With the most wonderful time of the year in full swing, festival season brings out the best in New Orleans. Day one of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival kicked off to perfect weather at the New Orleans Fair Grounds and Race Slots, with many eager annual festival-goers ready to begin their annual musical experience in the mud.
Here are the top five notable things of Jazz Fest day one, in no particular order:
1. The performers
The performers for day one were talented, entertaining and suitable to the easygoing feel of the weekday opener. Grace Potter rocked the Gentilly Stage with her killer vocals. Janelle Monae impressed the audience with her stage presence at the Congo Square Stage. Steely Dan ended the day on the Acura stage, with crowds of people and colorful flags extending as far as one could see. As the headliners rocked big crowds, smaller acts were feeling the love, too. At other stages, people danced to the salsa, raised their hands in the Gospel tent and swayed to Cajun country music.
2. Remembering The Purple One
Several Prince tributes were heard throughout the day to honor The Purple One as a musical influence, inspiration and legend. “Kiss” and “When Doves Cry” echoed throughout the Fair Grounds as performers and attendees remembered and celebrated the icon.
3. The attendees
Without the thousands of dedicated festival goers, Jazz Fest wouldn’t be possible. Many of the turnouts for the less-crowded first Friday were Jazz Fest diehards, veterans who have been coming to the festival for decades. These tried and true New Orleanians signify what Jazz Fest is all about and why the experience is so special. They are diverse and come from all walks of life. Everyone at the festival was in a good mood and happy to be there, giving the entire day a great vibe.
4. The food
The food at Jazz Fest is just another part of the experience. As the opening day of the festival, being welcomed back by the line of food booths was a sight for sore eyes. Louisiana cuisine extends into all areas of the festival. One doesn’t have to go far to find a booth selling some mouthwatering treat or drink. Some of the food is found exclusively at Jazz Fest, while others are festival favorites, such as the strawberry lemonade and crawfish bread. The options are endless, and while you can’t eat everything, getting to try is the best part.
5. Besides music and food
Jazz Fest has something for everyone. Around the Fair Grounds, one will find the Congo Square African Marketplace, the Louisiana Folklife village, the Louisiana Native Nations, CD and book tents, arts and crafts vendors, the Grandstand exhibits and the Belize Cultural Exchange Pavilion. In between acts, attendees can explore everything the festival has to offer. This is the “heritage” part of the festival, because it’s so much more than the music. While the weekend days are for appreciating big names, one has a chance to see the lesser-known side of Jazz Fest on the first day.