Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April means festivals

A young festival goer in New Orleans

There is something magical about New Orleans in springtime. The azaleas are in full bloom with dazzling displays of purple, white, pink and red against a sea of green. By mid-March and April the air is typically fed by high pressure cells and the relative humidity plunges downward, making for several very pleasant, temperate days. Occasionally, violent thunderstorms will emerge as low pressure cells from the Gulf of Mexico clash with them, but those days are few in number. With the onset of this mostly pleasant weather comes the opportunities for outdoor fun and exploration. It doesn't take a genius to know that spring is here and the time for festivals abounds as much as those blooming azaleas. The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival at the end of March kept a number of the literati busy discussing what is the centennial of the birth of one of America's most famous playwrights. Several attendees caught the last of the Historic New Orleans Collections display "Drawn to Life,"a half century of Al Hirschfeld's drawings dealing with Tennessee Williams plays. It closed April 3. While that was intended to keep most folks indoors, the Freret Street Festival last Saturday was just the first of several small festivals intended to boost one neighborhood or specific food group or item. Tomorrow the French Quarter Festival begins for the first time on a Thursday; it has become so successful that a fourth day of fun was added this year. Last year an estimated 400,000 locals and tourists swamped the French Quarter, enjoying food, the unique architecture and a plethora of stages with live music acts. Meanwhile, the folks in Pontchatoula will be hosting their annual Strawberry Festival this weekend as well. For those that make the drive to the country there are several musical acts of note and countless ways to enjoy the noble aggregate fruit. The succession of festivals will continue. By the time the month starts to ebb, the granddaddy of them all - Jazz Fest (the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival) - will be in full swing. Ah yes, it's definitely springtime in New Orleans. I can hear, see, smell and taste it all.

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