Tire tracks run through muddy fields strewn with debris at City Park, the detritus of a water-logged Voodoo Music + Arts Experience on Halloween weekend.
Weeks later, the festival grounds remain a quagmire.
The culprit? A soggy weekend with rains so bad that the final day’s events had to be canceled and that left the grounds a soft and sodden mess torn up by the feet of crowds of festivalgoers.
“Unfortunately, we had rain while they were mobilizing. We had rain during the event and rain after the event,” City Park spokesman John Hopper said. “It was kind of a trifecta of a situation you don’t want.”
City Park is in the process of fixing the damage, but it’s not clear how quickly the area will be restored to normal.
Crews have been out with bulldozers and other equipment grading and leveling the roughly 60-acre site, Hopper said, but Mother Nature still isn’t cooperating.
The project has been complicated by further rain that has set back some of the work and by the lateness of the season, which makes regrowing turf a challenge. The park is in touch with several companies to discuss options for grass that will grow through the winter, Hopper said.
While the jogging path around the fields has reopened, the muddy mess has essentially been off-limits to other activities. That’s meant the sports leagues that normally use the torn-up fields have had to find other accommodations.
There’s little that could have been done to prevent the problem, Hopper said.
“They couldn’t have done anything outside of putting a big umbrella over the whole thing,” he said. “It was not Voodoo’s fault, and I can guarantee you they would not have wished it upon themselves. They didn’t go out of their way to make things worse.”
Live Nation, the company behind Voodoo, puts up a $20,000 deposit each year that can be used to restore the area after the festival is over. No final price tag has been set on this year’s restoration effort, but Hopper said the company has committed to paying what it takes to do the repairs.
“I can tell you Voodoo has assured us they know what their responsibility is; they take it seriously,” Hopper said. “They said they’re going to make it right. Everything they are doing reassures us that that’s exactly what they’re going to do.”
The company itself has committed to fixing the park back to the way it was before the festival.
“Live Nation is in the process of restoring New Orleans’ City Park to its original condition following this year’s festival with the intention of completing the work as soon as possible,” a statement from the company said. “We continue to work closely with park officials during this process and look forward to bringing the 18th annual Voodoo Music + Arts Experience to New Orleans’ City Park in 2016.”
Extended clean-ups aren’t unexpected after festivals. The Fair Grounds Race Course must be mucked out after the rains that often hit the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
“When it rains and you’ve got 10,000-plus people out there, things get muddy,” Hopper said.
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.