Jazz fest is a 10-day festival filled with music, food, crafts and culture. There are more than 10 stages featuring different bands and artists at any given moment. There are what seems like hundreds of little stands selling jewelry, crafts and food. Men pull around coolers of beer for sale ensuring everyone is properly enjoying themselves. And of course, all the while there are parades that pop up every few hours. Pretty much, it’s New Orleans in a nutshell.
The first bands kick off around 11 a.m. and you can enjoy pretty much non-stop music until 7 p.m. Tickets are sold as day passes and you purchase by weekend. We had all purchased day passes for weekend one and chose Saturday because it was just plain convenient and Billy Joel was playing. Win, win.
Naturally we went out Friday night so we didn’t even head out until around noon. The weather was exceptionally nice and warm so we wore as little as possible. One of my first experiences after moving to New Orleans was getting stopped by a man on the street who proceeded to warn me not to wander in certain directions if I wanted to stay alive to see the end of the day. I curiously asked how he knew I was from out of town and he replied that we were wearing too much… This sounded strange at the time but after a few
warm hot New Orleans days, dressing light becomes a habit. I completely understand what he meant now.
We grabbed a big lunch (and to go drinks) at Juan’s despite the fact that there is no shortage of food at the festival. What would a weekend without Juan’s be? Frozen mojitos in hand, we stomped, skipped, danced and sang one mile to the fairgrounds. Traffic and parking is mayhem around here so this made the most sense. There were shuttles and the streetcar but considering it is perfectly legal to carry big girl beverages outside, we see no reason not to walk places.
Our friends had already posted up at a spot near the Congo Square and Native American tent. The tipi made for a great landmark and this was pretty close to the two stages we wanted to frequent.
We wandered around for a bit and then watched Rebirth Brass Band at the Congo Square stage. The best bathrooms were indoor at the Grandstand but the trailers and portapotties weren’t the worst either. A lot of people posted up in front of their favorite stage with huge flagpoles so they wouldn’t lose their groups.
Hats seemed to be the way to go. They were for sale all over the fairgrounds and you could spot a dozen in any direction. Not to mention, my poor face needs all the protection against sunburn that it can get these days. I got mine in Naxos when I was traveling through Greece.
Billy Joel started at 5 p.m. and the Acura stage where he was playing got crowded very quickly. Luckily everyone is nice and it’s not a big deal when you have to push a little through the crowd to get a spot.
Allison with her newfangled iPhone 5 and me with my digital camera. Didn’t those go out about 5 years ago? I felt very outdated. We turned to take a picture of each other at the same exact time and this is what we got.
After an hour I switched to the Fais Do Do stage with Lynn so she could catch Andrew Bird. I instantly thought of the Little Mermaid (think Under the Sea) when I heard his music. She laughed but I stand by my opinion. Quite honestly if he did a cover of it, it’d probably be the best version.
We all met back at the home base. Maybe we were just lucky, but leaving our stuff unguarded was a nonissue. We left backpacks, hats, blankets, chairs and drinks. Nothing went missing. I think it’s just the atmosphere of jazz fest, everyone is there for a good time, but who knows.
It turned out to be to our advantage that we waited until the end to get food. We haggled and got plates on plates of food for $1-3 dollars each. I couldn’t have been a happier girl with my plate of spinach. I know, I’m weird. The more normal people (Maggie) got Jambalaya and chicken tacos. I freakin loved the Congo Square food. The veggie pita and jama-jama were my jam.
And I would expect nothing less from a New Orleans festival. The proceeds go directly back into the community. All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. Now if only they gave us a week off (like Mardi Gras break) so we could go every day. All I can say is…
The most. 😉