Festival offers fried chicken fans a cluckin’ good time


A crowd of people wait in line at New Orleans Fried Chicken Festival. There were over 30 vendors at this year’s festival. Photo credit: Michael Bauer

Lexi Phillips

This weekend, the fourth annual National Fried Chicken Festival brought masses of chicken lovers to Woldenberg Riverfront Park, located in the heart of New Orleans. Groovy tunes, sun shining weather, and festive games created the perfect scene to enjoy golden fried goodness.

Over 30 vendors formed this foodie paradise with unique variations of a classic southern staple. Sugary doughiness met with a savory crunch aroused the taste buds to anyone who had Sweet Legacy’s fried chicken and beignets. Restaurants like Aphrodisiac served up foreign flair with their escovitch fried chicken, and Frenchman Street Deli’s donut fried chicken sandwich was a child’s dream. However, the longest line was at Heard Dat Kitchen.

Returning to the festival for a third year after winning their first vendor’s spot through Capital One Bank’s “Getting Down to Business program,” Chef Jeffery Heard and his head server and daughter Tia’Nesha Heard-Dorest brought even more flavor this time around with the Bourbon Street Love.

Mac and cheese, fried chicken and crawfish cream sauce formed this best selling dish. Sociology freshman Daisi Rivera had the opportunity to try it.

“It was honestly heaven. When my parents visit for parent’s weekend, I’m definitely taking them to Heard Dat to try it,” she said.

Reactions like Rivera’s keep bringing the Heard family back to the festival.

“We just love food. We love people and we know that people love to eat here and we want them to make memories with us,” Heard-Dorest said.

Memories were surely made this year, especially for New Orleans restaurant, Southerns, who took home the gold. Their chicken sandwich was granted the highest award for “Best Use of FriedChicken in a Dish.”

Dellisia Keppard, a police officer who has worked the festival for all four years, predicted Southern’s win after trying the sandwich on the last day.

“Out of all the fried chicken I’ve had this weekend, the chicken sandwich was definitely the best,” she expressed. “I’ll be back next year.”

Southern’s Nashville hot chicken sandwich in a bag. This sandwich won the “Best Use of Fried Chicken in a Dish” award. Photo credit: Valerie Cronenbold