Photos: French Quarter Fest _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- Tony Knott from England and Sirah Laub of New Orleans dance to the music of the PresHall Brass on the Capital One Bank Stage in Jackson Square as the first day of the 31st Annual French Quarter Festival gets underway with opening stages along the riverfront and Jackson Square in New Orleans, La. Thursday, April 10, 2014. Music ranging from jazz to zydeco fill the air with music along with many food booths. The festival claims to be the largest free festival in the world. The festival runs through Sunday.

The 2014 French Quarter Festival set an attendance record over the weekend, drawing nearly 733,000 festivalgoers from April 10 through April 13. Up from last year’s attendance 560,000, it’s a dramatic jump for what’s already the largest free music festival in the South.

The 31st annual French Quarter Festival included Grammy-winner Dr. John’s only spring festival appearance in New Orleans and a 50th anniversary performance by the Dixie Cups. More than 1,400 musicians in all performed on 21 stages throughout the French Quarter, playing jazz, R&B, funk, brass band, gospel, opera, Cajun and zydeco music.

Festival statistics also included record sales for Rouses Supermarkets, which sold more than 40,000 pounds of boiled crawfish and more than 5,000 servings of crawfish boil boudin. Beer sales were also rose. Abita Beer reported 905 kegs (up from 632 in 2013) sold and more than 800 cases of beer sold. Pelican Ice delivered 236,160 pounds of ice, up from 200,000 pounds in 2013.

French Quarter Festival is produced by the non-profit French Quarter Festivals, Inc., which also produces Satchmo SummerFest in August and Christmas New Orleans Style in December.