Photos: Bayou and Blues Festival
LONG BEACH — From time to time, Rosamond resident Simon Lewis gets homesick for Louisiana, where he was born and raised.
So for Lewis, who tries to visit his home state about every three years, events like Saturday's Long Beach Bayou and Blues Festival help.
"It makes you feel right at home," he said.
Lewis was among the hundreds who gathered Saturday for the 27th-annual event at Rainbow Lagoon Park in downtown Long Beach.
Every year, the Southern California seaside home of the historic Queen Mary is transformed into a massive Louisiana-style party filled with Blues music, Cajun and Creole food and dancing from New Orleans and the Louisiana Bayou Country.
Under breezy, blue skies, Mardi Gras-beaded, necklace-wearing guests downed crawfish and beignets, took pictures with washboards, saxophones and other instruments and sat in foldout chairs swaying to the sounds of Sweet Baby Jai, Blue Dice and the Bayou Brothers.
One popular element to the event was Zydeco Aerobic Fitness Workout with instructor/entrepreneur Mona Lisa Doshier, whose moves merge exercise with Louisiana-rooted Zydeco music.
"It's a biz craze in Louisiana right now," the Lake Charles, La., native said. "It's fun, high energy and you can work out at your own pace."
The festival featured some familiar things -- booths selling hush puppies, jambalaya and catfish po boy sandwiches -- and some other things that one wouldn't immediately equate to Louisiana, such as window replacement and memory foam pillow vendors.
"We're just trying to target all of the shows, promote our business and just get the word out there," said Martha Jimenez, who represents Orange County-based Feel My Pillows, adding that the families present at this event should help sales.
After several years of producing the festival for Rainbow Promotions, LLC, Kimberly Benoit and her family will fully take on the festival management responsibilities under Benoit Entertainment Group, LLC, according to the festival website.
Even though it's been around for 27 years, this is Diamond Bar resident Philip Stewart's first time at the Long Beach festival.
"It just seemed like fun," he said.
His wife, Kim Stewart, said her family comes from Louisiana.
"The festival is amazing; I love the music," she said. The Zydeco music feels like home to me. You don't usually get Zydeco music in Southern California too often, so it's really nice to enjoy."
The festival continues on Sunday with Big J McNeely, the Pine Leaf Boys Cajun Band and Jo Jo Reed and the Happy Hill Zydeco Band. Gates opening at 11 a.m. Visit longbeachfestival.com for tickets, a schedule of events and directions.