The other day I got to wondering just who comes up with the ideas for all these festivals we’re having in New Orleans. The calendar is full, and the brains behind some of the partying is obvious. Tales of the Cocktail, taking place this week, is a bar industry event to which everybody’s invited, and our town is the logical venue, since pharmacist Antoine Peychaud is said to have mixed the first cocktail ever here some 200 years ago in the form of the famous Sazerac.
However, the New Orleans take on the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, seemed a stretch until I gave it some thought. Why not? New Orleans was, after all, Spanish territory for as long as it was French territory.
I’m not a member of the festival ideas committee, but I can offer some suggestions for a few new celebrations:
Other festivals don’t need brains like mine behind them. They get started as money-makers for the city’s different neighborhoods — the po-boy festival on Oak Street, for example; the fetes held in Audubon and City parks — and all are aimed at getting tourists to join in fattening the pocketbooks of those who live, work and do business in New Orleans.
When I arrived here 56 years ago, Mardi Gras was perhaps the city’s only really big festival. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall any parties to rival it until Jazz Fest began in the ‘70s. Now we have French Quarter Festival, VooDoo and Swamp festivals, Zoo To Do, Decadence, White Linen Night, etc.
And then there are the smaller celebrations — for Creole Tomatoes, for Greek food and culture at the Orthodox Church, even an event for the waiters who serve in our famous restaurants.
It seems that we hardly need more festivals, but when we do, I’m happy to have been of assistance.