When October arrives, those lazy summer months fall to the wayside and festival season kicks into high gear. I had our calendar booked and had mentally prepared the family for a packed weekend.

Pony rides at the Children’s Book Festival

We started off Saturday strapping the kids in their strollers, loading them up with dinosaurs and drink cups and setting off for Latter Library on St. Charles Avenue. The New Orleans Children’s Book Festival was already swarming with pint-sized individuals and their parents when we arrived. Stacks of free books, categorized by age, lined the entrance walk. Charles nearly squealed with delight when his plea for a dinosaur book was answered with My Teacher is a Dinosaur, while August happily slobbered all over his First Big Book of Animals.

Hosted by New Orleans’ First Lady Cheryl Landrieu and Ruby Bridges, icon of public schools integration, the annual event featured storytelling, book signings, free food, pony rides, kids activities and lots of free books. We took pictures with the Mayor and then ate our jambalaya and Lucky Dogs in a shady spot under a tree.

Giraffes taking in the Celebración Latina

After a walk back to the house and a brief rest, we headed off in the car to the Celebración Latina at Audubon Zoo. Latin American dancers shimmied to the beat while Charles showed the crowd a few moves of his own. We lounged in the field by the stage for a bit, taking in the smells of Spanish food and picking out our dinner options. The kids didn’t last long in one spot though, and we soon made our way around the sea lions, past Monkey Hill and over to our favorites – the giraffes and mysterious white alligators.

Fall Garden Festival at the Botanical Gardens

We all slept sound that night, re-energizing ourselves for the Fall Garden Festival at City Park’s Botanical Gardens. We’re regulars at the Botanical Gardens, enjoying their normally quiet setting. The place transforms with the Garden Festival, though, when rows of vendors offer plants ranging from everyday standards to the rare and exotic. Charles and I painted pumpkins–and his face–at the children’s table, while Paul and August made the rounds buying up dozens of plants for our already overflowing yard.

We didn’t make our last destination for the weekend. I suppose I was a bit overzealous in my planning, and the Crescent City Blues and Barbecue Festival fell to the wayside. Even though we missed seeing famous musicians playing soul and blues music and passed up eating some tasty barbecue, I still wanted to mention it for all those wanting to check it out next year.

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