‘…In New Orleans Sittin’ on a Candy Stand’

Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival returns

Presented by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the 11th annual Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival will be Oct. 14-16 at Lafayette Square Park in the Central Business District. Miraculously, it is free and open to the public.

The three-day fest kicks off Friday night with two bands, the art market and the food vendors. Then Saturday ramps up to the two-stage setup for the remainder of the festival. There are 18 scheduled acts and likely to be some surprise performers joining them on stage, as happens most years in our music city.

One of the signature aspects of the location is that the park is literally a square nestled in among tall downtown buildings. The two stages — St. Charles and Camp Street — actually face each other. The shows are staggered so that one stage is empty while one is being used for a performance. This prevents the muddling of sound and allows attendees to circulate through the festival while “their” stage is empty, or bounce from one side to the other for non-stop music. On Saturday, watch people travel from Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen to Alvin Youngblood Hart & Muscle Theory then back again for
Taj Mahal.

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The food will be amazing. Specific vendors haven’t been listed at the time of publication, but previous years have offered brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, shrimp and sausage dishes. They have also added vegan and vegetarian options, as well as gluten-free items. I’ll be searching for pulled pork nachos, pork and grits, brisket and collard greens. And likely enjoying a cold Abita beer to accompany the meal.

The arts market is a special part of the festival and brings together incredibly talented craftspeople to sell their creations. There will be 24 local and regional artisans participating and their wares will include hand-crafted artworks, jewelry and home furnishings.

As the festival has grown over the past 10 years, so has its economic impact on local businesses and the tourism industry.

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“We know that about half of the people coming to the festival are from outside the greater New Orleans region, so they’re either driving in from out of town or flying — so they spend money in restaurants, hotels and so on,” said Scott Aiges, director of programs, marketing and communications for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. “For our food and craft vendors, we try hard to make sure that the fees we charge them are low, so that they can maximize their profit, and judging from how many vendors are trying to get into the festival, word has gotten around that this event is a money-maker for them. And that, to us, is success.”

A fact that can’t be stressed enough is that the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival is free to attend. As part of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s mission to “promote, preserve, and encourage” the culture of Louisiana, this specific music festival is one way the Foundation gives back to the community. Funded in part by the proceeds from their New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in the spring, as well as by vendor fees and donations, this fest is a gift to New Orleans and those who visit over the course of the weekend. It’s important to respect the rules of no outside food or drink (except for small children and those with dietary restrictions). There are also donation boxes near the park entrances and it would do your soul good to drop some cash in them if you can afford it.

The website provides details on rules, parking and the lineup, as well as a link to a new music player that previews this year’s performers. Find it at jazzandheritage.org/blues-fest.
 

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Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City.

 

 


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