French Quarter Festivals wrapped up three days of its homage to jazz great Louis Armstrong with the presentation of the annual Satchmo SummerFest. Staged on the grounds of the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint where Esplanade Avenue meets the Mississippi River, the Mint was the place to hang out this past weekend if you were seeking to feast on some incredible music.

All weekend long, the sweet sounds of jazz drifted through the French Quarter neighborhood as performing artists packed the house on two main stages for a showcase of harmony and syncopation. By closing day on Sunday, crowds had swelled to what seemed to me larger than the usual, confirming this festival’s ever-growing popularity with locals and summertime visitors to the Crescent City.

Moving from stage to stage, I saw families making a day of it and a nice mix of Satchmo newbies sprinkled in with seasoned SummerFest veterans. Prime real estate seemed to be under the tent at the Red Beans and Ricely Yours Stage, where folks set up early just to catch Kermit Ruffins’ trumpet tribute to Armstrong.

Ruffins held court as he shared the stage along with his famed BBQ Swingers. At the other end, the all-female brass band the Pinettes rocked the house with plenty of room on the dance floor to sway and do your thing to the sounds of jazz. Earlier in the day, Mark Braud and his New Orleans Jazz Giants brought the house down with an all-star lineup accented by a gentle breeze that occasionally caught the oak trees for nature’s version of air-conditioning.

Satchmo SummerFest marks the end of French Quarter Fest’s spring to summer music season. The salute to Armstrong is one of three FQFI productions that begin with French Quarter Festival in April and culminate with the organization’s presentation of Christmas New Orleans’ Style in December. FQFI is a nonprofit entity with a mission to promote the Vieux Carré and the city of New Orleans through events and activities that capture the culture and flavor of this unique American city.

To learn more about French Quarter Festivals Inc., just visit www.fqfi.org.

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