COVID-19 has taken one of our favorite New Orleans events away from us, at least for now.
As we got news of the novel coronavirus in January and February, the reports were drips that we watched without paying much attention. As the virus made its presence more prominent in recent days, it wasn’t until our leaders started canceling activities, postponing events and partially or fully closing businesses and services that we started paying more attention.
One of the biggest reality slaps was the NBA suspending the remainder of the season for one of the most popular professional sports leagues. Even those not following government, politics and all things coronavirus woke up with that news, because they couldn’t watch Zion Williamson, LeBron James or their favorite NBA players.
Then, just Tuesday, one of our biggest and most loved events got the ax. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival got rescheduled.
What is a New Orleans spring without the Jazz Fest? We’ll soon know. The April-May event, which hosts more than 500 acts and brings in about $300 million, is second only to the city’s Carnival season in terms of our cultural economy.
"At the direction of the City of New Orleans authorities, in response to ongoing COVID-19 health concerns, the 2020 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell will not occur this April and May, as scheduled," a festival statement said. "We will announce exact dates and additional details soon."
The festival is a great, 50-year-old event that draws New Orleanians who don’t care for other festivals, Louisianians for whom this is their favorite cultural event of the year, friends who are a bit more friendly as they’re booking plans to visit, and tourists from across the globe.
The postponement means a number of community groups who count on making the Jazz Fest engine go cannot count on the cash they earn to do good deeds during the rest of the year.
Jazz Fest is the latest of a number of spring festivals moving to the fall. The Buku festival moves to Labor Day weekend in September. The French Quarter Festival moves to the first weekend in October. Lafayette’s Festival International de Louisiane, scheduled for late April, is off, and organizers are hoping for a fall date. The mid-April Baton Rouge Blues festival is off until further notice.
The coronavirus economic and cultural impact is getting deeper and deeper, and it’s hurting us — culturally and economically — in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We will miss our spring festival fun. But in the end, coronavirus will be beat with us sticking together and doing what we must do so we can dance, eat and frolic with a wonderful series of festivals this fall.