NEW ORLEANS – April 17, 18 and 19, 2009, marked the 26th anniversary and a record year for French Quarter Festival. This year’s attendance figures indicate that more than 441,000* festival-goers enjoyed the music, food, special events and of course, the historic French Quarter. Visitors and locals alike enjoyed a unique weekend that only New Orleans can deliver.
This award-winning festival, which began in 1984, has grown to become the largest free music festival in the South. Seventeen stages throughout the French Quarter presented the best in New Orleans music, representing every genre from traditional and contemporary jazz to R & B and New Orleans funk, brass bands, folk, gospel, classical, opera, Cajun Zydeco, Latin World, International, as well as musical stages for children. Over 90 food and beverage booths located in Jackson Square, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint made up the “World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,” a signature event, featuring authentic local cuisine from renowned area restaurants, many of whom have been with the Festival its entire 26 years. Record sales were recorded by both food and beverage vendors.
While planning the 2009 festival, FQFI officials reevaluated the festival’s footprint and made changes to allow for better crowd flow and enjoyment. Executive Director Marci Schramm noted, “From what we observed and heard in the days following the festival, the changes proved successful.” She also noted that French Quarter Festivals, Inc. is continually working to make the event better for all attendees.
Festival-goers attended special events throughout the three-day weekend, including over 1,000 guests at the Thursday night kickoff party: ‘TGIF’ – Thank Goodness it’s Festival! – at Pat O’Briens. French Quarter Festival opened Friday with an official second-line parade, music starting at 11 a.m., historic courtyard tours, and a Pirate’s Alley Art Show. Saturday activities continued with the Acme World Championship Oyster Eating Contest, the International Music Colloquium, and Battle of the Bands. Sunday’s ‘Dancing at Dusk’ grew in popularity as dancers filled the 400 block of Royal Street and beyond.
French Quarter Festival 2009 was sponsored by Abita Brewing Company, Harrah’s Foundation, Southern Comfort, Fetzer, Music Performance Fund, New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, WWL TV-4, Rouses Market, Entergy Foundation, Coca-Cola, Whole Foods, Crystal Hot Sauce/Baumer Foods, nola.com, French Market Corporation, JazzAscona, OffBeat Magazine, Pat O’Briens, Hard Rock Cafe, CapitalOne Bank, Where Y’at Magazine, Community Coffee, Continental Airlines, Cox Business, Louisiana Lottery, Whitney Bank, Onsite Guardian, The Court of Two Sisters, Tulane Medical Center, Musical Legends Park, The Transportation Revolution – Vespa New Orleans, Acme Oyster House, neworleansrestaurants.com, WWL WWOZ 90.7FM, WWNO 89.9 FM, and Clear Channel Radio.
The event was produced by French Quarter Festivals, Inc., (FQFI) the 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, which also produces Satchmo SummerFest in August and Christmas New Orleans Style in December. For more information about any of these events, call (504) 522-5730 or visit www.fqfi.org.
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French Quarter Festival measures its success in many ways…
2008 – 435,000 people
2009 – 441,000 people
2009 – 748 kegs – a 5% increase over 2008 sales of Abita beer.
Final numbers not in yet, but Saturday afternoon it was reported that the number of product consumed was already at the level of entire festival sales for 2008.
Rouses Crawfish Boil:
In this first year event, 15,000-20,000 pounds of crawfish were boiled and consumed over three days during the ‘Rouses Crawfish Boil’ at the Old U.S. Mint.
2008 – 115,000 pounds of hot and crawfish sausage
2009 – 117,000 pounds of hot and crawfish sausage