Friday, April 17, 2009

French Quarter Fest

The French Quarter Fest is in full swing with an estimated 450,000 guests streaming into the Vieux Carre to experience live music, to witness lots of crazy partying and to sample many delicious offerings throughout the three-day event. The smells of the French Quarter are not what one usually writes about. However, the air of sweet success permeates the area this weekend with well over $140 million in sales generated and approximately 10 percent of that going into city coiffers. It seems ironic that the Jazz and Heritage Festival celebrating its 40th anniversary this year gets all of the press, because the French Quarter Festival with its paltry three days outpolls the Jazz Fest by nearly one-third. By contrast, Jazz Fest occupies a week of performances at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. French Quarter Fest is free to the public, while Jazz Fest tickets are usually about $40 with parking, food, drinks, and souvenirs all extra. A typical couple will spend a minimum of $100 at the Jazz Fest, but more realistically will spend closer to $140. That's a lot of money compared to the free French Quarter Festival. Frankly, there's a lot to be said about enjoying and exploring the oldest section of the city. The only thing that could be a damper on the festivities is the likelihood of rain. Oh, well, the French Quarter Festival has it over the Jazz Fest here too. If it rains, one just has to pop inside a shop or bar. If it rains at the Jazz Fest, prepare for mud and a new purchase of shoes.

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