NEW ORLEANS — It is another devastating blow to the local economy. This year’s French Quarter Festival and Satchmo Summer Festival are now cancelled.
For festivals that call the French Quarter home, organizers couldn’t see how to pull off events and maintain safety with COVID-19 still claiming lives.
“We’re devastated to have to make this announcement. We are 100 percent a local organization, and as you know, we are a non-profit with a mission to drive the economy and to celebrate our culture. And we know how important that is right now,” said Emily Madero, CEO of French Quarter Festivals, Inc.
Madero said in their 37 years, they’ve never had to cancel an entire season of festivals. That decision means the loss of a $200-million economic impact, not to mention 17-hundred local jobs. That includes vendors, restaurants and musicians like Charmaine Neville, who’s been with French Quarter Fest from the early days.
“I feel like we’re missing something. We’re missing so much, and I’m not just talking about the money. I’m talking about the comradery, seeing the musicians that you only get to see at that time of the year,” said Neville.
Neville said the loss of Jazz Fest this year was a gut punch. Now comes the one-two combination of French Quarter and Satchmo Fest cancelling. With no live music venues or gig, Neville says musicians are barely holding on.
“All of us are at the margins. I mean we’re at the end,” said Neville.
In a city where local is the biggest brand, these two festivals catered to and featured people living and working here. Vance Vaucresson’s sausage company has been a vendor since the first French Quarter Fest. He’s unsure what the future holds.
“People always say 'oh, you had your pop up, and you’re selling some things that should make up for what you’ve lost.' I’ve got to tell you even with what we’ve been able to build over the years of vending and the following we’ve been fortunate to have, we won’t make up those numbers for these festivals,” said Vaucresson.
On so many levels, 2020 will be a year of losses, but both festivals believe 2021 will be the year of the rebound. They’re confident they’ll be celebrating when that time arrives.
WWL-TV has been a proud partner with French Quarter Fest. To help both festivals survive, their parent non-profit has set up what it’s calling a Resilience Campaign. For more information on how you can support it: www.fqfi.org