Essence ends as city prepares to put on big July 4 show

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Big name entertainers brought to town by the Essence Festival have left the stage overnight and many of the thousands of people who came to town for the event are heading home.

"Thought the festival was really nice this year, a lot of great acts, a lot of great talks at the empowerment summit, let's you get close to the stars and to the people who are making a difference," said Tyresiah Toombs, of Arkansas.

Time Inc., under which Essence Communications falls announced that more than 470,000 people experienced this year's Essence Music and Empowerment Festival which includes at the Superdome and myriad activities including empowerment seminars at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

"It was a great Essence Fest weekend, I was in the quarter yesterday and Saturday, it was packed, we were at 94-percent occupancy over the weekend and then Fourth of July is coming up tomorrow so we expect more crowds in the French Quarter and downtown," said Kristian Sonnier, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureay.

While Essence Fest visitors flooded the city they are not the only tourists who decided to make the Big Easy their destination for the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.

"We are taking a family trip for my dad's retirement after 45 years," said Jenny Bassler.

She and her family are from St. Louis and it is her father's first time in the city.

"We went around to Bourbon Street area, that was pretty exciting, too," said Jim Westphal.

Another family from Pennsylvania waited for a tour bus outside the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We travel to different time shares, different weeks of different places across the United States and we just decided that New Orleans was a place we could visit after everyone was 21 years old," Cathy Harmon stated.

The city's culture serves up plenty of entertainment and along the riverfront there will be big doings on the Fourth of July.

"It's a great family-friendly event, now we have Crescent Park, so there's a brand new, long, linear park along the river with great vantage points to see the dueling barges and the fireworks display which will begin at nine…They're going to have music on Crescent Park that starts at five, the fire boat will be doing its water display about six," added Sonnier.

For more on this year's Essence Festival visit,

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