Big spring festivals like Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest won’t happen until this fall, but one smaller pop-up event hopes to offer an early taste of festival food and art in the Marigny.
At the mini-festival, JAMNOLA hosts a take-out style food court of festival food items, such as Vaucresson’s Creole hot sausage po-boy, AJ’s Sno-Balls and Rosemint tea, at NOCCA Institute’s Press Street Station, adjacent to the venue at 5 Homer Plessey Way. Festival food will be available for purchase from noon to 6 p.m. over two weekends on April 23 – 24 and April 30 – May 1.
JAMNOLA co-founder Jonny Liss said he came up with the idea as a fun kick-off to festival season while creating a space to support vendors.
“So we said let’s create JAMFest. Let’s create some more exhibits to support our artists,” JAMNOLA co-founder Jonny Liss said. “And let’s create a way for food vendors in New Orleans to make some money and make some people happy with some great food.”
In addition to the art market set up outside of JAMNOLA, there’s also plenty of art to see inside the “cultural funhouse,” as Liss calls it. The attraction has even added a few new exhibits, so it’s worth taking a peek.
As a celebration of festival season, the team welcomes new limited-edition installations from current JAMNOLA artists Josh Hailey and Jessica Strahan.
Hailey will create three collages that will pay tribute to New Orleans festivals, while Strahan will create large wood cut-outs in the likeness of famous New Orleans musicians.
“We’re just happy to just be working and having a good time and collaborating,” Hailey said. “That’s what we do around this season anyway.”
If you’ve been to Jazz Fest, it’s likely you’ve appreciated the artist signage on each stage. The maker of this iconic signage, Nan Parati, will create custom signs in all 12 exhibits at JAMNOLA.
Along with the new temporary festival-themed additions, JAMNOLA regularly updates its exhibits each season.
Some of these new updates include “sound symbols” playing tunes from the Roots of Music Marching Band, a “sound wave super bloom” featuring more than 500 records melted to create a flower wall and the “Mermaids of the Mississippi” serving as a depiction of the book “Mermaids of New Orleans” by author Sally Asher.
“We want them to take away the importance of music in New Orleans, the importance of the art community and that they’re all still giving it joy,” Liss said.
One permanent must-see exhibit at JAMNOLA, called “Garden of Legends,” pays tribute to New Orleans music legends, past and present. In the room, iconic local musicians become immortalized as sculptures. Irma Thomas, Lil Wayne, Louis Armstrong, Big Freedia and Dr. John are among some of the figures in the exhibit.
And it’s all backed by a local soundtrack — a playlist curated by legendary musician George Porter Jr., best known as bassist for The Meters. Porter puts together a curated festival playlist of live recordings from some of the best local musicians inside JAMNOLA.
While this event brings together some of those elements missing from your typical trip to the Fair Grounds, Liss said he’s definitely ready to experience the real deal this fall.
“I’m eagerly awaiting festivals to come back,” Liss said. “I absolutely understand why Jazz Fest can’t happen right now but not could be more excited that we have the greatest October coming to this city.”
While JAMFest is free and open to the public to attend, there is a general admission fee to view exhibits inside JAMNOLA. General admission tickets are $29 for adults and $20 for children. Kids ages 2 & under are free. Tickets can be purchased online at www.jamnola.com.
Ticket reservations are required; no walk-ins. Tours are limited to eight guests at a time to ensure proper social distancing, with masks and temperature checks required upon entry.
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