New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival “Jazzfest” isn't just about jazz, it's only a name. Every genre of Americana music is here, from blues, R&B, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk music, Latin, rock, rap music, country music, bluegrass and everything in between. And of course there is lots of jazz, both contemporary and traditional. Don't get hung up on names, it is an amazing experience. Jazz was born in New Orleans about 100 years ago (early 20th century), but its roots can be found in the musical traditions of both Africa and Europe. In fact, some people say that jazz is a union of African and European music.
The festival is a celebration of New Orleans with a unique and recognizable culture that will grow on you. The food choices are endless, but you are surrounded with Cajun specialties. The food vendors are from a local restaurant and serve such favorites as Shrimp Po boys, Cochon de Laits, Crawfish Monica, Boudin Balls and Mango Freezes.
Local artists bring their works to display and sell. The Congo Square African Marketplace contains pieces from local, national and international artisans, and has the atmosphere of a true marketplace. Many of the artisans utilize ancient crafting techniques. In the Contemporary Crafts area, one can find handmade clothing, leather goods, jewelry, paintings, sculptures and musical instruments, and visitors can also watch demonstrations of metal, painting, pottery and fiber works. Lastly, the Louisiana Marketplace contains baskets.
One unique aspect of the Festival is the allocation of large areas for dedication to cultural and historical practices unique to Louisiana. These dedications depict many cultures that exist in the state, including both the Cajun culture and the culture of the descendants of native Canary Islanders, as well as many others. Some of the areas include the Louisiana Folklife Village, which focuses on state art and culture, the Native American Village and the Grandstand.
In addition, parades are held throughout the duration of the event. They include parades by the Mardi Gras Indians, as well as by marching and brass bands and various social aid and pleasure clubs.
Randos - Jazz fest is filled with randos. If you like to people watch, the opportunities here are endless. There isn't even a spot you can call the best. Everywhere is great. You'll see old ladies in outfits they shouldn't be wearing, old and young guys in ridiculous hats, people dressed in warm clothes despite the 1000 degree heat. You'll see that and so much more. People watching is my favorite part of the fest.