Once again it's time for the annual Po-Boy Festival! Taking place this Sunday, November 23 at the intersection of Oak St. and Carrollton Avenue. It'll feature the finest crafters of the ubiquitous New Orleans po-boy.
Po-Boy is actually a misnomer, or maybe just the "Dat" dialect getting it right down to size . It began as the "Poor Boy". According to local legend, it all began in 1929 when the unionized streetcar carmen and conductors (Division 194) went on strike. In those days, the holdouts were long and "scabs" were brought in to take over the strikers job. The strikers grew poorer and poorer as the long fight dragged on.
The Martin Brothers' coffee stand and restaurant stepped up to help feed the strikers. In a letter of support, they promised: "Our meal is free to any members of Division 194." The letter ended: "We are with you till h--l freezes, and when it does, we will furnish blankets to keep you warm."
Their sandwiches began with whole loaves of French Bread, stuffed full, but the ends had to be off and wasted. Eventually, a custom sized bread was made (the po-boy loaf) and the men ate well in those difficult times. Eventually they lost the battle and the Great Depression fell over the land, but the brothers' kindness and creation was long-remembered and soon became an integral part of the city's cultural landscape.
The brothers said later, "We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, one of us would say, 'Here comes another poor boy.'"
And so the famous sandwich was born and surely the brothers would be pleased to see all the combinations and varieties available, but probably not amazed; once New Orleans takes hold of something, we always make it bigger and better!
Awards will given for:
- Best Shrimp Po-Boy
- Best Beef Po-Boy
- Best Sausage Po-Boy
- Best Specialty Seafood Po-Boy
- Best Specialty Meat Po-Boy
- Best Pork Po-Boy
- Best Oyster
The festival is free to all and runs from 10am - 9pm. Of course, it wouldn't be a New Orleans festival without music and there will be plenty of it, including one of our favorites: The Rebirth Brass Band.
So get'cha butt out this Sunday to eat, shop, drink and dance!For more information, including how to get there by streetcar, bicycle, bus or car, visit the official Oak Street Po-Boy Festival page.