Celebrate bayou culture at this unique festival.

Rougarou Fest
Credit: Matthew Noel for Houma Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Close to Southeast Louisiana or feeling spontaneous? You may want to consider ditching your weekend plans and heading to Houma, Louisiana for the seventh annual Rougarou Fest taking place this Saturday and Sunday, October 26th and 27th.

So before you embark on a festival pilgrimage, what, exactly is a Rougarou, you ask? Us too. "The Rougarou is a mythological 'swamp werewolf' of sorts (in traditional French 'Loup Garou'). With the head of a wolf and body of a human, he is said to haunt locals who don't observe their Lenten penance or are just plain old misbehaving," so the story goes according to Joni Pitre Duet, PR and Communications Manager for the Houma Convention and Visitors Bureau. "He's not a bright character, though. He's got some trouble counting past 12, so it's local-knowledge that putting 13 pennies at your door step or hanging a colander at your entry way will have him stumped because he has to restart every time he gets to 12."

To celebrate this fabled creature, this yearly festival goes all out to celebrate this legend popular in Lousiaina bayou culture—and it's all for a good cause, too. "Rougarou Fest is a free, two-day, family-friendly festival [from which the] proceeds go to the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center—a non-profit organization that brings light and education about Louisiana's disappearing coastline," Pitre Duet shares with Southern Living. "Aside from delicious foods like alligator tacos, blackberry dumplings, gumbos, and other Cajun fare (which, by the way, all the local seafood and blackberries are donated, peeled, and prepared by locals who support this festival), and local music, the festival has some pretty quirky happenings throughout the weekend." This year, some highlights icnclude a "Rougarou Storytelling" with screenwriter Glen Pitre, the Pardoning of the Nutria (think turkey pardoning, but with a swamp rat), and the Krewe Ga Rou Parade, with floats and costumes galore. Learn more and see the full festival schedule at RougarouFest.org.

Rougarou Fest 2
Credit: Matthew Noel for Houma Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

While mingling with the crowd—parade officials expect up to 15,000 revelers—you'll also want to be sure to try to meet the 2019 Rougarou Queen, Shannon Loupe Eaton, and maybe even Rougarou himsel. Loupe Eaton is a Houma native whose passion is teaching youth how to swim. "I had no idea how specifically unique our little pocket of Cajun Country is until I started attending statewide teaching workshops and found that most Louisianan's have never heard of a Rougarou." Loupe Eaton said in a press release.

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"I am awe-stricken by springtime in the Louisiana swamps." Loupe Eaton continued. "To think that the exquisite blue/violet hues of iris blooms could come from such an environment reminds me that strength is beauty and can originate even from sticky-icky muddy waters."

We'll be splashing, smiling, and celebrating right along with you, Queen Rougarou. Catch ya down by the bayou.