Party with a Purpose
The second annual Beignet Festival (Oct. 7) is set to be one of the biggest family friendly festivals to take place in New Orleans. In fact, they’ve opted to move it from Lafayette Square to City Park just to accommodate all of the revelers that are sure to come out, listen to great local music, and partake in some of the delectable sweet and savory beignet creations that will be available. And it’s all in an effort to fund grants given to programs that serve developmentally disabled children.
Founders Sherwood and Amy Collins met when they were working at another beloved New Orleans musical fundraiser: Wednesdays at the Square. They fell in love and had kids of their own, but one of them was diagnosed with autism. Through their special needs child, they were introduced to the autism community in the city and realized that more could be done.“We had this idea of being able to work together again and do this festival,” Amy says. “It sort of just came together because there was a need to raise money and awareness for these programs. We blended the two ideas, and voila! Basically, what we did is establish our own foundation, which we call the Tres Doux Foundation, which is French for “very sweet” and goes with the whole beignet motif. We looked at programs in the city that were happening and how we were able to expand those programs to serve more kids with our grant money.”
The inaugural fest was a success; Amy and Sherwood were able to raise $25,000 that benefitted four organizations: the Ochsner Hospital for Children to get more autism diagnosis kits; Families Helping Families; the YMCA of Greater New Orleans; and the Autism Society of Greater New Orleans. In 2017, they’d like to do at least twice as much for their foundation.
In addition to having 14 vendors serving up amazing beignet creations of all kinds, attendees will be entertained by a variety of artists all hand-picked by Sherwood. “I was in radio for so long and met so many musicians,” he says. “I worked at WWOZ as an on-air DJ for 10 years doing the New Orleans Music Show. We’re happy to have the Imagination Movers this year; they’re a very kid-centric New Orleans band that did really well with their show on Disney.” Sherwood also chose the Hill Country Hounds, the Brass-a-holics and Eric Lindell to round out his entertainment lineup.
Amy and Sherwood don’t just want to throw another festival though; this event is an attempt to live out their mission of raising awareness about the local autism community. “It was real important to us that it be family friendly for all kids,” Amy says. “Living our own mission of making things more accessible to children with autism, we have partnered with Ochsner and their autism program called the Child Development Center. We will have adaptive activities for children with developmental delays in the Kid’s Village at the festival. They’ve brought in their occupational therapists and speech therapists that they call expert hands to help facilitate some of the activities.” Kids will be able to play traditional games like Jenga as well as do more sensory-oriented activities, like making slime, which can be therapeutic to autistic children.
This free festival may be the very first of its kind due to its emphasis on being inclusionary for those who are differently-abled. Amy and Sherwood want everyone to come mingle and get to know their fellow New Orleanians over a truly local treat. beignetfest.com
Attendees will be able to vote in the Best Beignet Contest for traditional and non-traditional sweet and savory beignets.
Café Beignet: Traditional Beignets
Café Maspero: Beignet Fries
Girls Gone Vegan: Vegan Gluten-Free Beignets, Vegan Gluten-Free Doughnuts, Vegan Gluten-Free Brownies
Howlin’ Wolf Den: Award-Winning Bacon and Cheddar Beignets with Chipotle Crema
Jambalaya Girl: Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Legacy Kitchen: Crawfish Beignets
Loretta’s Authentic Pralines: Praline Beignets, Chocolate Praline Beignets, Crabmeat Beignets, Hamburger/Hot Sausage Beignets
Luca Eats: Oreo Beignets
New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co.: Traditional Beignets, Beignet Bites
Old School Eats: Blueberry Compote and Whipped Goat Cheese-Stuffed Beignets, Beignets with Candied Bacon Crumble and Apple Bourbon Sausage
Royal House: Gulf Fish Beignets
The Ruby Slipper Café: Cochon Beignets, Bananas Foster Beignets, Tasso Crème Beignets
Sno-LA: Beignet Sno-balls, Café Crème Sno-balls
Zippy Fruit Company: Pirate Beignet Crumbles, Fresh Fruit Cones, Smoothie Pops