Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- The French Quarter Creole Tomato Festival kicked off Wednesday night with its first ever gala in the heart of the the French Market.

Before the event, half the market was closed off to vendors for set-up to the dismay of those who count on the market to make a living.

'It has displaced half of the vendors who set up here 365 days a year,' said French Market vendor Dana Tharp.

One of two pavilions were closed at the French Market on Wednesday, displacing vendors so crews could set up for the fundraiser.

Vendors who contacted Eyewitness News say the move cuts into their livelihoods. Some claim they never got notice.

Tharp was able to set up his booth. But the veteran vendor said not everyone walked away scot-free.

'People had to select different spots at another end, everybody got crammed into the same spot. A lot of vendors went home as a result. Some people didn't show up as results because of this,' said Tharp.

'We held it on a Wednesday, which is typically the slowest vendor day of the week, but we also went through great lengths to make sure no vendor was put out of work,' said French Market Corporation Executive Director Jon Smith.

The French Market Corporation says an e-mail was sent out a week ahead of time and signs were posted warning vendors about the gala.

Smith said the event was designed to raise money for a farmer's market planned near the same space.

'It wasn't as much an inconvenience for me. I have a little bit of seniority,' said Charles Garrison. The self-proclaimed 'inspirational poet' has been setting up shop in the market for about 10 years.

The gala is a small hiccup for Garrison, who was forced to move to a different spot, but he knows others faced a different challenge.

'For the people who may have been further down on the tenure list, it ended up kind of squeezing them out of a place for the day,' said Garrison.

French Market vendors say they were also told by the city to pack up shop two hours early on Wednesday to make way for the gala.

Read or Share this story: