Music isn't the only thing that draws people to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival each year. The astounding variety of food all in one spot is one of the biggest pluses for locals and visitors alike.
Do you have your own Jazz Fest food favorite? Did we miss something important? Let us know in the comments below.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival continues its 44th year of music today at the Fair Grounds. This morning a new music education center was dedicated to one of the festival’s founders, George Wein, and his wife Joyce.
Helen Regis is a cultural anthropologist who has been studying the Jazz and Heritage Festival for 10 years. In some ways, she says, you can think of the Jazz Fest as a city.
“The people who build the festival every year — the construction crew, the electricians — feel like they’re building a city. They do. It’s this physical infrastructure. It has lights. It has plumbing. Sort of.” Regis says, in some ways, it’s kind of a fantasy city. "In some ways it looks like New Orleans, but it’s not."
With nearly 70 food vendors and over 200 dishes, Jazz Fest isn’t simply a music destination, it’s a foodie paradise. But that makes vendor selection and organization an arduous task.
Fortunately, just the right woman is leading the process. Michelle Nugent has been the Jazz Fest Food Director since 1999 and has a culinary résumé befitting a world-class chef. She spent 17 years working with chef Susan Spicer, first as an apprentice, then as Bayona’s sous chef, and finally as the executive chef at Spice Inc.
The Show “One Mo’ Time” went from humble beginnings as a homemade New Orleans labor of love with a single scheduled performance to a worldwide theatrical sensation that ran for years. Its creator, New Orleans actor Vernel Bagneris, has loved the idea of putting on a show from way back.
“Cousins of mine still laugh at the fact that they used to come over and I’d put on a show for them and play a little accordion and single a little bit with the few chords I knew on a piano and do plays and make them all do parts,” Bagneris remembers.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a seven-day music, food and crafts extravaganza that is one of the biggest draws in a city known for big events — but outdoor festivals can be difficult for anyone to navigate, let alone for people with disabilities.
The second weekend of Jazz Fest kicked off to a soggy start today with festival goers donning ponchos and rain boots. In the spirit of locals’ day, I spoke to a festival veteran who has weathered his fair share of Jazz Fest storms. Chuck Blamphin began working as a stage manager 40 years ago and currently oversees the Fais Do Do stage. Needless to say, he has seen the festival undergo some significant changes throughout his storied tenure.
Ground crews poured sand around the festival lawns and walkways this morning.
The Fair Grounds were already muddy even before the rain started around noon.
Thursday is known as locals' day, and veteran festival goers had ponchos, umbrellas and rain boots ready to go.
WWNO’s Poppy Tooker, host of Louisiana Eats!, was at the Food and Heritage stage, cooking gumbo for one of the day’s demonstrations. The kitchen is at the far end of the Grandstands, the inside portion of the festival.