METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Family Gras organizers credit this weekend's beautiful weather with helping the annual fest shatter every previous sales and attendance record. It's proof the free festival is growing at a rapid pace.
Sunday afternoon with the sun beating down, and temperatures more reminiscent of April or May, thousands took in the sights and sounds of Jefferson Parish's largest carnival party.
"We're big music lovers and they do a great job for the family out here," said Jeanette Kalifeh.
It's been years since the weather cooperated with each day of the three-day-long fest. Producer Greg Buisson says, "We know we're breaking every record this year, absolutely, no question there."
Jefferson Parish business owner Tone Lowe counts on this event every year to make big sales. This year, she wasn't disappointed.
"It's been the best Family Gras we've ever done. We've done it for the past four or five years and this has been terrific," Lowe said.
While talking to her customers, Lowe learned some come from as far away as Texas and California for the free event.
Sunday is dubbed "country day" headlined by performances from Easton Corbin, and LeAnne Rimes. For aspiring country singer Juliette Kalifeh this festival is about so much more than having a good time with family and friends.
"It's definitely inspiring to see all these local artists come here and then they pop off and get so big. Makes me want to work harder," Kalifeh said.
In the eight years it's been around Family Gras has grown immensely. Originally, the mission was to draw new people to Metairie, and to help Jefferson Parish hotels fill rooms the weekend before Mardi Gras.
Convention and Visitors Bureau President Violet Peters says the fest not only accomplished that, it's actually helping other areas as well. "When we get a visitor that comes to Jefferson, most of them will spend some dollars in New Orleans as well so it's really great for the whole region," Peters explained.
Organizers say there's not much they would change about Family Gras for next year. The only issue they have, how to handle growing crowds of this wildly popular event.
While they're still tallying the numbers, organizers say there were at least 15,000 people attending Sunday alone.