French Quarter Festival to capture city’s culture in country’s largest showcase of Louisiana music

French Quarter Fest is the largest free festival in the South.

Emily Meyer | Arcade Layout Editor

French Quarter Fest is the largest free festival in the South.

Thursday through Sunday, French Quarter Festivals, Inc. will be holding its 35th French Quarter Festival. More than just a free way to have fun off campus and get your boogie on, French Quarter Fest prides itself in being the largest showcase of Louisiana music on the planet, and also contributes to the New Orleans economy.

With sponsors ranging from Chevron to Jack Daniel’s to Hilton, the nationally-recognized festival is one of the largest free music festivals in the South.

The massive festival is run by 1,500 community volunteers and has more than 20 stages throughout the French Quarter, featuring all kinds of music — brass, funk, jazz, R&B, folk, gospel, Latin, zydeco, classical and cabaret.

According to Emily Madero, CEO and president of French Quarter Festivals, Inc., the legendary music is what sets this festival apart from others in the South. Only Louisiana music is featured, with legendary performances from artists like Ellis Marsalis and the Danger Dangers. More than 1,700 musicians will be performing.

“Ernie K-Doe famously once said ‘I’m not sure, but I’m almost positive, that all music came from New Orleans,'” Madero said. “While that’s debatable, our influence goes back centuries, and that rich diversity is showcased at French Quarter Festival.”

The festival’s 20 stages and numerous booths are located throughout the French Quarter. Attending is more than just a walk through a park, it’s a full-on French Quarter tour, all for free.

In addition to great music, people are often drawn to New Orleans for the great food, and the French Quarter Fest makes sure each year to have a fine culinary spread. The lineup of food features 60 of New Orleans’ best restaurants.

“The festival makes even five-star dining accessible to anyone,” Madero said. “You can try an appetizer from Galatoire’s, an entrée from Restaurant R’evolution and the dessert from Antoine’s — their famous Baked Alaska with Chocolate Sauce is to die for — all for under $20.”

For students seeking healthier food options, the team did not miss a beat. Options in the culinary lineup include Eat Fit NOLA-approved dishes, such as avocado toast from The Daily Beet.

According to sophomore Rebekah Oviatt, the sno-balls were her favorite part of last year’s festival. Though crowded with tourists and locals alike, Oviatt said she would still recommend the fest to a fellow Tulane student.

“The event as a whole was very crowded and seemed very tourist-heavy to me, but I would still recommend it to Tulane students, because there’s still great food and great music,” Oviatt said.

In addition to providing the community with a fun weekend and showcasing New Orleans culture, the festival was also originally created to be of economic support to the community. It continues to do so today, generating over $196 million in economic impact for the state over the four-day period. According to Madero, data from the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center estimates that the French Quarter Festival creates or supports over 2,200 jobs.

“A key part of our mission is to produce high-quality events that showcase the culture and heritage of our unique city, contribute to the economic well-being of the community and instill increased pride in the people of New Orleans,” Madero said.

For the celebration of the 35th festival and New Orleans’ 300th year of existence, there will be added activities that you won’t want to miss — including the NOLA Media 300 for 300 exhibit at the Tricentennial Homecoming Pavilion, an interactive mobile film studio and fireworks over the Mississippi River on Saturday night.

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