April 9th-12th marked the 32nd annual French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron. This year’s attendance figures indicate that over 386,000* festival-goers enjoyed the music, food, special events, and historic French Quarter. Though hotel occupancy was at 98 percent, inclement weather impacted attendance, which hit a record 733,000 in 2014.
The 2015 French Quarter Festival featured iPhone and Android phone apps, which were available free of charge, courtesy of GE Capital. Nearly 8,700 iOS users downloaded the festival update from last year’s app, and 5,100 users installed the app for the first time. On the Android side, over 3,000 users downloaded the app. This adds up to over 60,000 Festival App users.
Rouses sold over 20,000 pounds of boiled crawfish, and Plum Street Snowballs went through 45,000pounds of sugar to make the syrups used in their ‘spirited’ and regular snowballs.
The award-winning French Quarter Festival, which began in 1984, has grown to become the largest free music festival in the United States. Twenty-three music stages throughout the area 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. Over 115 food and beverage booths located in Jackson Square, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Decatur Street, 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 32-year history.
To accommodate festival goers Friday through Sunday, the New Orleans Police Department closed down most streets of the French Quarter to traffic – ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for attendees, and title-sponsor Chevron provided free pedicabs. Fest-goers enjoyed dancing in the streets at the Popeyes Brass Band Jam located at the U.S. Mint, and the ever-popular Chevron Cajun/Zydeco Showcase located at the Bienville statue on North Peters St. Very few events in the City are afforded such a traffic closure. New Orleans Police provided strong support throughout the weekend, alongside Fess Inc., Security.
Festival goers attended a variety of free special events throughout the weekend, including Allen Toussaint’s first FQF appearance since 1998; the addition of two new stages, the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk with Harrah’s Stage and the Omni Royal Orleans Stage; the return of the Chevron Evening Concert Series; newly christened Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stage at the riverfront Pavilion; ‘Spirited Snowballs’ from Plum Street Snowballs with Bacardi, Chambord, Herradura Tequila or Southern Comfort Caramel; anexpanded Film Fest at French Quarter Festival done in partnership with Timecode: NOLA and Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré; a lecture series, ‘Let them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Music’; free dance lessons at two stages; two children’s areas, one featuring the Chevron STEAM Zone with learning activities by a host of partners including The Nature Conservancy , The Edible Schoolyard New Orleans and FirstLine Schools, Project Lead the Way, The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and Louisiana A+ Schools, Audubon Nature Institute, Tulane Pediatrics, New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, and New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (which also had a festival residency with performances all four days); a Pirate’s Alley Juried Art Show; Rouses World Championship Crawfish Eating Contest; a riverfront picnic area, the NOLA.com Eat Drink Café located on the riverfront Kohlmeyer Lawn; and Sunday’s ‘Dancing at Dusk.’
Over 450 guests attended the festival’s Opening Night Gala at Antoine’s on the first day of Festival. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Roots of Music, a local non-profit that empowers the youth of New Orleans through music education, academic support, and mentorship.
French Quarter Festival relies on strong community support to present the ‘kickoff to festival season in New Orleans’ – with over 2,000 volunteers, over 400 musical acts, numerous generous sponsors – including the New Orleans Musicians Union AFM Local 174-496, corporations from all over the state who sponsor musical acts at festival, New Orleans Police, EMS, permitting assistance from the City of New Orleans and partnerships with Parks and Parkways, Audubon Institute, and the Louisiana State Museum, among others. This year French Quarter Festival welcomed new sponsors Omni Royal Orleans Hotel (the Official Hotel of French Quarter Festival and Satchmo SummerFest), Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, Brown-Forman which includes great brands such as Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Herradura, Finlandia and Sonoma Cutrer, KREWE du optic, Cupcake Vineyards, Renaissance Publishing, Sazerac, JS108Atlanta.com Jazz Radio, WYLD 98.5, Power 102.9, Old School 106.7, NASH fm 92.3, The Ticket 106.1, and Zatarain’s.
The festival was also supported by a number of returning sponsors, including: Chevron, Capital One Bank, GE Capital, Tropical Isle, Abita Brewing Company, Steinway and Sons, Rouses, WWL-TV, NOLA.com/Times-Picayune, OffBeat Magazine, The Berger Company, BMI, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Clear Channel, Crystal Clear Imaging, DownBeat Magazine, Ford, French Market Corporation, Harrah’s New Orleans, Hermann Grima House, The Historic New Orleans Collection, House of Blues, Inthenola.com, I.T.S. Fire Alarm Security, LLC, Louisiana Cookin’, LA Lottery, Musician’s Performance Fund, New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, New Orleans Original Daiquiris, NOLA Defender, NOLA Jitterbugs, Pat O’Brien’s, Pelican Ice, Pepsi, Popeyes, Republic National Distributing, Rolland Lock and Safe, Tulane Medical Center, Tulane Pediatrics, The Vinyl District, Where Magazine, Where Y’at, Windsor Court Hotel, WWL-TV, WWNO 89.9 FM, WRNO 99.5, and Zapp’s Potato Chips.
French Quarter Festival is produced by French Quarter Festivals, Inc., (FQFI) the 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, which also produces Satchmo SummerFest 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.