The Beignet Festival and Its Mission
By Ana Garcia
Click aqui para español- >El Festival del Beignet y su misión
There’s nothing like a hot, fresh beignet and a cup of coffee. But, no matter the time of the day, you will always find these tasty delicacies ready to be enjoyed throughout our city. The most popular places selling beignets are Café Du Monde, Morning Call, and Café Beignet. Even some PJ’s Coffee shops are now offering them. We recently found them at PJ’s on Read Boulevard, and they were so tasty!
Beignet is French for fritter. It is a deep-fried, puffy, square doughnut commonly served hot with sprinkled powder sugar. Beignets were introduced in Louisiana by the French Acadians in the 18th century, and in 1986, beignets became the official state doughnut of Louisiana.
The popularity of beignets has grown, and chefs have gotten creative in incorporating beignets into their menus. Such a staple deserved a special honor; hence the Beignet Fest was born in 2016. And with it, an essential purpose.
After learning that their son, Liam, was diagnosed with Autism, Amy and Sherwood Collins decided to create the Beignet Fest to help children like their son and the many families struggling to find programs serving children with Autism. “Through our journey with our son, we found a gap in programs for children on the autism spectrum, and we wanted to change that. So, I decided that creating a festival would help me transition my career. Doing it as a mission-driven fundraiser for local autism programs would help my son and thousands like him in the local community. Thus, the idea of the Beignet Fest was born!” says Sherwood Collins, Executive Director of the Beignet Fest Foundation.
The Beignet Fest is a family-friendly event that features live local music and a fully interactive and sensory-friendly Kids Village for children of all abilities. The founders found the formula for the quick success of the fest. “We take the best of New Orleans culture and entertainment, then wrap it all up in a one-day festival – all for a good cause!”
Traditional beignets are on the menu during Beignet Fest, but this one-day festival is not short of culinary creativity! On this day, you will delight your palate with all kinds of sweet and savory ones. “We have dishes like Crawfish sh and Corn Beignets, Bacon Cheddar Beignets with Chipotle Crema, Praline Beignets, Crabmeat Beignets, a Burger Beignet, Blackberry Cloud Beignets, Bacon Maple Beignets, and on and on.”
The proceeds of the Beignet Fest provide The Beignet Fest Foundation with the ability to create grants. This nonprofit organization also receives monthly donations from people who support its mission. Collins believes giving a little goes a long way. “If one thousand people donate $10 a month, it adds up to $120,000 in support over one year for local children with autism, creating a significant impact in the community.” So Collins greatly appreciates the monthly donors who have joined “Benny’s Buddies.” “It gives me the chills to think that people like you and me – everyday folks – can make such an amazing difference if we band together for such an important cause!” You can become Benny’s buddy by donating to the Beignet Fest Foundation and helping support their cause by visiting www.bennyneedsabuddy.com.
Beignet Fest will take place at the New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds on September 24, 2022, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. To find the menu, music line-up, and all the details of this year’s Beignet Fest, or to become a vendor, go to www.beignetfest.com.