blake nola Louisiana is a state where we live for festivals. There are very few cities, towns and even communities that don’t host a festival or two.  Where did our “joy de vieve” come from?  Whether it was handed down from Cajun, Creole or one of the numerous other bloodlines that created our heritage, it flows through all our Louisiana veins.  We love a party and we can’t have one of those without lots of food and music.  And don’t worry, if we don’t have an excuse, we make something up!

May is a huge festival month in the Bayou State.  At last count forty-six festivals were scheduled.  What did I tell you?  Any excuse.  April also boasts some of its own, including the World renowned Jazz and Heritage Festival at the New Orleans Fairgrounds.  Being held a few weeks before the first weekend of Jazz Fest is what you might call the opening act, the French Quarter Festival.

Louisiana’s largest free musical extravaganza is the award winning French Quarter Festival.  Did you catch the word “free”?  It is a jumping, bumping three day roller coaster ride of food, fun and music, lots of music.  The festival is held in the New Orleans historic French Quarter or “Vieux Carre’” neighborhood.  The festival dates for 2012 are April 12-15. sunday_french_quarter_fest_2009_20090420_2010321336

Performances are held on 18 outdoor stages scattered throughout the Quarter.  This musical showcase includes every genre.  From gospel to jazz, funk to classical, brass band, and particular favorites, Cajun and Zydeco, all styles are present.  Stages are set up at Jackson Square, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Bourbon Street, Royal Street, the French Market Performance Pavilion and the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint.

The festival schedules only local musicians since it is a dedication to the local music community.  The French Quarter Festival is made possible by the Musicians Mutual Protective Union Local No. 174-496, the Music Performance Trust Fund and over fifty entertainment sponsors.

Another feature of the festival is the “World’s Largest Jazz Brunch”.  Food booths operated by nearly sixty local chefs and restaurants are located throughout Jackson Square, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint.  Of course there is a cost for food, but who wouldn’t pay for some of the finest eating anywhere.  Stuff yourself with mouthwatering food, wrap yourself in the incredible music and soak in the historic beauty of the New Orleans French Quarter.  What better way to spend a weekend!

by Sharon Denise Talbot