A First Timer’s Review of Jazz Fest (And Why I Don’t Want to Bring My Kids)
Even though we lived in Baton Rouge for ten years before moving to New Orleans last summer, somehow, my husband and I had never been to Jazz Fest! Well, I’ll let you know right off the bat, this will now be an event we attend every year that we are able. We had a blast, even in the pouring rain! Yes, we were there on the second Saturday in the absolute downpour. In our group of eight, I was the only one wearing rain-boots. My husband’s Converse were absolutely destroyed and my sister-in-law was totally glopped in muddy sandals. But we honestly did not care, we were kid free and just soaking in the fun and culture that makes up Jazz Fest.
Here are my highlights from the day:
The food was phenomenal. I am an avid food researcher. Before going out to dinner or anywhere that I’ll be eating, I want to know the best things on the menu! I don’t drink a lot in general and I did not drink alcohol at Jazz Fest, therefore enabling me to eat more. Our group drank a lot of beer but I kept my liquids to water and the famous rosemint herbal iced tea which is lightly sweetened with honey and such a refreshing option. We enjoyed Loretta’s lump crab stuffed beignets as well as the praline stuffed beignets both of which were flavorful and delicious. We also loved the Crawfish Monica, a tasty pasta dish with a creamy sauce that could’ve used a dash of salt but was excellent when doused in hot sauce. Later in the day, we got the couchon de lait po-boy, which was a huge hit with its crunchy cabbage slaw and tangy sauce. We also tasted a combo plate which included a crispy pastry filled with crawfish, crawfish beignets, and something I’ve never eaten before: oyster patties which is a stack of pastry with an oyster sauce! I was unfortunately too full to taste the much loved Mango Freeze but have it on my list for next time.
As for the music, it was such a dream! We checked out the Gospel Tent and the Blues Tent and spent a while listening to the iconic Preservation Hall Band followed by Dead and Company, featuring one of our favorite musicians, John Mayer. We had great spots right near the front. We then went over to the Lumineers and I honestly wish we’d gone sooner because they were so fun and put on a great show. By the time we got over there, the sun was out and the evening weather was absolutely perfect.
We didn’t even have time to make it to the other stages and barely looked into the arts and crafts tents. I absolutely want to go for multiple days next year to soak it all in.
I have to give a disclaimer here: I love crowds. I love happy, New Orleans crowds. And I especially love them without children (mine are 3, 5, & 8). I have heard that there are two kinds of Nola parents: those that bring their kids to Jazz Fest and those who don’t. I’m sure the experience would have been different without the pouring rain and muddy puddles. But I really enjoyed not having to wrangle little people or help them pee in the port-o-potties after waiting in a long line. I’m here to be convinced otherwise, though!
As we were leaving, I experienced one of my very favorite New Orleans moments yet. Everyone was in such a happy mood, pouring out into the surrounding neighborhoods where bands were playing on porches, people were selling bootleg t-shirts, and a guy was standing on his truck rapping about passersby. It was just such an iconic moment reminding me of one of my favorite quotes: “In New Orleans, culture doesn’t come down from on high, it bubbles up from the streets.”
I can’t wait to go again. I’ll be hiring a babysitter, unless you convince me otherwise.