Bayou Boogaloo fence divides festival lovers

Some are furious at new addition to Bayou Boogaloo Fest

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A festival that has become more popular every year is drawing fierce backlash over a temporary fence.

"I don't like changing how it looks aesthetically, but it's not about keeping people out at all. We want everyone to come," Bayou Boogaloo founder Jared Zeller said.

The festival has popped up along Bayou St. John for about a decade, and the fence allows organizers to keep the festival free to the public, according to Zeller. It runs roughly 150 yards from the beginning of the bayou to Orleans Avenue. There will be an access gate where boats and rafts can launch from that side of the water, but attendees will not be allowed to congregate on that section of land.

"We really try to deal with some litter issues we've had in the past and also some unsafe practices. People barbecuing on that side of the bayou and kind of having their own party and really creating kind of a nuisance," Zeller said.

But the addition was not welcomed by many who plan on attending the festival.

"I just feel like it's unfair and it's unsightly," resident Trishell Joffrion said.

"I'm a little stunned," resident Eric Hartman said. "It seems to be a bit more restrictive than it used to be."

"I don't see how it's going to keep litter out. People are still going to litter. I don't like litter, but I don't think that wall is going to keep litter out," resident Elise Rome said.

But some residents agree with Zeller.

"The crowds get so heavy that the people fall into the street so it becomes a hazard for traffic," resident Jane Bartlett said.

Zeller pointed out the festival's neighborhood-friendly atmosphere that provides parking and allows people to ride on the Lafitte Greenway to get to the bayou.

"It's almost a half-a-million-dollar event, and it's predominantly financed through food and beverage sales," Zeller said. "Sixty percent of our revenue comes from food and beverage. It's huge. We have 30 food and beverage vendors. We need people to support those guys because they take risks."

Some still feel the fence makes many feel unwelcome and want the fence taken down.

"I don't want anybody getting mad, getting angry, throwing things or messing up equipment or anything. I just want them to see that we really care," Joffrion said.

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