A New Orleans Favorite – The Creole Tomato Festival

Fertile, alluvial (made from sand and/or earth left by rivers) soil south of New Orleans in St. Bernard and/or Plaquemines Parishes is what truly defines a Creole tomato in the Greater New Orleans area. The plants are grown and harvested all over the Southern Louisiana region, but true Creole tomatoes get their unique color, shape and flavor from the type of soil in which they are planted.

“It’s a more intense, stronger taste, and the flavor has more acid; to me, it kind of has an earthy taste that you don’t get from any other tomato,” says Ben Becnel Jr. is a sixth-generation farmer at the family-run Ben & Ben Becnel’s Farmstand in Belle Chasse.

Because of the semi-tropical, coastal, southern climes in Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes, Creole tomatoes can also grow and be picked from mid-April, all the way to the next January, weather permitting. This differentiates this unique tomato from others grown in the state as well.

These tomatoes were featured in the 37th Annual Creole Tomato Festival, held June 10th and 11th at the New Orleans French Market. Originally founded in 1986, the weekend’s festival included live music, artists,surrounding restaurants offering Creole tomato special dishes, kids’ activities and cooking demos.

Live music was held on 3 stages throughout the weekend, and fifteen vendors sold locally sourced tomatoes in culinary delights, such as fried green tomatoes, shrimp remoulade and seafood gazpacho. The French Market in New Orleans is the oldest open-air market in the United States, and the weekend’s events reflected that unique history and heritage.

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Mortgage Rate Decreases to Lowest Levels Since March

Between home prices and home inventory, the housing market has been a struggle for those home buyers interested in buying a new home for sale or a previously-built resale. Home inventories has not rebounded from being “wiped out” during the pandemic when interest rates dropped to the lowest levels ever seen. The amount of homes being built by new home builders have not recovered enough to supply the demand that is in the market. Also, homeowners who were thinking about selling their homes are in a holding pattern because the interest rates have been so high that it has been prohibitive to sell a home and purchase a new one with a loan which would have more than double the interest rate of their current home loan.

Good news came to home buyers though when mortgage interest rates dropped to their lowest level in 5 weeks. The average interest rate dropped to 6.35%, down from 6.73% in March, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Interest rates which are closer to 6% versus 7% are always good news.

“This week’s decrease continues a recent sideways trend in mortgage rates, which is a welcome departure from the record increases of last year,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

The focus of interest rates is the debt-to-income ratio which lenders calculate to see how much a home buyer can afford to buy. The increase in interest rates has shown a huge discrepancy in monthly payments because of the difference of hundreds of dollars in monthly loan payment cost. The same house at the same price could be priced out of a home buyer’s affordability range due to it changing the debt-to-income ratio.

So, the decrease in mortgage rates is good news for now. Nationally, inflation is also down, so it will be a game of wait-and-see to see what the Federal Reserve with interest rates now that inflation is cooling.

For now, home buyers have a couple of choices to deflect the high interest rates. The first one is to buy now and refinance later. There are buyers who think that these high rates will eventually come down, so they will go ahead and buy a home at a higher rate and then refinance it later when the rates drop. Another option to purchase a new home is called a mortgage rate buydown. Buyers who qualify can get a lender program, where they pay for a couple to few years at a lower interest rate with an agreement the rate will go up. When the rate goes up, the home buyer has the option to refinance to stay at a lower rate.

So, overall, the decrease in interest rates, no matter how slight, can be a sign of better days to come in the real estate market.

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2023 Beignet Fest, September 23, 2023

A day of live music, fun for kids, a local artist market and all the beignets you can think of!

2023 Beignet Fest

City Park Festival Grounds
Henry Thomas Drive
New Orleans, LA 70124

Saturday, September 23, 2023
10:00AM – 6:00PM

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New Orleans Dance Mardi Gras Last Day, July 23, 2023

Social Dancing starts at 10pm nightly!

New Orleans Dance Mardi Gras

Sheraton New Orleans Hotel
500 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Sunday, July 23, 2023
7:30AM – 3:30PM

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Saturday, New Orleans Dance Mardi Gras, July 22, 2023

Social Dancing and an Amazing Mardi Gras experience!

New Orleans Dance Mardi Gras

Sheraton New Orleans Hotel
500 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Saturday, July 22, 2023
7:00AM – 11:00PM

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