Relish in Louisiana’s Italian Culture

There are opportunities to learn about, and celebrate, Italian culture in all corners of the state!

Tangipahoa Italian Festival in Tickfaw, LA

Head to the Tangipahoa Italian Festival in Tickfaw, LA

Tangipahoa Italian Festival in Tickfaw, LA

Taste Italian food and sample cookies at the Italian Festival in Tickfaw.

Louisiana is a vastly diverse state, a melting pot full of history and a wide variety of cultural influences. Take a trip to explore Louisiana’s strong Italian background.

The Italian culture comes alive each year at The Italian Festival in Tickfaw. Traditionally held on the last weekend in April, the Tickfaw Italian Festival blends authentic Italian food, great music, and a wholesome family atmosphere for one of the most popular festivals in southeast Louisiana. Grilled Italian sausage, stuffed artichokes, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, muffalettas, pizza, cannolis and fresh baked Italian cookies are on the menu throughout the festival. The annual Spaghetti Cook-off serves as a prelude to the festival. Local families and teams gather to see who can claim the coveted prize of having the best “red gravy.” Visitors to the Spaghetti Cook-off can sample the gravies throughout the competition. Complementing the food is a stellar music line up with some of the best local and regional bands. This festival is three great days of food, music and family fun.

Over in Independence, you’ll find the Independence Sicilian Heritage Festival. What started as the Little Italy Festival now celebrates the Italian, and more specifically, Sicilian heritage of the area during the second weekend of March. While the town has been honoring its Italian culture since the ‘70s, the festival was voted the Best New Festival of 2012 by the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals. The festival features a spaghetti cook-off, spaghetti eating contest and meatball toss competition – along with a parade, fantastic food, rides and games, live music and arts & crafts.

Just minutes from New Orleans is the city of Kenner’s Italian Heritage Festival, which takes place in the spring. The festival was started by former Kenner Chief of Police Nick Congemi to celebrate the rich Italian heritage that was a vital part of the foundation of the area. Get a taste of authentic Italian cuisine served up by a multitude of local vendors, and get your groove on as the sounds of live local music fill the air.

And nothing says “Only Louisiana” like a parade! The Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade, established in 1984, rolls through Metairie on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The St. Bernard Irish Italian Islenos Parade rolls every April in Chalmette with dozens of floats full of beads, cups and even produce to catch! You heard that right. This unique procession throws thousands of pounds of cabbage, potatoes, onions, carrots and more to cheering crowds.

Looking to learn more about Louisiana’s Italian heritage and culture? In New Orleans, pay a visit to the American Italian Cultural Center, which promotes the culture and heritage of the American Italian community by offering Italian language and culture classes, seminars, concerts and events. About an hour away is the Independence Italian Cultural Museum, housed in a century-old former Catholic church. The museum contains photographs, artifacts, artwork and religious items, which provide a glimpse into the Italian heritage and lifestyle of the area. Take a trip to Shreveport to check out the Multicultural Center of the South. Since 1999, the center has been featuring cultural exhibits, musical programs, artistic endeavors and demonstrations to educate visitors on the rich diversity of the state.