Cajun Shrimp Rolls / Free Flow Festival

I have a confession, I am not a fan of festivals.

As a Louisiana girl, it’s pretty much like saying I don’t like crawfish (these words have never crossed my lips, btw.) I’ve tried over the years to find a way to like them. I love music and food so I should love festivals - they provide both at the same time. What I don’t like is crowds, drunk people and Port-A-Potty’s which are all so abundant at festivals. My penchant for quick aggravation and the inability to keep my mouth shut makes festivals a breeding ground of trouble for me.

I live blocks from what I believe to be one of the best festivals in this country. A free festival that celebrates French-speaking regions and their music. Festival International de Louisiane is held in Downtown Lafayette, Louisiana. All of Downtown is part of it with no gates or barriers so it helps a crowd-phobic person like me to find small escape hatches to avoid throngs of people traveling like cattle being corralled.Three years ago I convinced myself that I had grown enough as a person to go on the busiest day of Festival International - Saturday. I pack the kids up and head down with my precious 3-year-old leading the pack and Lucius at the rear. As we get closer and the crowd starts to surround us I can feel the sure-fire signs of Mom paranoia sinking in. I start to wonder how I can keep a death grip on three children with only two hands. I did the next best thing - put my equally paranoid oldest child in charge of my free spirited middle. We were all doing okay till it happened. A grown man runs into my baby almost shoving her to the ground, then he turns and looks at us like we were at fault. Yeah, because me slowly walking and firmly gripping my three years old hand is the obvious aggressor in this situation. Before I could stop myself I found myself lunging at the back of this man ready to spin him around and tell him just what I think of a grown man that pushes children down. Luckily Lucius, knowing my issue of being unable to put my anger back in the bottle, stopped me and quickly distracted me with an escape route out of the crowd. I took some breathes and thought, "Okay, stay cool Jolie, I can still do this." Then those ever famous words from your toddler while doing the equally famous crotch-grabbing dance, “Momma I have toopeeeeeee!!!!

I could tell by the dance and pained face that we did not have time for the walk home. I picked her up and snuck us into the VIP Porta-A-Potties. "We made it!" We were going to avoid the looming catastrophe. Unfortunately, once we get in, Mom-Brain sets in and all the germs and the possibility of my child falling into the whole of filth will not let me sit on that seat. As she starts yelling “Pee Pee! Pee Pee! Pee Pee!” I hatch a plan to hold her over the bullseye. I don’t know if you have held a 3-year-old little girl over a toilet seat but if you haven’t, don’t, their aim is about as good as a blind man hunting squirrels. She proceeds to relieve herself and only about 10% of it lands in its proper location. The rest is on my skirt, my legs and completely covered my expensive Dutch leather sandals. When she finishes she looks down and starts hysterically giggling. As loud as she can possibly say she screams out “Momma you pee-peeed yourself!!” So there I am leaving a Port-A-Potty with a large line of people watching me and my pee soaked outfit exit. Of course, I wanted to announce that I had not in fact peed myself but what was the point, the damage was done and I was wearing all the physical evidence. Needless to say, that was the end of our day and the end of venturing out on busy Festival days. I will stick with my Sunday mornings with small crowds, amazing Bloody Marys, and a pee free ensemble.

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