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(Photo: Zack Smith | Courtesy of Satchmo Summerfest)
A two-day festival honoring the late Louis Armstrong starts tomorrow in the French Quarter even as officials warn against increased cases of a contagious COVID-19 variant.
The festival begins at noon at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, located at 400 Esplanade Ave. and will feature two stages with live music and a half dozen local restaurant vendors.
A festival launch party kicks off Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. aboard the Riverboat Louis Armstrong. Tickets for the event, which cost $50, are no longer for sale online.
The festival is named after Armstrong, a New Orleans influential jazz trumpeter, who was nicknamed “satchel mouth” due to his large mouth and coincides with his Aug. 4, 1901 birthday. Armstrong died in 1971 at 69 years old.
Last year’s Satchmo Summerfest was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers in June announced the return of the festival would return in July and as cases of the coronavirus continued to drop following vaccination efforts.
Daily new infections were as high as 581 in Orleans Parish in January, but steadily declined and remained relatively stable at about just over 100 cases or below from the end of February until the beginning of July, when they began creeping up, according to health data as recent as Friday.
New infections per day surged to 693 on July 26 and have slowly declined to 393 on July 30, data show.
Officials are attributing rise of infections to the emergence of the coronavirus’ delta variant, a mutated version of the disease which was first detected in India December 2020 and is more contagious, although vaccines have been shown to be effective against the variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Organizers said the festival will operate under coronavirus guidelines provided by New Orleans officials and the CDC, including mask wearing.
On July 21, New Orleans health officials issued an advisory asking residents to wear masks indoors to prevent the increase of daily infections, which they are attributing to unvaccinated people.
(Photo: Creole Tomato Festival in 2011. | Reading Tom | CC Flickr)
The 2021 Creole Tomato Festival kicked-off Saturday for a one-day free event in the French Quarter with second line parades, live music and vendors.
Now in its 35th year, the festival began 11 a.m. at the French Market located in the 1000 block of North Peters Street and ends at 4 p.m.
Last year’s festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s festival included a blend of in-person and virtual events.
The festival started Saturday with a the Ripe & Ready Secondline parade, which started at Washington Artillery Park and proceeded to the French Market, and included performances by the Yellow Pochahontas Black Masking Indians Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Club, the Black Storyville Baby Dolls, New Orleans Brass Band and the NOLA Chorus Girls.
The festival recognizes the “Creole tomato”, which is technically not a single kind of tomato, but is more akin to a branding term.
Farmers in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes would let their tomatoes vine-ripen and grow in a rich alluvial soil, which created a unique flavor distinguished from other Louisiana- and U.S.-grown tomatoes, according to Kathryn Fontenot, writing for the Louisiana State University AgCenter.
The farmers planted several varieties, but labeled them “Creole” tomatoes despite the inconsistency, Fontenot added. Saving the seeds was a common practice among farmers and gardeners, who’d pass on the seeds to other people.
To make things even more confusing, LSU researcher Teme Hernandez developed a variety in 1969, which he named the Creole tomato and was not commonly grown in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, according to Fontenot.
The variety is described as medium-sized, deep-red with some resistance to fusarium wilt, or a fungal vascular disease that infects certain plants, including tomatoes and eggplants, turning their leaves brown and necrotic.
The AgCenter, however, did not maintain a seed stock of Creole tomato and so now the term generally describes any tomato grown in Louisiana, according to Fontenot.
At the time of this writing, one hour of the festival remains. In addition to the second line and music performances, George’s Produce will be selling fresh Creole tomatoes.
Official festival t-shirts, Bloody Marys and art will be available to buy from vendors located in Dutch Alley located in the 900 block of North Peters Street.
In addition, the New Orleans Jazz Museum located at 400 Esplanade Ave. is hosting the NOLA Zydeco Fest.
On August 22, New Orleans officials will hold the eighth and final open house for the redesign of the New Links network to improve public transportation in the city and surrounding region.
The meeting will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Museum located at 1205 N. Rampart St.
The public meeting is organized by officials from the Regional Planning Commission (RPC), Regional Transit Authority, and the mayor’s Office of Transportation, some of whom will be in attendance.
New Links is a year-long project to study transit connectivity between Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard parishes. RPC partnered with Jefferson Transit to conduct the study, which received support from New Orleans officials.
“Our job is to help people get to work, schools, health appointments, entertainment and more across the region,” RPC Director Roesel said in a prepared statement. “It’s the reason we’re encouraging the public to participate.”
The Red Dress Run is an event organized by the New Orleans Hash House Harriers (NOH3) on the second Saturday of August each year and thousands of men and women wearing red dresses will be running through the French Quarter on August 10 with drinks in hand.
Now in its 25th year, the purpose of the run is to raise money for local charities and nonprofits. The event is similar to Hash House Harrier events in other parts of the world, except this one is in New Orleans.
The Hash House Harriers is a worldwide social organization of people who get together for non-competitive runs and drink alcoholic beverages. Their slogan is “a drinking club with a running problem.” The term hasher refers to members of the social club.
Red Dress Run co-rganizer Bill Healy told WVUE’s Nancy Parker that the run originally began with 60 to 100 of the NOH3’s members in the first few years. Eventually, the club allowed non-members to join and let them register. All of the money for registration goes to charity, Healy said.
Now the event attracts thousands. Co-organizer Chris Vial told Parker that as many as 4,000 people could participate this year. In addition to the people who pay to register for the actual run, Vial estimated that as many as 15,000 people will just show up to the French Quarter wearing red or red dresses—meaning you don’t actually need to register to enjoy the festivities.
“It’s about that big every year,” Vial said. “We’ve grown exponentially each year in small increments. It’s New Orleans, it’s a big party.”
The event begins at 9:30 a.m. at Crescent Park and the run begins somewhere along North Peters Street at 10:30 a.m. The run itself is only a short distance, but the event lasts all day. Only those who register can participate in the run.
Registration is $65, which includes free beer, lunch, live bands, and a bib with a registration number. Parking costs $20 at 450 Mandeville St. for all day. For more information, visit neworleanshash.com.