NEW ORLEANS (NOLA WEEKEND) - There’s a first time for everything. This year, the National Fried Chicken Festival will move to a new location, add new experiences and charge admission for the first time since its post-pandemic return.
For the Fried Chicken Fest’s fifth anniversary, the event heads to a new, expanded home along the New Orleans Lakefront from Oct. 1 to Oct. 2.
Unlike previous years, organizers also announced the festival will require an admission fee of $15 per day or a $20 weekend pass for attendees ages 12 and older. This year’s festival will also go cashless.
“As we’ve seen with many other local and national festivals as a result of the current economic conditions, it has become increasingly impossible to continue to produce these types of large-scale events for free,” executive producer Cleveland Spears III said in a release.
In an effort to increase affordability, Spears says he’s working with many community partners to offer free transportation and parking, as well as “giving away thousands of free tickets to our first responders, teachers, students, families, and nonprofits, among others.”
Organizers also announced a slate of other changes, including an inaugural custom car showcase with hot rods, trucks and motorcycles from across the region -- an homage to Lakefront culture.
“Custom cars and trucks have always been synonymous with the New Orleans Lakefront - especially on Sundays - so it was only right that we feature them in the 2022 festival as a way to honor and celebrate this particular history of our new location,” Terence King, the festival’s director of operations, said in a release.
More experiences added to the event include a Merchant Marketplace featuring arts, crafts and wears from local artisans and designers. Plus, festival-goers can learn more about local non-profit organizations and their causes featured in a Community Corner.
Festival-goers will also have the opportunity to upgrade their experience through the return of two luxurious VIP offerings: a Chicken & Champagne VIP Lounge and a Royalty VIP Lounge.
Organizers say the food lineup will include 30 chefs and restaurants from across the U.S. Three stages will feature music performances and cooking demonstrations.
Festival attendees can also expect the return of the Best Fried Chicken Contest and Best Use of Chicken in a Dish Contest. The event will, once again, honor a culinary icon, organizers said.
In 2021, the Fried Chicken Fest was canceled for the second year in a row due to another spike in coronavirus cases in the region. Instead, organizers reimagined the festival, turning it into a weeklong celebration as part of National Fried Chicken Festival Week last October.
Since its founding in 2016, the festival has been bringing food, music, family, and festivities together in celebration of the classic southern dish. Previously, the Fried Chicken Fest has been staged at Woldenberg Riverfront Park and in Lafayette Square.
Both general admission and VIP tickets are now available for purchase on the festival’s website.
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