ISLETON — Festivalgoers came by the busload Sunday to experience the Cajun vibe at the Delta Loop.
A new location didn’t deter the masses from attending the Cajun and Blues Festival this year. With a lineup featuring Grammy-award winning artists and Louisiana-inspired cuisine, people came from afar to experience the Southern vibe on Brannan Island.
“We’re big fans of the New Orleans Jazz Festival,” said San Francisco resident Rafael Morales, alongside friends and family. “This is the closest you can get to it in Northern California.”
Southern-inspired blues music by The Terry Hanck Band and Friends lit up the dance floor, and beyond the main stage street percussionist John King II, of Sacramento, lured onlookers as he tapped on his makeshift drum set that included garbage bins, tin cans and 5-gallon buckets.
JD McPherson and Marcia Ball were the scheduled headliners Sunday, and the previous evening saw the Kyle Rowland Blues Band and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys take the stage.
While couples danced, lines held steady at most of the food tents, which advertised Southern vittles such as gator on a stick, jambalaya and duck gumbo.
After eating three pounds of crawfish as well as frog legs and gumbo, Morales said his group had little room left for the beignet, a New Orleans classic.
“We filled up on the essentials first, then we’ll think about the dough,” Morales said. “We gotta pace ourselves.”
The food options maintained authenticity as Lake County-based vendor Hal, who refused to give his last name, cooked crawfish and alligator that came from Louisiana and used a beignet mix from the New Orleans mainstay Café Du Monde.
Riverside County vendor Danielle Pearson said her oysters, jambalaya and frog legs were authentic and homemade. After working the festival for five years, the Louisiana native said it’s clear people want the Cajun experience. But Pearson still misses some things about home.
“Folks are just so friendly out there . . . ,” she said. “There’s a slower pace out there, too. I miss that.”
The Isleton Chamber of Commerce revived the event, which was known as the Crawdad Festival in years past, as the Cajun & Blues Festival in 2011, said chamber president Lynette Brister. The festival seeks to benefit the area’s businesses by drawing people to the local resorts and restaurants, she said.
At its new location of Delta Boat Storage, Brister said festivalgoers had more options with ample dock space, campgrounds and RV parking nearby.
“We wanted to bring people in by land and by water,” she said.
A few miles west of the festival, people could park for free in a rural lot off Jackson Slough Road.
Sacramento resident V. John White waited for about 20 minutes before boarding one of three shuttle buses that transported people to and from the show. Although he was concerned about the return trip, White wasn’t discouraged about the wait.
“We’re just glad to be down at the Delta . . . ,” he said. “It’s a beautiful afternoon, people are nice.”
Kevin Glynn took another route. The 37-year-old Rio Vista resident could be seen making the nearly seven-mile trek along Highway 12 from town to the festival.
“It’s just within range of where I live to walk, and even though it’s farther than some people think, I felt like I could keep walking until I got here,” he said.
Once inside the festival gates, Glynn had one thing in mind.
“I’m thinking of getting something to drink,” he said.
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.