From art to music to food residents, tourists enjoy jazz Fests' 1st weekend

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 28, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- The combination of good weather and big name performers pulled in thousands of people to The Jazz and Heritage Festival as it marks its 45th anniversary.

Guitar legend Eric Clapton finished up the first weekend at the New Orleans Fair Grounds.

With flags blowing in the brisk, cool breeze, the Fair Grounds was packed from one side to the other. The crowd cheered as Clapton began 'Layla'.

But before we give you a sample of what the iconic headliner was playing, here's what else was going on at the Jazz Fest.

On the heritage side of the festival you could hear artisans at work. For generations they have crafted all things Louisiana from wrought iron, to a fifth generation plastering contractor.

"I'm from the Seventh Ward. We have a tradition of fine craftsmanship no matter what trade it is you know," said Jeff Poree', a plastering contractor who makes and repairs the huge ceiling medallions in homes dating back to the 1800s.

People worldwide collect hand made accordions made by a craftsman from Lafayette Parish.

"If I started on one accordion and just worked on one probably 150 hours. It's a lot of time involved, that's why we work on a bunch at one time like we just started 45 at one time," said Clarence "Junior" Martin, who has been an accordion maker for 30 years.

Nowhere else is the talent and importance of telling your Mardi Gras Indian story evident than from one man who creates his beaded costume despite his disability.

"It will take me like three weeks to finish that piece there if I do it three hours a day consistently," said Mardi Gras Indian Bennie Ratcliff, who uses special tools so he can bead from his wheelchair.

At the medical tent, nothing major this weekend, just the agony of "da-feet".

"The main thing people come in for is because they got brand new shoes they're wearing, and they got blisters on their feet," explained Dr. Norman McSwain, a Tulane trauma surgeon and director of the Trauma Center at the LSU Interim Hospital.

The runner up in the medical tent, dehydration from the sun and 'liquid fun' combination.

"The rule is that for every alcoholic drink, you have one bottle of water," Dr. McSwain cautioned. He said there are ambulances next to the tent in case someone has to be taken to the hospital. Over the years, people have come in complaining of chest pains and headaches as well.

But the 'liquid fun' will of course put you in the special "necessity" line. Those already there were oblivious about letting the third trimester mother-to-be from Ireland break in front.

But she didn't mind.

"It's worth it. Definitely worth it. I'd come again maybe next year," said Mary Corrie, seven months pregnant who had recently moved to Houston from Ireland.

"You get your beer and you go to the bathroom and it's all worth the wait and the hassle before Clapton comes on," said Paula Landry, another woman in the "necessity" line.

People were also taking advantage of the short lines at the food vendors as the masses walked over to hear Clapton.

And then the pay off, as he closed out the day.

 

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