Thursday, April 16, 2009
By Susan Langenhennig, The Times-Picayune
The 26th annual French Quarter Festival kicks off Friday (April 17), providing a feast for fans of New Orleans food and music. With no admission fee, the festival is one of the largest free music events in the South.
But producing such an event doesn't come cheap.
The nonprofit French Quarter Festivals Inc. produces the festival, as well as the Satchmo Summerfest in August and the Christmas New Orleans Style programming in December. The nonprofit also contributes to the maintenance and beautification of public areas, including Jackson Square and Woldenberg Riverfront Park.
The group raises money through sponsorships and through the sale of beverages and official merchandise, including its annual French Quarter Festival commemorative pin. A new design is released each year; the 2009 piece was created by Brandy Whisnant of Wellington & Co. Fine Jewelry.
The 1998 French Quarter Festival pin.This scrolled, sterling silver design, which can be worn as a brooch or pendant, was inspired by the neighborhood's ornate ironwork, Whisnant said. It sells for $40.
A limited number of pin designs from past years also are available. The 2006 Fleur de Lis pin, also created by Wellington & Co., is $35. The 1998 Gates of Grace pin by Ellis Anderson is $50. All of the jewelry is available at the festival.
The 2006 French Quarter Festival pin.
This year's festival will feature Cajun/zydeco, traditional jazz and brass bands on 17 stages as well as food and drinks by more than 90 restaurants and vendors. New this year will be the Louis-Louis Pavilion Stage, with performances in tribute to Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima, as well as a tent where people can learn more about New Orleans' famous native sons and expanded, interactive programming for children.