Fried Chicken Festival announces return in October, moves to new location

Organizers for the National Fried Chicken Festival announced its return in 2021 and a new location for the event. The festival will take place on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 at a new home along the New Orleans Lakefront.

Willie’s Chicken Shack, Photo courtesy: National Fried Chicken Fest

Now in its fifth year, the Fried Chicken Fest has previously been held at Woldenberg Riverfront Park since 2017. Organizers say the new location will provide festival-goers with double the size of Woldenberg Riverfront Park’s footprint.

The festival’s new location will span from Franklin Avenue to the Seabrook Bridge, with more than a million square feet of waterfront views, to ensure attendees are safe and able to socially distance themselves while enjoying the festivities, organizers said in a release.

In addition to a new venue, festival-goers can expect “more restaurants, more attractions and an enhanced guest experience,” according to Cleveland Spears III, executive producer of the Fried Chicken Festival and President/CEO of the Spears Group.

“The New Orleans community has eagerly awaited the return of festivals, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to celebrate together once again at a new and exciting location to mark the fifth anniversary of the National Fried Chicken Festival,” Spears said. “We’re looking forward to safely gathering and providing a platform to support small, independently owned restaurants, sponsors and performers after such a challenging year.”

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Photo courtesy: National Fried Chicken Festival

This year’s festival will feature more than 33 chefs and restaurants from across the U.S., a diverse line-up of entertainment and musical performances across two stages, new sponsor activations and several new upgraded guest experiences.

Festival attendees can expect the return of the Best Fried Chicken Contest and Best Use of Chicken in a Dish Contest. Similar to previous years, the festival will once again honor a New Orleans culinary icon.

Organizers also pointed out the National Fried Chicken Festival will be the first event on the Lakefront since Back to the Beach in 2005, not long before Hurricane Katrina made landfall 16 years ago.

“We’ve waited years for an event to return to the Lakefront, and we could not think of a better fit than the National Fried Chicken Festival,” said Louis J. Capo, executive director of Lakefront Management Authority. “The Lakefront is a beautiful location to provide an unforgettable experience while also ensuring everyone can socially distance while enjoying great food, music and so much more. We’re honored to provide a space where citizens and visitors can come together to support local restaurants and enjoy everything they love about New Orleans.”

Photo courtesy: National Fried Chicken Fest via Facebook

In 2019, the free outdoor festival broke its attendance record and brought more than 183,000 guests to Woldenberg Riverfront Park, organizers said.

So far, October is shaping up to be a jam-packed month in New Orleans with several major festivals planning a return.

French Quarter Fest is planned for Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. Jazz Fest announced this year’s event is scheduled for Oct. 8 to Oct. 17. Organizers for Buku Fest said they’re planning an “alternative” scaled-down version of its eclectic event October 22 through 23, followed by Voodoo Fest during its normal Halloween weekend slot.

Since its founding in 2016, the Fried Chicken Festival has been bringing food, music, family and festivities together in celebration of the classic southern dish.

The Fried Chicken Festival will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 23 and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 24.

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See also: Music to our ears: Here’s a list of major concerts heading to New Orleans in 2021

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