Nola Food Fest hopes to bring new business to New Orleans

Published: Mar. 24, 2013 at 9:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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New Orleans, La -- One of the first big festivals of spring attracted thousands in the French Quarter Sunday. The New Orleans Food Fest is also helping to bring new business to the area.

Gus's Fried Chicken is well known in Tennessee where the company is based. After setting up shop at the New Orleans Food Fest, and getting a great reception from locals, the company is now considering bringing a franchise to New Orleans. It would be their first store in Louisiana. "It is a hospitable food kind of town. I mean New Orleans people, they know food there's no question about that and the way that we've been embraced here, it just seems like it would be a perfect marriage," said Wendy McCrory of Gus's Chicken.

That is music to festival organizers ears. The goal of the event is to not only showcase great food, but to encourage more economic growth here. Festival organizer Dottie Belletto explains, "We are talking to these vendors, we are introducing them to our city, they're taking to our chefs in the restaurants. We have different types and styles of products that could be sold here."

The festival started in 2008 and Belletto says it's been growing in popularity ever since. In fact, about 40,000 people are expected to visit this weekend.

"People come here to eat and that's what New Orleans is all about, great food," Belletto said.

Thirty different vendors make up this year's fest. Half of them are from areas outside of New Orleans.

The Tucson Tamale Company is based in Tucson, Arizona. Nola Food Fest is the only festival they go to outside of Arizona. "We love it. It's our third year and it's been great," one of the company founders said Sunday.

It's not only the vendors who love this event, so do out of town visitors who come in specifically for the good eats. LuAnn Lamar from Meridian, Mississippi said, "I've been here for this festival before and it's nice to just walk up and see what's going on and New Orleans always has great opportunity for lots of different festivals and things to do and it's always fun to come down and spend the day."

Organizers anticipate Nola Food Fest will grow in the coming years...and they hope more businesses will decide to set up shop in New Orleans, as a result.