NEW ORLEANS — March 30 will be a big sports day in New Orleans, especially if you’re chasing a finish line.
On Tuesday, the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots announced the slating of the 100th running of the Louisiana Derby for March 30, complete with a new infield music and food festival headlined by New Orleans rockers Cowboy Mouth.
In addition, the milestone derby event will fall on the same day as the 35th running of the Crescent City Classic 10K road race.
During a news conference at the Fair Grounds on Tuesday, officials from both events said the two committees worked in conjunction to make March 30 a special experience.
“We think it will be a great day of racing for horses and humans,” said CCC director Eric Stuart.
Fair Grounds President Tim Bryant said planning for the centennial edition of the Louisiana Derby began right after the 99th version this year. Fair Grounds and racing officials wanted to mark the occasion with an event that could draw thousands of visitors to the Crescent City.
The idea of a music and food festival was hatched, with similar events at the Kentucky Derby and other famed races as inspiration. Event officials said the March 30 infield festival will feature pedestrian bridges over the track to the infield, a musical lineup headlined by Cowboy Mouth, and a monster food-truck gathering. The result, Bryant said, “will give the city of New Orleans the $1 million sporting event it deserves.”
Added Bryant: “It will make for a full and historic day in Mid-City.”
The derby festival was developed with help from City Hall and the local tourism groups, especially the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.
“We want to congratulate the Fair Grounds for really stepping up their game and adding something extra to our calendar,” NOTMC President Mark Romig said.
“The Fair Grounds is so significant to what we are doing for New Orleans. We’ve given people another reason to come into our city.”
Officials said one of the keys to planning the track’s festival was coordinating with the Crescent City Classic committee, which, Stuart said, readily decided to change the foot race’s course and move its start time up to 8 a.m. to accommodate for the staging of the Louisiana Derby.
The equine event, meanwhile, pushed its opening bell back to 2 p.m. to make sure both races could be attended by as many people as possible.
Representatives from both events hope participants in the CCC and its own ensuing postrace festival will migrate from downtown to Gentilly Avenue for the Fair Ground’s festivities.
“March 30 is going to be a full day in New Orleans,” Stuart said.
Tickets for the Fair Grounds Race Course Infield Festival will be available online in January and will run from $25 for general admission to VIP packages starting at $60. Discounted admission to the infield fest will be available to participants in the Crescent City Classic as well.
The Fair Grounds’ 141st thoroughbred season begins Thanksgiving Day and runs until March 31, the day after the centennial running of the Louisiana Derby.