After days of concerts & seminars, Essence Fest-goers begin heading home

Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 5:59 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - While some Essence Festival-goers remain in town for the 4th of July celebration many others began heading home. And people who make their living shuttling passengers say the multi-day festival provided a huge boost to their business.

Louis Armstrong International Airport was busy as thousands of people who attended the Essence Festival took flights out of the city.

There was also lots of activity outside of downtown hotels as people who were in town for the festival waited for taxis and rides from Uber and Lyft drivers.

Many like Tomeeka Martin of the Midwest savored the fun they experienced during the festival.

“Just the camaraderie, being around a bunch of black people enjoying our culture and the community, I think that’s what makes Essence special,” said Martin.

Tamika McClellan is also from Illinois.

“This is my seventh Essence,” said McClellan.

“It felt good, I was happy to be back in New Orleans, I hadn’t been down here in about three years, so it was definitely good to be back down here,” added McClellan.

Jay Johnson and his friend who identified himself only as “Showtime” have attended the festival for years.

“The people, the entertainment, the fun, the activities, it’s just the whole ambiance, everything that’s going around that keeps us coming back,” said Johnson.

“Fourth of July weekend, if y’all are not in New Orleans for Essence Fest, shame on you,” said Showtime.

For some, the daytime activities at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center are just as popular as the nighttime concerts at the Caesar’s Superdome. “It’s just so educational with the convention center too, so it keeps us coming back every year. This is my 14th year,” Showtime said.

This year’s festival was the first in-person Essence Fest since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Solimn Yasser is a taxi driver.

“Yeah, we’re getting business, we’re having good business with the Essence, usually we are very busy with the Essence Festival, so we got the business back,” said Yasser.

An Uber driver who said his name is Anthwan also was thrilled to be so busy.

“The Essence [Festival], exactly, definitely the Essence, just going back and forth, dropping people off at restaurants, the convention center, and airports, definitely the Essence,” he said.

Mayor Latoya Cantrell issued the following statement on July 4, 2022, related to the Essence Festival.

“Black joy spread to all corners of our city this weekend. The positivity and uplifting spirit that thousands of black women bought to our city produced a positive, safe and successful Essence Festival weekend. “On behalf of the City of New Orleans, I would like to thank our Essence family for leading the way and once again shining a light on black women excellence. And thank you to all of the performers, producers, artists, small business owners, sponsors, and our global audience of black women for a transformative weekend of culture and love. See you next year!”

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