Cancellations dampen hopes for festival season

Meredith Abdelnour, Arcade Editor

Jazz Fest Crowd in 2014. Courtesy of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival & Foundation, Inc.

Festival season, usually a time for joy, live music and large crowds, has been postponed once again. After the pandemic shut down the world in the spring of 2020, many festivals were rescheduled and canceled again as COVID-19 raged across the nation. 

This fall, however, seemed like it would be different. In June, with vaccines readily available and COVID-19 numbers dropping, many festivals were optimistic that they would be able to safely run in the fall. Unfortunately, with many Americans still unvaccinated and the easily transmissible delta variant, cases have risen drastically in recent months, leading Mayor LaToya Cantrell to reinstate the mask mandate and require proof of vaccination for indoor activities. In light of this, it’s no surprise that festivals have been postponed yet again. 

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, one of the largest in the city, announced its cancellation on Aug. 8. “Everything played into it: safety, reality, finances,” Jazz Fest Producer Quint Davis said of the decision. Although Davis is confident that the decision was the right one, he mourns the loss of this year’s festival. “We all feel pretty devastated,” Quint told nola.com. 

French Quarter Festival was canceled on Aug. 13, while Beignet Fest announced its cancellation on Aug. 17. The Buku Project, another popular New Orleans music festival that appealed to younger audiences, was one of the last to follow suit on Aug. 20. 

“As you’ve probably seen, Louisiana is getting rocked by COVID again,” reads the statement from The Buku Project. “We’ve spent the last couple weeks trying to hang on, but don’t see a guaranteed path forward under the current & projected public health conditions.”

Despite the disappointment of these cancellations, all of the festivals are now planning their return in 2022. “We will be back in no time and it will be awesome,” Buku said. “In the meantime, stay safe, get vaccinated, and we will see you next year.”