NEW ORLEANS – April 11, 12, 13, 2008, marked the 25th anniversary and a record year for French Quarter Festival. This year’s attendance figures indicate that approximately 435,000* festival-goers basked in the sunshine, ate, drank, danced, shopped, stayed in the hotels, enjoyed the French Quarter, and became immersed in southern hospitality as 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. Eighteen 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 65 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 25 years. Record sales were recorded by both food and beverage vendors.
Festival-goers attended special events throughout the three-day weekend, including almost 1,000 guests at the Thursday night kickoff party: ‘TGIF’ – Thank Goodness it’s Festival! – aboard the Steamboat Natchez. 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 and a Battle of the Bands. Sunday’s ‘Dancing at Dusk’ grew in popularity as dancers filled the 400 block of Royal Street.
French Quarter Festival 2008 was sponsored by Abita Brewing Company, Harrah’s Foundation, Zatarain’s, Southern Comfort, Fetzer, iclips.net, Music Performance Fund, the State of Louisiana Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism, New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, WDSU Channel 6, Rouses Market, nola.com, Saturn, Coca-Cola, Preservation Hall, French Market Corporation, New Orleans Hornets, offbeat Magazine, the Steamboat Natchez, CapitalOne Bank, Baldwin Gibson, Where Y’at Magazine, Community Coffee, Continental Airlines, Cox Business, Louisiana Lottery, Whitney Bank, The Court of Two Sisters, Tulane Medical Center, Musical Legends Park, Pat O’Briens, The Transportation Revolution – Vespa New Orleans, Renew Our Music, Acme Oyster House, Renaissance Publishing, neworleansrestaurants.com, Royal Sonesta Hotel, WWL AM870, WWOZ 90.7FM, Renaissance Publishing, Clear Channel Radio,
Herencia Hispana, and KGLA 1540.
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.
*Attendance numbers are calculated based on actual counts (that are adjusted down by percentage to account for repeat entrances and exits). Fess Security counts at entry and exit points of major stages. This number does not include attendance at the French Quarter Festival Royal and Bourbon Street stages, Children’s Headquarters, Battle of the Bands, Dancing at Dusk, Preservation Hall, Legends Park and other special events. The organization is pleased to report record sales of food, beverages and merchandise.
French Quarter Festival Sponsors said…
“Zatarain’s is the nation’s leading marketer of New Orleans-Style foods, priding ourselves on great taste, high quality and a devotion to the city’s cuisine,” said Jim Pearse, General Manager of Zatarain’s. “It was a natural fit for us to help sponsor the French Quarter Festival because of its commitment to the fun and flavor of New Orleans.”
David Blossman, President of Abita Brewing Company said, “French Quarter Festival was a big success for Abita Beer. When New Orleans favorite beer gets together with New Orleans favorite local festival it’s a win-win situation for everyone. The nice weather, hard working volunteers and Abita Beer lovers helped us set a new French Quarter Festival record for beer sales. In fact, Abita Beer sold 32% more than the 2007 beer sponsor. We’re glad Abita Beer was on-hand for all the great food, great music and great times and we’re looking forward to Satchmo Summerfest in August.”
“The French Quarter Festival continues to be both a great opportunity for us to showcase the very best of our authentic culture to the world, and a very important economic boost for our French Quarter merchants,” said Stephen Perry, President and CEO the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are proud to be a part of one of the best events on the city’s calendar for residents and visitors alike.”