Essence Fest brings in annual boost in business

The city expects more than 400,000 people to come through New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival this weekend.

The festival is what Jessica Dandridge with Palmer's Cuisine calls a family tradition.

"I've been doing Essence since I was thirteen," said Dandridge. "It's my family thing. They've been doing Essence as long as I can remember." Dandridge says Palmer's caters at a number of festivals throughout the year, but few can top Essence.

"It ranks top three for us," said Dandridge. "We know we can always depend on it. It makes the money, it gets it in." Dandridge credit this year's good weather and prime line-up with what she things will be a "great turnout".

The city says last year's festival brought in half a million visitors and more than $200 million dollars for New Orleans. In a press conference Friday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu says he expects more than 400,000 people in town for the three day festival.

Essence also is bringing in new vendors. Tyson Nguyen owns Cajun Seafood. The restaurant has been around for 20 years, but this year they decided to expand and work Essence.

"Turnout is awesome," said Nguyen. "Everything is going great."

Business outside the Convention Center should see a boost in business as well. The Marriott down the street says their rooms always sell out early.

From fine art to food, vendors say the festival is yet another opportunity to share what the city is all about.

"We always prepare long and hard for Essence festival," says Dandridge. "It always brings us a lot of joy to work with tourists, just making a lot of food and getting it out there."

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