Beautiful weather shone upon a sizeable crowd Friday as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival opened its doors for the second day of the second weekend.
Outside the gates, artists lined the streets selling their crafts, including fleur-de-lis-decorated straw hats, dangling earrings, flowered wreaths and beaded, croqueted umbrellas adorned with fringe.
Thirsty festival-goers poured outside of Liuzza’s On The Track as Jazz Fest music began to drift in the breeze, mixing with the sounds of brass bands playing on the street. In keeping with tradition, locals Penny Curran, an accountant, and small business owner Lennie Ponseti stopped to enjoy Bloody Marys before headed inside the gates. They were planning to see No Doubt later Friday.
“I’ve been going literally half my life,” Curran laughed, dancing as a trumpeter blew his horn just across the street.
By then, patrons had packed into the field at the Acura Stage for Kristin Diable, the Americana singer. The Gospel Tent was also already overflowing by 11:15 a.m. for the Zulu Gospel Male Ensemble, a vital part of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club celebrations.
Meanwhile, a smaller crowd gathered at the Lagniappe Stage in the grandstand to hear the wailing trumpet and deep bass being played by the University of New Orleans Jazz All Stars.
Patrons were soaking it all up — including Carole Snyder, a retired 70-year-old Florida resident who was making her tenth trip back to Jazz Fest.
Snyder had committed to both weekends, and said her only regret was that Bonnie Raitt wasn’t on the lineup. Other than that, she couldn’t get enough of the jazz, blues and rock, and the iconic foods: crawfish bread, Cajun jambalaya, oyster patties and a plethora of poboys.
On Friday, Snyder said she was there specifically to see Chicago, the pop-rock band founded in 1967 in the city of the same name, which was slated to start just before 5:30 at the Gentilly Stage.
“The music saturation is my favorite part,” Snyder said.
The atmosphere was a huge improvement from the week before, when rain and lightning shut down the stages early. Hardly a cloud was in the sky, and guests enjoyed the comfortable 73-degree weather.
“Brother” Mike Dennis, 55, an artist who lives in Maryland, said he was looking forward to the sunny day, and had come prepared with a straw hat, backpack, lawn chair and blanket. He was in a joyous mood as he sipped a vodka-and-cranberry cocktail before heading inside the gate.
He added that not even inclement weather could stop his fun, however, and he would have been out on the track rain or shine, just like last weekend.
“That was the best day of the weekend,” Dennis said of Saturday, when he ended up soaked to the bone, but danced the day away anyway. “That’s what Jazz Fest is all about.”