The French Market’s Creole Tomato Festival has long been known for being the first and often best place to get the first crop of the Creole tomato season. It is purposefully held the second weekend in June, as that is when the farmers consider the best picking time.
The festival was created 27 years ago to celebrate fresh Louisiana produce and to honor the long history of the French Market’s hosting of fresh goods. While it is no longer bustling as a produce and seafood market as in days of yore, the French Market is still bustling as a recreational destination full of diverse shopping options, great food, excellent atmosphere and plenty of authentic New Orleans experiences via market vendors, performers and a healthy mix of tourist and local traffic.
The Creole Tomato Festival, like the French Market, has once again become a destination for families seeking a manageable but unique daytime experience in the French Quarter. Because of its location in the Lower Quarter, it has great advantages over other festival events in the City. We hope to see you THIS weekend on either June 8 or 9 (from 8:00am – 5:00pm) for this fun annual event.
Here’s five reasons why visiting the French Market during a festival (or any time of year) makes it unique and great for all ages to explore:
- It’s easily accessible: You can park, walk around and easily access everything from Jackson Square to the Mississippi River Boardwalk and still have the energy to enjoy the festival crowds. The French Market parking lot spans the riverfront behind Café du Monde, and there is plenty of parking for early arrivers (anytime before 10 a.m. on weekends). This makes it especially nice for families, who are typically out of the house earlier than your average French Quarter visitor!
- It’s easy to escape the heat: With so many indoor retail shops and shady areas, indoor and outdoor cafes and restaurants, and added festival bonuses like misting fans throughout the property, you are never far from relief from the June sunshine and heat.
- Your family won’t go thirsty: Cool drinks can be had on every block, from Bloody Mary’s and ice cream daquiris for Mom and Dad to sno-balls and lemonade for kids.
- It’s a natural playground for kids: There are cool resting, playing, climbing and running spots that you will not find anywhere else in the French Quarter. Latrobe Park and Dutch Alley both have fountains, benches, and nooks and crannies, as well as wide open spaces perfect for kids to safely explore with mom and dad, away from traffic, bars and busy foot traffic. Shady spots with trees and live music add a perfect touch for relaxation and entertainment.
- Expose your kids to culture and history: Shopping and wandering the French Market District exposes kids to a wonderful mix of international cultures and local merchants. The Flea Market boasts vendors from around the world, and our shops offer everything from kids books to locally made artwork, clothes, and toys. Watching pralines or beignets being made is another free treat!
Why you should attend The Creole Tomato Fest with your family
This year’s festival boasts two full blocks of kids activities in Dutch Alley from Dumaine Street to St. Phillip Street. Kids can play miniature golf, make a tomato necklace, paint a tomato still-life, and participate in any number of drumming, art, or music workshops, all for free. Live music by seasoned local musicians like The Royal Rounders and Paul Sanchez are sprinkled throughout the kids’ area schedule to ensure that the next generation is exposed to real New Orleans music while playing with bubbles or getting their face painted. An added bonus is the indoor Jazz Park Visitor Center that will host 3 hours of live music and swing dancing lessons and social dancing with New Orleans Swing Dance Festival. The rest of each day will be filled with a mix of storytelling, live music, and a few programs for moms and dads, too, like a panel discussion with WWOZ’s George Ingmire about food and music in NOLA.
Plus, it’s for a good cause: have you heard of Caps for Kids?
The “Caps for Kids” Cool Zone is named for this year’s partner and concessions beneficiary, Caps for Kids, based at Children’s Hospital. All concessions earned will benefit their program. Come out and buy some cotton candy and a souvenir baseball cap from – and for – them!
Caps For Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving hats autographed by athletes, celebrities and other notables to children, adolescents and young adults who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments, was founded in 1993 by Dr. Stephen Heinrich, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans and a clinical professor at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Dr. Heinrich was treating a young man with cancer, who was also an avid Auburn University fan. He gave his patient a hat autographed by Auburn University football coach Terry Bowden and his father, Florida State University football coach, Bobby Bowden. When Dr. Heinrich realized how happy a simple hat could make someone suffering from a life-threatening disease, he organized Caps For Kids to improve the spirits of young cancer patients nationwide.
Dr. Heinrich began to garner autographed hats and scarves from notable personalities to be given to the children with cancer that he treated. Publicity opened new avenues for acquiring hats and soliciting signatures. Dr. Heinrich was soon able to expand the program so that all children receiving chemotherapy for cancer at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans could participate.
Today, Caps For Kids exists at more than 100 hospitals in the United States and Canada. The organization is run by a full-time staff based in New Orleans, with a volunteer Board of Directors from across the nation. The Board of Directors and an Advisory Board help to drive the organization’s growth.