|PRACTICAL TIPS FOR
THE JAZZ FEST VIRGIN
For the Jazz Fest virgin, the sights, sounds and smells can be overwhelming. With over 70 food booths, the local and international cuisine is a large part of the experience. With numerous options of Cajun and international fare, Jazz Fest offers everything from po’boys, to Étouffée (fish stew over rice), to boudin (a type of sausage), to beignets (like a donut), to muffulettas (a New Orleans submarine sandwich), to gumbo. Even if you haven’t heard of half of this cuisine, try it all. Your taste buds will thank you.
Local top five suggestions: the cochon de lait po’boy (juicy, roasted pork sandwiched in between two piece of French bread), the fried shrimp po’boy, the crawfish monica (crawfish pasta in a secret sauce) the pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo (a delicious Cajun stew in a dark roux) and the crawfish bread (bread stuffed with crawfish and cheese). Is your mouth watering yet?
One should mentally prepare for large crowds. While you’ll see lighter crowds on Thursdays and earlier in the day, when it comes to big name performances, seasoned Jazz Fest goers typically camp out at the stages several hours prior to a performance.
New Orleans weather is unpredictable and the Fair Grounds tend to be muddy, so bring lawn chairs, an umbrella, and garbage bags, which double as a raincoat and a dry place to sit. The Louisiana heat can be unforgiving, so pack your sunscreen and a hat too.
Do not forget toilet tissue, as you are sharing those port-o-potties with 400,000 others. To avoid the heavy crowds, walk on the circular horse racing track around the perimeter of the Fair Grounds, and venture out to the grandstands for food demonstrations, art installations, shade and clean restrooms.
While you’re at it, go to the Gospel or Blues tent to discover new bands. Also, get a copy of the official performance schedule and laminate it (the “cubes” schedule- days, times, stages- are released in March 2012).
Last but not least, remember the Fest ends at 7 pm, which gives you a chance to venture out into the city and experience the nightlife of New Orleans.
Be aware festivals such as Jazz Fest and other popular events often book a year in advance so book early.