Bestselling author John Grisham opens the the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University as the keynote speaker with Jenna Bush Hager on Thursday.

Fans of New Orleans’ Jazz Fest like to remember that what is now a blockbuster entertainment event was once a small gathering in Congo Square.

Now, fifty years later, Jazz Fest is a circle-the-date extravaganza that draws hundreds of thousands over two jam-packed weekends.

If the New Orleans Book Festival is still around in a half-century, devotees will not remember it as an event that started small, because last weekend’s three-day celebration of literature was a door-busting success.

Standing-room-only crowds came to Tulane to see an all-star list of authors, including Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell, Charles Blow, Bakari Sellers, John Grisham and Imani Perry.

Seeing such large crowds must have gladdened the hearts of the festival’s organizers, lawyer Cheryl Landrieu and author Walter Isaacson, and of Tulane’s President Michael Fitts, who opened his campus to the throngs of book lovers.

They deserve an award for perseverance, because the festival was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 and then canceled again in 2021 for another spike in the pandemic.

We hope the book fest, which Fitts called “a Mardi Gras for the mind,” will still be going strong in 2072 and old-timers will be able to say that the event started strong and stayed strong.