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Musicians and tourism leaders disappointed following Jazz Fest cancellation

Published: Aug. 8, 2021 at 10:15 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 8, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -The Lakefront was Kinfolk Brass Band’s John Perkins’s first practice stage before he played stages all around the world. “I think the band has played jazz fest every year since its inception,” said Perkins.

With organizers canceling Jazz Fest for the second time citing rising COVID-19 cases, it will be another year without the music and cultural celebration and empty stages.

“It wasn’t really out of left field for me but the biggest thing is it’s another year we won’t be doing what’s normal to us. It’s kind of hard on us especially just from the love standpoint we love to play music,” said Perkins.

This is also yet another financial hit for musicians looking forward to the huge festival, though Perkins says that’s not what he’ll miss most.

“Just seeing the faces of all the masses when they’re happy from the feeling that the music gives them,” said Perkins.

Without the thousands of people from across the country coming here for Jazz Fest, tourism leaders say it’s akin to losing an event like the Super Bowl.

“This is an economic loss but again we’re going to move forward we are going to continue to the recovery of our tourism industry,” said Kelly Schultz.

Kelly Schultz with New Orleans and Company explained Jazz Fest would sell out hotel rooms across the city, and with more events scheduled for the fall, New Orleanians should see this cancellation as a serious warning.

“Jazz Fest being canceled is a giant wakeup call we’ve got to get more people vaccinated, so this is disappointing it is a setback but we’re going to continue to move forward and do everything we can to drive this community and help all those culture bears and make up our community and our way of life,” said Schultz.

Perkins says the pandemic has made for some resilient musicians, but he says they’re tired of looking forward to the future.

“If we have to get the vaccine if we have to stay inside and not do as much as we are used to doing we have to take whatever approach we can in order to make sure we slow down the curve and eradicated like let’s get it out of here, I’m tired of it,” said Perkins.

Jazz Fest coordinators say ticket holders for both festival weekends will get an email about the ticket refund and rollover process.

All October 13 tickets they say will be automatically refunded.

In a statement-- a city spokesperson says: “Appropriate but really disappointing. We believe that the Jazz Fest organizers made the right call, heartbreaking though it is. The Delta variant has created an extremely dangerous environment— threatening the lives of our children and vulnerable populations, and threatening our hopes for an economic recovery. The need is all the more urgent for everyone to get vaccinated, and for everyone to mask up. No decisions have been made with regard to additional restrictions for Saints’ home games at this time. The mask mandate remains in effect Citywide.”

Next year’s Jazz Fest is scheduled for April 29 - May 8.

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