SAN ANTONIO — At the Sunken Garden Theater, the smell of shrimp creole and po' boys is filling the air.
Taste of New Orleans is back for Fiesta 2022. It's bringing the vibe of the Big Easy to the Alamo City at the Sunken Garden Theater.
It's the 35th year for the celebration, hosted by the San Antonio Zulu Association.
Check out photos below from the festival on Saturday:
"I love anything that has to do with New Orleans," said Paula Villanueva, who wore her feather-trimmed umbrella and Mardi Gras attire to the event.
Each bite of crawfish etouffee, red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo and crab rolls will leave you wanting more.
"True New Orleans boudin!" said a first-timer. "Two years ago I was in Galveston for their Mardi Gras. This is better!"
"This needs a little more butter... Oooooh!" said Dave Saylor of Acadiana Cafe, as he cooked up fresh crawfish etouffee. "This is crawfish etouffee with 7 1/2 secret herbs and spices."
Pieter Sypesteyn, Chef and Owner of NOLA Brunch & Beignets, anticipates handing out 3,000 orders of beignets over the three-day event.
We asked Sypesteyn how to cook the perfect beignet.
"We put a lot of love into each one. We love on them, barely cook them through and hit them heavy with the powdered sugar," he explained. "If you don't leave this proximity without powdered sugar all over yourself, you're doing it wrong."
Proceeds from Taste of New Orleans fund 20 scholarships for local students. This year, they're also giving back to Donate Life Texas.
"I think the people are just ready. It's not about spending the money. It's about coming out, feeling entertained, doing something different," said Leroy Sance, President of the San Antonio Zulu Association.
Organizers hope to welcome 30,000 excited Fiesta goers this weekend to not only enjoy the tasty food, but the live music and family-friendly event.
A section of the event is focused on the children, with games and gifts for families to enjoy.
UTSA Anheuser-Busch Foundation Professor in Marketing, Dr. David Bojanic, says 20% of the people who come to Fiesta events like Taste of New Orleans are tourists. That's based on Fiesta 2016 numbers. Those tourists, in total, bring in $188 million in revenue.
Money aside, Bojanic says the biggest impact of Fiesta is on community spirit.
"These are things that when you don't have them, it really takes a lot out of people. Their enthusiasm, the way they're looking at life and living life," said Bojanic.
He says the vast majority of Fiesta tourists come from across Texas.
To get to Taste of New Orleans, you can use VIA's Fiesta service from Crossroads and Randolph Park and Rides. Another option is parking down the street at the San Antonio Zoo's parking garage, free of charge.
The fun continues through Sunday. To order your food and Blast Pass bands in advance, visit saza.org.