NEW ORLEANS — Crews spent Wednesday preparing the banks of Bayou St. John for a weekend of music, food and fun.
The Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo kicks off Friday with new admission fees for the first time in its 14-year history. The festival is now charging $10 per day or $20 for a three-day pass.
This year our land use fees were six times higher then last year," said Karin Curley from Friends of Bayou St. John which sponsors the event. "We really had to make a decision between cancelling the festival altogether and charging this small fee."
Organizers tell WWL-TV, last year the festival paid the city of New Orleans approximately $5,000 in land use fees. They said this year, the city wants roughly $30,000.
City Communications Director Beau Tidwell said "The city is required by the Louisiana Constitution to charge fair market value for any use of public land for a private purpose."
Tidwell added, Bayou Boogaloo made the decision on its own to begin charging admission.
The event sponsor maintains the city is not taking into consideration the festival's in kind contributions. It supports other non profits and pays to protect and preserve the bayou.
"Just yesterday, we facilitated almost $20,000 of maintenance and care for these beautiful oak trees right here along the bayou that we actually planted in 2012 to replace the trees that were killed during Hurricane Katrina," Curley said.
Wednesday, the city threw Bayou Boogaloo another curve ball.
Crews posted new 'No Parking' signs on the lot across the street where the festival has always parked volunteers, vendors and musicians.
Organizers now have to pay more than $5,000 to use the lot.
Neighbors talked about the new admission fees.
"It was so nice to have a free concert to go to, a free festival," Jim Drury said.
"I think that $20 for a weekend is totally fair and I also don't disagree with the city charging a fair amount for land usage," Bobby Cosentino said.
Organizers said they have some tough decisions to make about the future of the event after Bayou Boogaloo 2019.
This year's headliners include Anders Osborne, Tad Benoit, Cowboy Mouth and Amanda Shaw.