Aquatic spectators looking to release their inner child without children around have an opportunity this weekend. On Friday September 13th, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas hosts its fifth annual event Scale & Ales, benefitting their education and conservation efforts. With music, 35 restaurants, a long list of Abita beer to taste, as well as wine and specialty cocktails set up throughout the Aquarium and outside on the lawn of Woldenberg Park.
“First of all, being on the river is so beautiful,” says Public Relations Manager Katie Smith, “but after hours inside the aquarium is a great experience as well.”
Cover band, The Atlanta Show Stoppers, will be headlining the music and stoking dancing shoes outside, while guests are welcome to go inside the glistening green glass cylinder that houses one of the country’s top subaquatic facilities.
Bites from Antoine’s, Galatoire’s and a special VIP preparation of an invasive predator by Chef Tenney Flynn of GW Fins are all on the Scales & Ales menu along with many more local eateries.
Smith says incorporating Chef Flynn’s Lionfish dish is “unique to this year” and mentions they are the only festival doing this. It’s a continuation of Flynn’s effort to create a demand for the invasive species, while influencing a culture of sustainability. In the past, Chef Tenney has hosted “trashfish” dinners, creating a one of a kind meal featuring the Lionfish, which is not usually served in restaurants.
His goal is inline with the Audubon Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) sustainability program.
“Lionfish have become a serious problem for our local ecosystem,” said Aquarium Director of Husbandry James Arnold. They have the capacity to do significant harm to the reefs and native populations in the Caribbean and Gulf, if not controlled, because they do not have any natural predators.
Chef Flynn said, “They are one of the few invasive species that are actually quite delicious.” To get a taste of Chef Flynn’s creation, partygoers must be VIP’s.
Regular tickets start at $45, and Patron (VIP) tickets are $100 per person, but Katie says it gives attendees “quite the advantage” because they get to arrive an hour earlier for the Patron Party starting at 7 pm, allowing guests to “get their bearings and relax.” There’s also seating in the VIP area outside, as well as two exclusive VIP Abita Beers, the SOS Pumpkin and Peach Firkin.
Food and drink are included in ticket price. Scales & Ales ensues from 8-11 p.m.
The Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans is a non-profit organization that runs ten parks and museums. The IMAX theatre will close at 2 pm so the Aquarium can set up for Scale & Ales.