Gator By The Bay Returns for 12th Annual Celebration of Louisiana's Cajun Culture May 10-12, 2013

April 29, 2013

Celebrate Louisiana's Cajun culture from the shores of San Diego!  Gator By The Bay is the biggest Zydeco and Cajun festival on the West Coast and will return to Spanish Landing Park on May 10, 11 and 12, for its 12th year of bringing the rich and unique culture of Louisiana to San Diego. Presented in part by the City of San Diego, the Port of San Diego, San Diego County and the Louisiana Office of Tourism, this spirited three-day music and food festival features an impressive variety of music, entertainment and nourishment for both body and soul. For the first time this year, Latina bands have been added to the lineup, expanding the cultural and musical repertoire of the festival even further.

The City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture has named the Bon Temps Social Club “a cultural asset for San Diego.” Since the first festival in 2001, Gator By the Bay has attracted participants from more than 38 states, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Europe, and the festival’s lineup has grown over the years to include Blues, Jazz, Gypsy, Country, Honky-tonk, Swing, World Music and now the Latina sounds of Salsa, Cumbia, Bachata, and more. Dance floors will accompany every stage and dance lessons will be held all day long in a dedicated dance pavilion. If you can’t dance—don’t worry. The festival has an official “No Fault” dance policy.  Free lessons by some of the country’s best Cajun and Zydeco instructors will teach you to connect your feet, hips, and soul. The more adventurous can try playing a rub board or squeezebox at one of the free workshops.  There will also be costumed New Orleans-style parades and lots of kids’ & educational activities. More than 12,000 people are expected to attend this year's festivities!

“There really is no better way to get a taste of so many different genres of music in one place over one weekend than at Gator by the Bay,” says organizer Peter Oliver of the Bon Temps Social Club. “Every year we are broadening our spectrum and the inclusion of different types of Latina music this year will appeal to an even wider audience.”

Headlining the festival for the first time will be the Grammy-nominated Zydeco band, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, playing both Friday and Saturday. Born and raised in Eunice, Louisiana, Geno Delafose was born into a family that was deeply rooted in traditional Creole music. A now-renowned Zydeco accordionist and singer, Delafose first started his career at age 8, playing rub board (Frottoir) in his father John Delafose’s band and continued with the band until 1994. In the early ‘90s, Delafose moved on to the accordion and shortly thereafter released his first album. He is considered one of the pioneers of “Nouveau Zydeco,” deeply rooted in traditional Creole music, with strong Cajun and modern country & western influences.

What is Zydeco?  About the time that rhythm and blues, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll were filling the radios and night spots after World War II, Creoles in Louisiana were inspired to add the rubboard (originally tin roofing and barn siding materials) and big drum sound to the music they called “La La.” The results became the rollicking and unique music of zydeco.

“Zydeco music is soulfully profound. It throbs with sounds from jazz, blues, and swing with a big bottom end and an infectious syncopated beat ... you just can’t sit still,” says Peter Oliver. Members of the Bon Temps Social Club, volunteer organizers of the festival, are prone to wail “Ah-yeeeee!.....Et toi” while dancing to this energetic music.

The Gator By the Bay festival also creates a complete rich cultural experience with authentic Creole and Cajun food; and the food is as good as the music, so get ready to tackle a pile of spicy crawfish.  Gator by the Bay is proud to feature the authentic tastes of Louisiana, with many vendors making the cross- country trip especially for the festival. You’ll find more than 10,000 pounds of live crawfish boiled up with corn and potatoes throughout the weekend, plus boudín sausage, catfish, barbecue, crawfish etouffé, Po’ Boy sandwiches, seafood gumbo, jambalaya, fresh raw oysters, beignets, boiled peanuts, sweet potato pie, and homemade ice cream.  Culinary professionals from the San Diego Mesa College Culinary Arts team will demonstrate delicious Creole cooking, such as how to make Beignets, Grandma’s Jambalaya, Pralines, Chicken Creole, Muffalettas, and Banana Bread Pudding.

The South East Louisiana Gumbo, representing 10 Parishes in eastern Louisiana, will be sponsoring Chef Jim Keller, the owner of Cashios 760, one to the largest Cajun French Catering companies in Louisiana, who will be demonstrating some of his authentic Louisiana recipes at the festival cooking demo stage.

Education about the unique and colorful history and culture of Louisiana is an important component of Gator by the Bay. This year’s festival includes Cajun and Creole heritage and music workshops on the Bayou Grove Stage, with special guest speakers and artists giving musical demonstrations. Surrounded by ivy and thick shade trees, the Bayou Grove hosts a small stage among straw bales and foot paths, where headlining Louisiana musicians come to share their craft, demonstrate their instrument, and answer questions from the audience.

The three day festival will offer different performances each day.  Friday, May 10th has been dubbed “Gator by Night,” with the festival running from 3:30 pm–10:30 pm.  Tickets are $25 at the gate and there will be 11 bands, 3 stages, dancing, Supper Club atmosphere and more.  On Saturday & Sunday, from10:30 am–8:00 pm, tickets are $30 at the gate, with 17 and under FREE with an adult, and there will be 35+ acts, 5 stages, dance lessons, kids’ activities, food demos and much more. A 3-day festival discount package is also being offered for $75 and can be purchased at the gate at Spanish Landing Park on North Harbor Drive right across from the San Diego airport.  Tickets are also available online.

In partnership with the Louisiana Office of Tourism, all ticket holders will be eligible to enter a sweepstakes to win one of two trips to visit Louisiana!  Parking is available at designated lots identified on the website and there is a FREE shuttle.

For more information on Gator By The Bay, visit or call (619) 234-8612.