Since I would be riding across the buckle of the boudin belt I also had numerous sausage stops planned as I waged my journey but that’s a tale for another day.Downtown Abbeville on a clear October morning could be the setting of a Ray Bradbury short story. There’s a golden quality to the sunlight and the aged facades of the storefronts have an ethereal cast to them. Abbeville’s quaint in the fashion of small towns across the rural American south. You could just as easily be in Milledgeville, Georgia or Demopolis, Alabama.
I immediately make my way down a blacktop street heavy with food booths. I’m starving and cannot wait to set upon some beef that’s been wrangled from a nearby ranch. Unfortunately there’s precious little steer or cow to be had at the Cattle Festival.If you need a blooming onion or a bowl of spinach soup carved out of a hunk of bread you’re sitting pretty. A tomahawk ribeye? Get in the Pontiac and go elsewhere.
A lady has set up a small, homely booth consisting of a large crockpot, a card table and an oversized tub of potato salad. She’s hosting a benefit and selling shrimp and crab gumbo to accomplish her goal. $6 gets you a pint of gumbo and a side of some of the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten
The gumbo is cold and nearly flavor-free. Everybody in New Orleans can’t make red beans and rice and apparently everyone in Acadiana can’t make gumbo.The queens of the Cattle Festival come strolling along the avenue. Louisiana is home to some of the most beautiful women on the planet and these young ladies put truth to that old maxim.
The Abbeville Cattle Festival is in its 69th year and the fortunes of the city have waxed and waned just as its signature party has. Expect changes next year as the event will be moved to an as yet unnamed location and the event will see a perimeter fence built with gates installed.
This years party is barely getting started and it’s already time to leave. I’m on the trail of boudin blanc and have heard that Hebert’s Slaughterhouse, just up the road, makes a fine version.
Perhaps I’ll return next month when the townspeople gather together to crack over 5,000 eggs and cook a giant omelette over a wood-burning fire.