NEW ORLEANS — Thanksgiving at the Fair Grounds is steeped in tradition. This year is special because it's the first Thanksgiving since the pandemic they've been able to open without any restrictions.
Of course, since it's Turkey Day, food is top of mind, literally. One family we spoke with made hats featuring food you would find on the Thanksgiving table.
“We have turkey over here. We’ve got a little baby cake. We have sweet potato casserole, two more cakes over here, corn," Jasper Friend said. "I’m rocking deviled eggs. Actually, she made her own hat, cranberry sauce, and then we also have mashed potatoes and gravy coming.”
Friend has been coming out to the Fair Grounds since 2009.
Others, like Morgan Brooks, come when they're able to enjoy a day off.
"For me, it’s just not being at work. Just a day off, doing stuff," Brooks said.
Whatever draws you out, there's a lot to take in.
“Watching some horse racing. Watching people too," Brooks said.
Don't let the hats fool you.
It's a serious business. After all, there's money on the line.
“I’m thankful for the 462 team members that are spending their Thanksgiving Day here with us making it happen for our guests," Fair Grounds President, Doug Shipley, said.
If you come out for the rest of the season, you'll notice something new, a video screen instead of the old-school tote board.
"It was with us for, had to be over 50 years, but thanks to Ida it took it out and we've rebuilt back bigger, better, and we're really really proud of it," Shipley said, "It's literally probably one of the nicest tote boards in the country. And it's pretty whiz-bang for lack of a better term."
It's not your traditional sit-down dinner, but the spirit of Thanksgiving was in the air.
“Family. Thankful for family," one mother told us.
“I’m thankful for Jasper making all of us the hats," one boy said.
Let's be honest, it's all about the hats.