A Day at the Fest: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2013

Jumpin JohnnyWhile the possibility of afternoon showers threatened last Saturday’s Jazz Fest celebration, the day turned out to be a hot but beautiful one—one full of breathtaking music, incredible food and all the friendly passersby you could meet wishing you a “Happy Fest!”

The walk up to the Fairgrounds from your parking spot  is one of the unspoken moments of fest fun. Together you join ample fellow walkers all streaming from different tree-lined blocks, some carrying chairs, others carrying beers in coozies and others carrying nothing but the bright, summery clothes on their backs.  You know that the excitement of Jazz Fest is in the air and all around you.

I always have to run to my favorite food first. Folks don’t realize that some of the food at the fest can only be found at the fest.  So not only are you anxious to see some good music, your taste buds are screaming  for Mango Sorbet,  Crawfish Strudel, Crawfish Monica …just to name a few of my favorites. And the strudel is as good as always!

Now that the belly is full it’s time to walk around and absorb  this amazing event. You have to just stop, look around and wonder “how in the world do they pull this off”.  Each year I am so thankful for the organizational skills of this incredible foundation, you have to give it to Quent Davis and crew for they do an amazing job. There are 13 stages  offering Blues, Gospel, Cajun, Jazz , Dixieland and of course the big stages that have become like a rock concert.  There are arts and craft areas bringing together artisans from all over the South and some still further.  And food….there is food everywhere and I promise you won’t find any hamburgers or hot dogs!  These are world class restaurant’s that are putting out amazing local dishes representative of New Orleans and its neighboring cultures.

So now I just wander about. I peek into the Gospel Tent  and catch songs of praise complete with energetic clapping and uproarious applause.  I move on to The Blues Tent which is was already filled to the brim with people as Lil Buck Sinegal’s Blues Bands crooned some laid back, boot-tapping tunes.  I hang around for a bit and than find Jason Marsalis  who has  packed Jazz Tent, people are lining the aisles Indian-style just to catch a piece of the action. Marsalis wailed on a set of vibraphones, absolutely stunning everyone in the audience.

Time to  head back over to the  Food Area ……music really does make you hungry!  Passing rows and rows of delectable menus with dishes averaging around $6 apiece, I decided to try something new and  eventually settled on Fried  Boudin Balls and a Fried Crab cake with Smoked Tomato and Jalapeno Tartar. The crab cake is now added to my favorites. Time for more music..

Even though  I prefer the smaller tents and stages I always do select one big headliner for the day and wiggle myself though the crowd and try to get as close as possible. Today I navigate the Acura stage to see one of my favorites, Allen Toussaint. Chairs and blankets and a plethora of crowds  are everywhere. Allen’s worth the effort though…….a quiet and gentle soul that has been around for a long time writing songs for everyone else to perform. You can trace his music back to the late 1950’s with hits like “Working in the Coalmine”,” Fortune Teller,” and ” Southern Nights”. Artists that have performed his songs range for country singer Glen Cambell to rocker Robert Palmer.

Before heading out I stop again at Congo Square along the way to dance to Rebirth Brass Band.

The sun is getting low, everyone is packing up there chairs…..been a great day and another wonderful jazz Fest experience.

So that’s what you do during a day at the fest……you just take it all in…. walk across the grounds to see your favorite artists while stopping for others along the way, eat  plenty of food , check out the vendors and browse the arts and crafts, run into people that you know and some you only see at fest time, get sunburn if the sun is brighter get wet and muddy  if it rains……..just take it all in!

We hope you can attend the upcoming second weekend of the fest  or even one in the future so that you can make your own similar memories!

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