It’s a hot and sunny day at the 15th annual Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival, and Santa is out greeting the children. An unexpected guest in September, Santa insists it’s never too early to get in the holiday spirit.
“Christmas is only 99 days away,” he laughs. “Besides, the kids love seeing me here; it puts a smile on their face.”
Santa wasn’t the only holiday guest to make an appearance at the Meat Pie Festival. Friday night, Dark Woods staff stopped by to scare festivalgoers and advertise their upcoming event in October.
Among the festival’s activities were a mechanical bull, rock climbing wall, fireworks show and meat pie cooking demonstration.
Leading the demonstration were NSU’s Hospitality, Management and Tourism Coordinator Connie Jones and Summer Thomas, a junior in the department.
“This is my first year working at a festival,” Thomas says. “I got to teach [NSU President] Dr. Maggio how to make a meat pie. He seemed to have a lot of fun with it.”
The festival, which attracts roughly 6,000 people annually, is usually held on the riverbank but was moved to the city’s fairgrounds due to construction.
Organizer Doc Couty says the location change has been a positive experience.
“We have more room here for parking and a wider variety of activities and vendors,” he says.
One new activity was a tethered hot air balloon, which drew interest from many Natchitoches residents, including graduate student Holly Smith.
“The hot-air balloon was amazing,” she says. “It wasn’t scary at all, and I got to check something off my bucket list.”
Senior elementary education major Gabrielle D’Antoni says her favorite part of the festival was getting to spend time with her friends over delicious food.
“The Meat Pie Festival is great for college students because it provides an environment where you can hang out in a safe environment at a low cost,” she says. “Plus, you get to meet a lot of cool people.”
Couty hopes the festival will continue to grow and provide a safe, cheap and family-oriented environment for Natchitoches residents.