

  7. Reading through this made me think of all the festivals and similar that I’ve waved off without visiting or even considering visiting. What have I missed, all those times? Perhaps I’ll look a little more closely next time, thanks to this post!

    • Deb,

      There’s a lot of fun out there waiting for you – no question about it. My own peculiarity is that I’d rather drive a few hours to a smaller town and take in something like the rabbit festival than drive an hour into Houston for the big art festivals and concerts. I’ve lost my taste for traffic and huge crowds. The smaller events often have entertainment that equals or surpasses what the big city has to offer.

      They have a good deal more, of course – much of which would appeal to Lil’D. It’s been a long time since I’ve been around so many friendly, chattering children, or so many older brothers and sisters taking care of the younger ones. It was fun to see.

      Linda

  8. In the part of the world where I grew up, one place known for carnival-style entertainment was Coney Island. It just so happens that coney is a somewhat old-fashioned English word for rabbit. Coney is related to the Spanish word for rabbit, conejo, which also has served as the Mexican name for the flower that English speakers call a bluebonnet, presumably because the whitish top of the flower reminded people of a rabbit’s tail.

    • Steve,

      I feel like I just fell down an etymological rabbit-hole! I never in a million years would have expected Coney Island and bluebonnets to be connected through “conejo”. The first thing I did was double-check my suspicion, and yes, indeed: Coney Island was named for the rabbits who lived there long ago.

      It’s doubly interesting to have Coney Island pop up now, as I’m doing a bit of research for a later post on Woody Guthrie. I’m sure you know he lived on Mermaid Avenue – moved there in 1943 – and wrote a song about it that begins, “Mermaid Avenue, that’s the street, Where the fast and slow folks meet, Where the cold ones meet the hot ones, Just a block from Coney’s beach…”

      If you don’t know “Way Over Yonder in The Minor Key”, it’s worth a listen. I think Woody would have liked it, too.

      Now I need to go look at some bluebonnets!

      Linda

      • That’s a great phrase, one that Lewis Carroll would be proud of: an etymological rabbit hole. Knowing about your fondness for bluebonnets, I was glad to be able to make the connection through conejo. Whether your imagination can let you see a bluebonnet as a bunny, you’ll have to tell us.

        • Now that I have a new word in a different language, all I can see are fields of floral “cottontails”. It’s a good reminder of the power of a name.

          All of this raised another question: when, and how, did bluebonnets get their name? I found the answer to that here, along with some delightful details about the legislative process that led to its being declared the state flower (Cactus Jack Garner was in favor of prickly pear) and some lovely photos of the pink and maroon (Aggie) “bluebonnet”. What I’d like to see is the Big Bend bluebonnet – which grows to three feet tall!

  9. I had never seen as many festivals as when I lived in Ohio. I’m not kidding, Linda. I used to jokingly wonder when the Paper Clip Festival would be held, because that was about the only thing that didn’t seem to have its own three-day weekend. If you have a chance, check out this link.

    None of them seem to be as gentle and kind as the Rabbit Festival though. Except for the Bunny Balls, which sounds a little cruel.

    What an adventure!

    • Moonbeam,

      When I went to the Ohio site, it didn’t take long to find the common denominator among all these festivals – I noticed their slogan is “One Funnel Cake at a Time”! There were funnel cakes at the Rabbit Festival, too, but this time, I didn’t indulge. Too many good rabbit dishes.

      Gentle and kind as the Rabbit Fest may have been, these things are run by people. At one point, a group seemed to be skewing the results of the “People’s Choice” award by asking people to put their tickets – the means of voting – into a basket BEFORE they got their sample. Stuffing the ballot box, if you will. I’m not sure how they settled it, but I heard the issue got resolved. Everyone apparently agreed to agree it was a misunderstanding, and life went on.

      It was an adventure, and lots of fun. I had to hold the post for a bit, though, or everyone would have confused the rabbit with the Easter Bunny!

      Linda

  10. Linda,

    Your words have a gift of looking like they are saying something simple when they are giving us the whole rabbit-filled enchilada. When you describe the festival as being nothing more and nothing less than experiencing life’s ordinary pleasures, it sounds like a great recipe for living!

    Claudia

    • Claudia,

      Now that I think of it, there were enchiladas at the festival, too! And empanadas, as a matter of fact.

      We live in a culture devoted to the so-called extraordinary, but much of what’s called “extraordinary” is available only to a very few people. The great irony is that, if we’re truly attentive to the simple things in life that lie close at hand – sunsets, babies, music, a good meal with friends – we’ll discover extraordinary satisfactions in the midst of ordinary life.

      It is a good recipe – and it isn’t even secret!

      Linda

  11. Linda,
    What a fun post! Though I am certain I would not have enjoyed The Rabbit Festival first hand. I am allergic to rabbits! We raised them when I was young, and I had a couple that were lovely pets too, but I sure don’t remember the horrid asthma from them as a child… Only that I loved their softness and their little squeeks and mewings. They do make sounds, though most don’t know it.

    Strangely, the asthma came on like gangbusters when I found, and rescued, an abandoned bunny on our playground. It was my first year of teaching. After a trip the the ER for a breathing treatment, the little hopper got to be an outside bunny, but I digress…

    We have a similar festival in Athens Alabama called “The Chicken and Egg Festival.” Bob and I went there our first summer here. It was hot and dusty, but thoroughly enjoyable. The music was the best and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time!

    I need to make a list and try out some of the special and fun places you have written about here… but I think that maybe The Rabbit Festival will be one I’ll have to skip. ;)
    ~ Lynda

    • Lynda,

      I have to ask – when you go to the Chicken and Egg festival, which exhibit do you visit first? ;)

      One of the best (most complete) listings for blues festivals is this Blues Festival Guide. I first found it through Kit at Words, Music, Baseball, a great place to keep up with everything from new music to gaming. It looks like you’ve got plenty to do, though. I just looked through a list of Alabama festivals and there’s a wealth of events. I was surprised by the number of dulcimer festivals – those would be fun.

      Too bad about the rabbit allergy. I had no idea so many keep them for pets – or that so many varieties exist. But of course, that’s part of the joy of a festival – being introduced to new delights!

      Linda

      • Linda,

        I believe the first exhibit was a hall with local crafts for sale, but the next stop was a bandstand with live, local entertainment. Guitars, banjos, singers, great stuff. They called it the “Chicken and Egg Festival” but it was more about music and old time entertainment. Favorite event? The tractor exhibit and the kiddie tractor pull!!! The little kids were so cute in those old tractor pedal cars and it was a little girl that won it too! (They kept adding things to the back of the tractor for the kids to pull/drag along, until they couldn’t move.)

        My sister-in-law found a bunny in her back yard last year and took it in. It must be the most pampered “house rabbit” I have ever seen. She has now become involved with the local bunny rescue league and adopted a “Lions Head” bunny to be Cinnabuns BFF. I’m glad there is 2700 miles between us, because it could get interesting if she wanted us to come visiting…
        ~ Lynda
        PS: Looking into the guides above. Who knows, maybe one day we will run into each other at one! :)

        • They used to have tractor pulls in the Astrodome, although those morphed into spectacle, with huge machines that bear no resemblance to real tractors, other than engines and wheels.
          I do enjoy events that focus on old-time farm machinery, and it must have been a complete delight to watch those kids!

          Cinnabun! Love the name. I think some of these rabbits are more social than my cat. As for crossing paths, who knows? Fairhope’s on my travel list – once I get that far, who knows where I could end up?

          Linda

  12. There’s nothing for sheer enjoyment and friendliness than an old-fashioned carnival or festival get-together. Everyone is determined to have fun, there’s the music and the laughter and the food. Nobody needs to wear their best clothes and can therefore forget about being careful not to mess them up.

    Sadly, our own Green Man Festival at the weekend had to be cancelled, the fields are water-logged. I don’t think rabbit is ever served. Sounds like your rabbit festival was just an excuse for a jolly occasion, newly invented. But nonetheless a good reason to have a good time.

    • friko,

      We’re such funny people, here. Give us something that’s twenty-five years old, and we think it’s – well, old. I’ve never heard of the “Green Man”, and discovered he’s truly old, with wide influence. Even in this country there are Green Man festivals. I’m surprised I’ve never heard of one, although as soon as I saw some of the images, I recognized them immediately.

      When I was growing up in the midwest, the only Green Man we knew about was the Jolly Green Giant of canned corn and beans fame!

      It just crossed my mind that wardrobe may be the primary link between festivals and blogging – not having to dress up is a great thing, in any venue!

      Linda

  13. “the Rabbit Festival turned out to be nothing more – and nothing less – than an opportunity for nice people to enjoy the ordinary pleasures of life.” There’s nothing better than that, now, is there?

    • Susan,

      No, there isn’t anything better – especially if one of the nice people is John Metcalf, and the “ordinary pleasures” include the performance of pieces by living composers. ;)

      Somehow I’d missed that Metcalf is the artistic director at Glamorgan, a fact which surely will increase your pleasure. I’m especially looking forward to your photos of the venues. Have fun at your festival!

      Linda

  14. Now this looks like a great event. (Gotta love that washboard playing bunny on the sign – my dad used to play a washboard).
    All the bunnies reminded me that one of the best parts of the Houston rodeo are all the different types of bunnies brought in for competition – so many! so soft!
    Any excuse to party is fine!

    • Phil,

      I was a spoon player, myself. I wasn’t very good, but I was enthusiastic. Homemade’s got a lot going for it, whether it’s pie, toys or music.

      The rodeo’s wonderful for bunny appreciation – likewise cows and pigs. I always enjoyed the county fair when I was in high school. We’d spend hours in the barns with hair dryers and combs, spiffing up those cows. I swear they always looked proud when we were done, ready to go out and have their own good time!

      Linda

  15. Sounds like a lovely event! As a vegetarian former owner of a pet rabbit I’d probably find it difficult to see all the rabbits being cooked! Having said that I remember from my carnivorous days that rabbit is very tasty!

    Juliet
    Crafty Green Poet

    • Juliet,

      I was surprised at how tasty the dishes were. I was confused in the beginning about the source of the rabbit, too – I couldn’t figure out why they were having their festival in the spring, when rabbit hunting season is in the fall. Then, a very patient friend pointed out that we don’t need to wait for chicken-hunting season to have a chicken on the table. Point taken. ;)

      It was a lovely event – with the added fun of so many people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day weekend. There was a lot of green!

      Linda

      • There you go. Another Green Man. Maybe not.

        Whenever I come over here I end up going down rabbit trails for a good long time. I enjoy it, but it works havoc on my schedule.

        The festival looks like exactly the sort of thing I enjoy. However, I haven’t been able to eat rabbit since the Weasel Killed Bunny Lou, a deeply traumatic incident in my childhood. Of course, I have never been truly hungry either. Makes a great difference.

        • Gerry,

          I have a blog friend whose bunny was so dear to him – I won’t even send him the link to this, despite his affection for the creatures. Or because of it. He was as grieved by his rabbit’s death as you surely were by yours.

          True, what you say about hunger being a great motivator. When I lived in Liberia, it was amazing how few monkeys and such remained in the bush. I was told most had landed in the stew pot. I did have an unexpected opportunity to try fruit bat. It wasn’t bad. Some people thought it tasted like rabbit.

          I wish I could find an online version of the Pine Leaf Boys’ “Jig Cajun”. It sounds for all the world like someone dropped an Irish fiddler into the swamps for a time. I’ve got an mp3 but can’t figure out how to get it to “take” here. Another project. ;)

          Linda

  16. Mike & I haven’t been to a festival in too long – it’s hard to enjoy when you can’t walk very well. But with my new hip perhaps we’ll be more adventurous this year (of course we have to get over our dislike of crowds first – ha!).

    • Bug,

      You’re right. That’s why my rule for festivals and such is “stop often and set frequent”! My hips and knees are good, but my back can get pretty tired. Luckily, the whole point of the day is there’s no schedule, and there’s always all that good music to listen to!

      I’m with you on the crowds, too. That’s why I like the smaller venues. Bluegrass concerts at community centers, musical groups playing restaurants and dancehalls, smaller festivals – all much better than the huge productions. The last big event I went to was Galveston Mardi Gras – never again!

      Linda

      • We went to the Cincinnati Labor Day fireworks event one year not long after we’d moved up here – I think that was the last giant crowd event we participated in – it was too much!

        • I’ve never gone to Houston’s gigantic fireworks display. If I’m lucky, I never will!

  17. I just wonder how they could sell all the rabbit dishes with so many cute rabbits, real and mascots, around in the same place. Also, I’m really interested in the photo of that little boy in front of the stage enjoying the music… how did you take out the colours of everything except him? That sure is one unique photo.

    • Arti,

      What’s really nice is that, after you’ve purchased your general admission to the festival, you can taste the various dishes for free. There’s a system for voting for what you like best, and the dishes with the most votes are the “peoples’ choice”.

      Still, free samples or purchased, it does put some people off to think about their dinner hopping around and being cute. Maybe those folks just don’t go to the festival – everyone seemed pretty enthusiastic about their plates!

      I’m glad you like the photo – I do enjoy messing around with them. I used the new program called PicMonkey, the replacement for Picnik. It’s free, and very easy. I uploaded the original from my computer, and then cropped and resized it.

      Then, I went into the “effects” section and transformed it to black and white, I sharpened it a little, and then restored the color to the boy. Then, I added a little shadow around the edge and a thin frame – voila! That’s all there is to it! There are all kinds of effects possible – believe me, I’ve wasted invested many hours learning what can be done!

      Linda

  18. I was really happy to come across your experience on this festival.

    I heard about the rabbit festival only because I planned a solo road trip through various states that I hadn’t been to before and one of the states was Iowa. Since I run a festival site (I see you already found http://ohiofestivals.net), it probably won’t surprise you that I Googled “Iowa festival” to better plan my trip and I came across the rabbit festival.

    At first, I was really excited, but then disappointed only that it wasn’t actually taking place in the state of Iowa where I would be.

    But it definitely looks like fun and worth a revisit to Louisiana so that I can check out this festival first-hand. Thanks again!

    Kristian

    • Kristian,

      You’ll love Iowa – that’s my home state. I just was back last fall, and remembered again what a wonderful place it is. The Tulip Festival in Pella is a favorite of many people, and with good reason. Even when the festival’s not going on, the town’s well worth visiting for the marvelous museums, exhibit halls and – bakeries!

      Many of the settlers in Iowa, Louisiana, did come from Iowa, the state. Some of my family were among those who traveled south, and my first visits to Louisiana actually were to relatives.

      In any event, I’m glad you stopped by and wish you the best on your travels. What a fun job you must have! I’m sure it has its moments, but it sounds like a great opportunity to get to see the country.

      Linda

  19. This carnival seems to be a real taste of the south where friendliness knows no bounds. I really felt as if I were there. Very, very nice homey presentation here. We get a good idea of what it is like where you hail from.

    • Wild_Bill,

      I wish I could have just scooped you all up and brought you along. It really was such fun – not hyped-up, over-charged fun, but good-natured and relaxed enjoyment. Well, except for the kids on the over-sized swing sets. They were pretty hyped up. ;)

      There seems to be a lot of unfriendliness going around these days. A little escape to places like the Rabbit Festival can be restorative in many, many ways.

      Linda

  20. I love how you’ve incorporated the history behind this particular festival. I’ve not spent much time in the south (but will be visiting a friend in Lousiana in a few weeks) so it’s interesting to hear about events like these and how rabbit as pet and food is celebrated. And you were very wise not to risk having Sam escape!

    • nikkipolani,

      Oh, my goodness. I can’t even bring myself to think about losing a little girl’s pet. There’s no way I was going to risk that, especially since I’m not experienced in the ways of rabbit!

      The history always is interesting to me. Sometimes the connection’s quite direct, as it was here with the rabbit processing plant and its desire to promote its product. Other times, as at the Acadian Festival in St. Martinville, it’s the history of an entire people that gives rise to the celebrations.

      Lucky you, to be looking forward to time with a friend and a visit to Louisiana. I know you’ll have a good time!

      Linda

  21. So, you made your way to I O W A and had a good time but decided not to stay!!!! Thanks for sharing another of your Looziana adventures, Linda! I felt like I was right there with you, but I’m not sure I could eat rabbit cooked 24 ways, lol!

    • Bayou Woman,

      Let’s put it this way. The rabbit was good – really good, in some instances – but I’m never going to trade in my crab, crawfish and shrimp for it.

      At least now I know my aunt hasn’t been lying all these years when she says, “Oh, we used to eat rabbit all the time. It was good!” Theirs was wild rather than farm-raised, but it’s one of those childhood foods she remembers with pleasure.

      You know what’s next on my list, don’t you? Sac-au-lait, of course!

      Linda

      • So does that mean you want to catch, clean, and eat? You’ve not had the white perch experience? Or is it crappie? Or is it all the same, lol! Where are you going for this sac au lait experience, hm?????

        • PS I took my old lady friends (72 and 88) out last week and we caught 24 keeper freshwater fishies of the bream family. Then we fried up a dozen or so that evening, and honey, they were delicious!

        • Oh, gosh. I don’t know. Where, oh where, could I ever find a fishing guide who could take me to a local Louisiana hotspot, show me the ropes and talk writing, all at the same time? ;)

          One of these days you’ll get the call, though I’m late for this year, I think. I did happen across one article about guys wading the Atchafalya basin for perch and thought to myself, “Uh – no, don’t think so!”

          • Uh, I’m with you on the “Uh–no, don’t think so!” Wade fishing with the gators is not on my bucket list! It is a bit late but the month of May should be good for a bit longer.

  22. It sounds like you had a lot of fun during the festival..:-) There’s really nothing like having good food and music with friends.

    “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” ~ A Swedish Proverb

    ~ Matt

    • Matt,

      I’m glad to have shared the festival with you through the blog. And your quoting of the proverb is wonderful. I had Swedish grandparents, and heard my grandma say that from time to time. Usually, I’d get only half of the proverb, though, depending on circumstances. But no matter which half she was using, the first word always was, “Remember….”

      Linda

  23. Who would have known that a city called Iowa is pronounced as Io-WAY in Louisiana and has a Bunny Festival each spring. Such a fun post. We never know what we’re going to learn when we stop by here.

    Many thanks to Steve for explaining how Coney Island got it’s name. An old-fashioned English word for rabbit? What a great quiz question.

    • dearrosie,

      I had to be instructed in the proper way to say the word – IoWay. The funny thing is, there’s an old song about our state I learned as a kid. I found it as part of a medley on youtube – of course! It’s just the first minute or so.

      I loved learning about Coney Island, too. The only thing is, the first thing I see now when I look at bluebonnets is – rabbit tails! It’s yet another proof that language not only expresses what we see in the world, it shapes our vision, too!

      Linda

  24. What a fabulous bowl of rabbit stew here, Linda, as tasty as it ever comes. I especially loved the last bite at the end when discovering his name was, appropriately and simply, Sam!

    • Ginnie,

      Isn’t that great? A simple name to go with all of the simple pleasures surrounding the festival.

      Simple isn’t plain, though – some of those rabbits are flat fancy. I’d love to go next year – either to the festival or to the Houston livestock show and rodeo – and see the exhibit of the various breeds. They say some are unbelievably beautiful.

      Linda


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