French Quarter Festival expects big crowds for 40th anniversary

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 3:41 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2023 at 9:17 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (Verite News) - Just two weeks before the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, thousands will gather at the riverfront for the 40th anniversary of the French Quarter Festival.

The free four-day event is held Thursday (Apr.13) through Sunday (Apr.16) and will feature more than 200 performances from jazz to folk to gospel music. The festival will have more than 60 culinary food vendors including Cajun and Ethiopian cuisines.

“It’s a big block party with your neighbors and friends,” said Emily Madero, president and CEO of French Quarter Festivals, Inc., the nonprofit group that runs the festival. “We’re creating special moments and high quality events that people can enjoy that are inclusive, welcoming and representative of our incredible music scene and food.”

The French Quarter Festival began in 1984 as an “effort to bring local people back to support those businesses, the restaurants and shops in the French Quarter,” Madero said.

The festival is now an annual tradition that locals look forward to and brings economic opportunities to the city. And the money spent to produce the festival stays within the local economy, Madero said. Part of her group’s mission is to support New Orleans’ cultural economy, culture bearers and local musicians that make the city what it is today.

Every year, the festival employs 1,700 musicians, and more than 1,500 volunteers help make the festival a success.

There will be more than 20 stages of performances throughout the French Quarter from the foot of Canal Street down to Esplanade Avenue, and on Royal and Bourbon Streets.

Tank and the Bangas is scheduled to perform on Sunday, bringing its unique brand of funk and soul music..

“I’m glad to be able to bring that home,” said Joshua Johnson, musical director and drummer for the group Tank and the Bangas. “I’m excited for us to be able to contribute to something that has become a very huge part of our city.”

The festival has had a difficult few years due to the pandemic. It had to be canceled in 2020 and 2021. Though it came back last year, attendance was significantly lower than normal. But organizers are expecting numbers to rebound this year, estimating that 200,000 people will attend the four-day festival.

It’s more than just food and music, said Morgan Valerie, marketing and communications director for the French Quarter Festival. There will be other activities and programming for the entire family.

There will be a 40th anniversary hub, where festivalgoers can take photos behind a 12-foot arch, with an interactive background.

On Saturday and Sunday, there will be a STEM Zone station where children can learn how to build robots and marshmallow catapults.

The French Quarter Festival festivities kicked off with an opening day parade at 10 a.m on Thursday morning, starting at the 200 block of Bourbon Street and ending in Jackson Square. The parade will feature music from Black Magic Drumline and TBC Brass Band.

“We just are really looking forward to everybody enjoying themselves and having a safe and joyous four days of music,” Madero said.

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