2016 French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron Festival by the Numbers Record-breaking crowds from across the globe enjoyed the largest showcase of Louisiana food and music in the world
French Quarter Festivals, Inc. proudly releases numbers for the 33rd annual French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron. This year’s attendance figures indicate that over 760,000 festival-goers enjoyed the music, food, special events, and of course, the historic French Quarter. The record-breaking numbers mark a significant increase over 2015, when several days of rain reduced attendance to 386,000. Executive Director Marci Schramm reflected, “2016 French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron was one for the record books: amazing crowds, including so many locals and families; perfect weather; the best music and food in the world – everyone came out and just had a really good time! Our French Quarter neighborhood and our beautiful City have never looked better.”
Festival vendors also reported increases. Rouses had record sales at French Quarter Festival 2016, selling over 50,000 pounds of boiled crawfish. Beverage sales were also up: Abita served 675 kegs and 1,400 cases of beer, New Orleans Original Daiquiris sold over 42,000 daiquiris, and 690 gallons of Lynchburg Lemonade and Herradura Margaritas were enjoyed by French Quarter Festival fans. Over 128 tons of ice were used in festival beverages including Pat O’Brien’s, Tropical Isle, Abita, Jack Daniel’s, Plum Street SnoBalls. Haydel’s Bakery used over 200 pounds of white chocolate in their White Chocolate King Cake Bread Pudding.
The 2016 French Quarter Festival featured iPhone and Android phone apps, created by festival sponsor GE Digital, which were available free of charge. This year saw an increase in the number of users, bringing thetotal to over 70,000 App fans since its 2010 inception. In partnership with New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and Solomon Group, the Festival launched a Social Media Lounge to provide new ways for fans to engage with the event.
The award-winning festival, which began in 1984, was created by then Mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial, who appointed a group of visionaries who designed the festival as a way to bring people back to the historic French Quarter following lengthy construction prior to the World’s Fair. It has grown to become the largest showcase of Louisiana food and music in the world. Twenty-three music stages throughout the French Quarter presented the best in New Orleans music, representing every genre from traditional and contemporary jazz to R & B and New Orleans funk, brass bands, folk, gospel, classical, cabaret, opera, Cajun, Zydeco, world music, international, as well as a musical stage for children. Nearly 100 food and beverage booths located in Jackson Square, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Decatur Street, Spanish Plaza, and the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint made up the “World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,” a signature event featuring authentic local cuisine from renowned area restaurants, many of whom have been with the Festival throughout its entire 33-year history.
French Quarter Festival relies on strong community support to present the ‘kickoff to festival season in New Orleans’ – with nearly 1,500 volunteers, 300 musical acts, numerous generous sponsors – including the New Orleans Musicians Union AFM Local 174-496, businesses from all over the country who sponsor musical acts at festival, New Orleans Police and Fire Departments, EMS, permitting assistance from the City of New Orleans and partnerships with Parks and Parkways, Audubon Institute, and the Louisiana State Museum, among others. New sponsors included Chevrolet, Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, Crimestoppers, Moxy New Orleans, Smokefree NOLA, Solomon Group, Snickers Crispers, State Farm, and Whitney Bank.
Festivalgoers attended a variety of free special events throughout the weekend, including 24 musical debuts,Whitney Bank Film Fest at French Quarter Festival, produced in partnership with Timecode: NOLA and Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré, a symposium at the Old U.S. Mint, ‘Let them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Music’; free dance lessons; two children’s areas – including the Chevron STEAM Zone– with music and activities; a Pirate’s Alley Juried Art Show; Battle of the Bands; Sunday’s ‘Dancing at Dusk,’ which filled the 400 block of Royal Street and beyond with dancers. In addition, organizers cite the incredible four days of perfect weather as a contributing factor to the success.
Over 500 guests, including Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Councilmembers Jason Williams and Jared Brossett, and Chevron top executive Mike Illanne attended the festival’s sold-out Opening Night Gala at Antoine’s Restaurant on April 7. Musical performances included Carl LeBlanc, John Rankin, the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, and special guests Jean Knight, the Dixie Cups, Fred LeBlanc, Big Sam, and Robin Barnes. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Roots of Music and Jackson Square improvements and beautification.
French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron is produced by French Quarter Festivals, Inc., (FQFI) the 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, which also produces Satchmo SummerFest presented by Chevron in August and Christmas New Orleans Style in December. For more information about any of these events, call (504) 522-5730 or visit www.fqfi.org.
Buckwheat Zydeco on the Abita Beer Stage – 2016 French Quarter Festival- photo by Zack Smith