Everyone loves a good beignet in New Orleans. I am from the Northeast, and I tried my first beignet at an off-brand Cafe du Monde, the name of which I am forgetting as it was that much of a hole in the wall. It was a sweet treat of fried dough, both crispy and gooey, with lots of powdered sugar. New Orleans is known for its food, especially its beignets, and three years ago, Beignet Fest was introduced to New Orleans’ line-up of celebration. This festival has a notable music lineup, many independent art vendors, and an amazing food selection. The variation of beignet vendors ranged from The Ruby Slipper Cafe, hosting a Bananas Foster beignet, to a crawfish beignet from Katie’s Restaurant.

This festival is different from others in that it was started three years ago by Amy and Sherwood Collins to raise money for grants for the Tres Doux Foundation. The mission of the Tres Doux Foundation is to provide equal opportunities for children with autism in a way that recognizes and celebrates their developmental disabilities. The Tres Doux Foundation is a nonprofit that helps to fund programs for children on the autism range, specifically in New Orleans. Amy and Sherwood Collins created this organization in response to lack of programming and opportunities for the developmentally disabled or delayed, after finding out that their own son was on the autism spectrum. The Beignet Fest is the most prevalent form of funds for the Tres Doux Foundation and these funds are given to local nonprofits in service of this mission.

Another festival, Mac N Cheese Fest, is self-explanatory in its name: many restaurants come together to provide delicious combinations of mac and cheese, grilled cheese concoctions, and other savory combinations. Some of the vendors include Superior Seafood, Gonzo’s Smokehouse and BBQ, and Creole Sneaux. This festival also donates a portion of its proceeds to the Tres Doux Foundation, demonstrating that food festivals can be fun and delicious but also have a deeper purpose. Learn more about the Tres Doux Foundation here!

In my opinion, these socially conscious festivals show the innovative and contemporary nature of New Orleans. Beignet Fest was created with the intention of serving a social problem in New Orleans, which is lack of programming and opportunity for children with developmental delays. Now, when going to stuff your face with way too many beignets, you’ll know you are affecting a greater cause and you will probably want to support these festivals more. Go ahead and feast, it’s for a good cause.

COVER PHOTO: Nicole Kaufman