NOLA, my love: You have a problem. You’re addicted. To fests.
The severity of the situation became apparent a few weeks ago. My friend Kristine and I were enjoying a Monday night Pimms at Tonique with our favorite bartender. Somewhere between our 3rd and 4th round, we started talking about Crescent City Fest.
“Are you going?” one of the patrons innocently asked. Kristine, wearing a stunningly subtle tiara, looked at him with dismay, shocked that anyone would dare ask such a question out loud. “Look,” she said, “you stick the word ‘fest’ on anything and people in New Orleans show up. Fests are our crack. We can’t help ourselves.”
Kristine’s right. Even in this city of indulgence, NOLA has an overabundance of fests. They come in all shapes and sizes. The big ones like Jazz Fest and Voodoo Fest, the medium ones like Bayou Boogaloo and Crescent City and the small ones that can–and do–literally fit in a large backyard, like Chaz Fest. They run all year from the Creole Gumbo Fest in March right through the Swamp, Fringe and Po-boy Fests in November (the cruelest is Satchmo Fest–held in August when blood boils and sweat pours). And no one worries if the fests seem more than a little redundant (do we really need a New Orleans Seafood Fest and a Louisiana Seafood Fest?) or a bit too narrowly focused (hello, Creole Tomato Fest).
But it doesn’t matter. As Kristine said, people hear “fest” and we go. We don’t even pause to ask what the fest actually is. To paraphrase that old commercial, if it’s a “fest,” it has to be good.
In fact, somewhere between the 4th and 5th round of Pimms that night at Tonique, we surmised that, if the government wanted to increase tax receipts around here, they should pitch a white tent outside the Loyola post office on April 15; put local faves like Lil’ Freddie King, Meschiya Lake and Kermit up there; serve some Abita and po’boys; and call the whole damned thing “Tax Fest”.
“You couldn’t get in until you mailed your return,” I said.
“People would totally be running around trying to get them done,” Kristine agreed. “Because you just can’t miss a fest. What would people think of you?”
Now, NOLA my love. I know what you’re thinking: “He’s being a bit over the top.” “It’s not that bad.” Or maybe you’re even telling yourself, “I can stop at any time.”
In which case, I have two words for you: Mirliton Fest.