Rain came to both the 2016 and 2017 editions of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. So did the same number of festgoers.
Attendance for this year's Jazz Festival totaled approximately 425,000, organizers said Wednesday. They announced the same figure last year.
Downpours curtailed one festival day both years, cutting into ticket sales and reversing a steady upward trajectory since Hurricane Katrina.
In 2015, Jazz Fest — officially it is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell — drew an estimated 460,000 attendees, the highest total since Katrina.
That paled in comparison to 2001, when attendance hit 650,000. The figure that year included what may have been the biggest single day in festival history, featuring the Dave Matthews Band and New Orleans rapper Mystikal, who was then at the peak of his popularity.
Matthews has returned to the Fair Grounds several times since then, including this year's appearance as part of an acoustic duo with Tim Reynolds. But he has never again attracted an audience as large as in 2001.
The only main Acura Stage act this year to fully fill the field and the large green bleachers behind it was Stevie Wonder. Wonder was rained out entirely in 2016 on the second Saturday, after a mid-afternoon monsoon flooded the Fair Grounds and forced organizers to shut down the festival early. A steady drizzle fell all day on the closing Sunday, further dampening spirits and tamping down ticket sales.
Storms on this year's first Sunday delayed the festival's opening by four hours and diminished what likely would have been an enormous crowd for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
Cuban-American rapper/pop star Pitbull, who was to have closed the Congo Square Stage that evening, canceled his show, reportedly because the day's dicey weather prevented him from flying to New Orleans.
Harry Connick Jr. drew a relatively modest crowd as the first Friday's Acura Stage headliner. Showers on Thursday morning likely discouraged some attendees; Widespread Panic fans had plenty of open green space to dance in that afternoon.
On other days, contemporary R&B singer Usher, backed by the "Tonight Show" house band the Roots, and annual favorite Frankie Beverly & Maze filled the Congo Square Stage field. But that space is considerably smaller than the Acura Stage field.
Festival fans will try again next year for seven days of sunny weather. The 2018 Jazz Festival, the 49th overall, is set for April 27 to May 6.