Bayou Boogaloo returns to Bayou St. John with some changes

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For the first time in three years, Bayou Boogaloo is back in full swing. While many people are excited to get back out on the bayou for music and fun this weekend, some feel the event has outgrown Bayou St. John.

Rhonda Ardoin, owner of Bayou PaddleSports, rents out kayaks to folks who want to enjoy Bayou St. John.

“I like the fact we give somebody the opportunity to experience it from the water even though they don’t have a boat, so but yeah we get pretty busy, which we look forward to,” she said.

And she’s excited for the return of the event and what it will mean for her business.

“We’ve been out here since 2011 and in that time we’ve seen Bayou Boogaloo grow, and so have we. And I’m happy to have it back and happy to see more people out on the water,” she says.

Some residents along the waterway are excited to paddle up and anchor down for the event’s big return.

“Oh yeah. We’re going to go to it,” said Lydia Fairbanks. “Sometimes we sit across the bayou from it and sometimes we go on in. But yeah we’re excited for it.”

She said she loves living on the bayou and having the Boogaloo in her front yard.

“I love that it’s on the water and it calls attention to the water,” she said.


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The Bayou Boogaloo music festival is an event of the nonprofit organization Friends of Bayou St. John. It began in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina to help raise money and revitalize the neighborhood and support musicians and artists in the community. The nonprofit also raises money to care for the bayou.

Other residents in Bayou St. John, like Tom O’Connor, dislike the Bayou Boogaloo event.

“Hate it,” he said. “It’s nothing but a big frat party on water.”

He says what started off as something nice for the community after Hurricane Katrina has turned into something different.

“It feels like Mardi Gras on water,” he said.

Through the years, Bayou Boogaloo has grown, and it’s no surprise to festival organizers.

Producer for the event, Jared Zeller said the festival has had big crowds through the years pre-pandemic, and he understands those crowds can be something of an inconvenience for residents nearby.

Zeller said this year there will be some changes to the festival which include adding more safety measures, like metal detectors for pedestrian and water traffic, and more roadblocks to limit traffic, among other ways to help make the event safer for all.

“Costs rose in the last 16 years since the first Boogaloo, making it a more expensive event to plan,” said Zeller.

But as people prepare for a weekend on the bayou, those who cherish the waterway hope others will too.

“Be a good neighbor,” said O’Connor. “There’s nothing wrong with making money and charging people and having a good time, but be a good neighbor.”

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Olivia Vidal

Olivia Vidal

A Mandeville native, Olivia Vidal covered news all around Louisiana before returning home to join the FOX 8 News team. She has previously worked at FOX 8's sister stations, KPLC in Lake Charles and KSLA in Shreveport.