Gonzales is a city in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 9,781. Known as the "Jambalaya Capital of the World", it is famous for its annual Jambalaya Festival, which was first held in 1968. Stephen "Steve" F. Juneau came up with the idea for the Jambalaya Festival and served as the first president of the Jambalaya Festival Association President.
District 59 State Representative Eddie J. Lambert of Ascension Parish practices law in Gonzales, as does State Senator Jody Amedee, who represents Ascension, Livingston, St. James, and St. John the Baptist parishes. Lambert in 2004 succeeded former Representative Juba Diez, who had held the position since 1976.
Early settlers of the area which would eventually become Gonzales were, for the most part, of Spanish and French ancestry, settling amidst the Houma Indians who lived in the area. By 1851, the small settlement had only ten residents. A school was established in 1855 by Adlard Gautreaux for the children in the area. By 1886, the settlement had grown, and the citizens of the community elected "Big" José Gonzáles as their sheriff. Joseph's son, "Tee-Joe" Gonzales, opened a general store and post office in May 1887. The post office was known as the Gonzales Post Office. A few years later the Railroad Commission ordered the local railroad to change the name of the community from Edenborn to Gonzales to match the post office name.
The center of Gonzales, known as Chips Grocery, came into being in the late 1970s. The previous center was known as the "Fish N Pic".
The railroad assisted in the growth of Gonzales. When the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company (LR&N) constructed its rail line through the area, there was already a local post office named Gonzales. The rail company executives wanted to name their station there Edenborn after the company's owner, Willam Edenborn. The company also wanted to move the station north of the area to New River, then called Belle Hellene. After local residents filed protests with the Louisiana Railroad Commission, the railroad company was ordered to leave the station at Gonzales. The LR&N still tried to change the name to Edenborn. The residents continued to protest, and were able to get the Louisiana Legislature to pass a law requiring railroad companies to name their railroad stations the same name as that carried by the local post office. Gonzales was laid out and subdivided 1906. It was officially incorporated as a village in 1922 by then Louisiana Governor John Parker with Joseph Gonzales becoming the first mayor. The village continued to grow with the construction of Airline Highway, and Earl K. Long proclaimed Gonzales a town in 1952 during his term as governor. The first Jambalaya Festival was held in 1968, and Governor John J. McKeithen marked the occasion by proclaiming Gonzales the "Jambalaya Capital of the World." Following the growth of industrial corporations in the area, the town finally became a city in 1977 following a proclamation by Governor Edwin Edwards. Gonzales became better known in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck. The HSUS and other animal rescue groups along with the National Guard made a fairground in Gonzales their main search and rescue headquarters, as well as the location of storing pets picked up from New Orleans and many other locations. Some people were reunited with their lost pets at this same location.