Around the world, people are marking calendars for the start of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on April 24. But before Jazz Fest, there is Jay Fest from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, at City Park’s festival grounds, next to Christian Brothers School.

Though smaller in scale, Jay Fest is larger than life. It is a day for the New Orleans community to join neighbor Jay Rink and his fight against a deadly disease called ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Held annually since Rink, 47, was diagnosed five years ago, Jay Fest will begin with Mass at noon, and there will be crawfish, oysters, jambalaya and refreshments. Enjoy music by Lepers Road, Secondhand, The Rockenbraughs and the Chee Weez. Bring your own chairs and blankets.

About 1,200 people gathered at last year’s event, a way to raise money for Rink’s 24-hour-a-day care and to thank everyone for their support, Rink’s mother, Patsy Rink, said last week.

Rink and his family, including five children ages 12 through 18, will be there. “They help care for him beautifully and sleep with him,” Patsy Rink said. “They know everything to do for their daddy.”

Her son was “a big ole strapping boy” before ALS ravaged him, she said. A neurodegenerative disease that progresses from muscle weakness to paralysis, ALS eventually causes respiratory failure. There is no known cure.

Adults who attend the event are asked to donate $50, but no one will be turned away, Patsy Rink said. There will be activities for children 12 and younger, who may enter free of charge. Donors will receive a ticket to the event and a “Pray for Jay” wristband. For information and to donate in advance, visit


Don your derby or best period attire and enjoy “Downton Goes to the Races,” a gala benefiting WYES public television at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 9, at the historic New Orleans Fairgrounds, 1751 Gentilly Blvd.

A patron party begins at 6:30 p.m. with the Jon Bauer jazz trio. Guests will sip cocktails and stroll the race track’s paddock while savoring selections from the Windsor Court menu. Tickets for the patron party are $500, with junior patron tickets for those 21 to 25 available for $250.

Tickets for the gala are $250, with tickets available for $100 for those 35 and younger. Dance to the band BRW! and party in the clubhouse overlooking the paddock with views of downtown New Orleans.

Gala raffle details are available online at Winners need not be present. Moss Antiques jewelry will be sold during the event, and 25 percent of the proceeds will benefit WYES, one of the oldest public television stations in the United States, serving southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Event chairpeople are Margaret and Ken Beer, CeCe and Trevor Colhoun, and Allison and Ben Tiller. Sponsors include the New Orleans Fair Grounds, Celebrate Catered Events by the Windsor Court and IberiaBank. For reservations and information, visit or call (504) 486-5511.

Building Bridges

The C.G. Jung Society will present “Crossing Inner Borders With Cinderella” by Catherine Meeks at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Parker United Methodist Church, 1130 Nashville Ave. Meeks will discuss cross-cultural stories as a way to build inner and outer human bridges. The event is free for society members, $15 for nonmembers and $10 for students who are not members. For information, visit

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at