Music and art will take over Freret Street for fest on Saturday

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Sabree Hill, Uptown Messenger file photo

Gretchen Heldner and Meredith Crum dance at the 2011 Freret St. Festival.

On Saturday (March 26), the Freret Street Festival will help kick off the return of festival season in New Orleans.

The  seven-block street party features live music on three stages (see the lineup below), a food court featuring top local chefs (with picnic seating at every intersection), more than 200 arts and crafts vendors, a kids’ area, and slightly used but immensely adorable dogs and cats up for adoption.


There’s no admission charge for the festival, which can be found along Freret between Napoleon Avenue and Valmont Street. Free parking is available in a nearby lot on the corner of Magnolia and Cadiz streets.

The festival can also be reached by public transit. Both the Freret 15 bus and Napoleon 24 bus will drop you off right at the festival site. Or you can take the St. Charles streetcar and walk the eight or so blocks or transfer to the Napoleon 24 bus. The Claiborne 16 bus will get you a few blocks away.

The National Weather Service forecast for Saturday, as of Thursday morning, showed a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m. It is predicting mostly cloudy skies, with a high near 79 and southeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

The annual festival, generally held on the first Saturday in April, is sponsored by the Freret Street Market. It’s an expansion of the open-air art and flea market, with live music and food vendors, held on the first Saturday of every month except June, July and August.

Freret Street Festival began in 1998 to celebrate and promote the neighborhood; the Freret Market followed in 2007 as a means of bringing shoppers as well as prospective businesses and homeowners into the Freret corridor, as many neighborhoods were struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaks.

Local property developer Greg Ensslen and Zeus’ Rescues founder Michelle Ingram established Market Festivals to produce both events. Earlier this year, the market and festival were acquired by the Rotary Club of New Orleans Riverbend, which has long staffed the beer concessions at Freret Fest.

In a Feb. 8 press release on the change, Rotary Club President Peter Alongia said, “Freret Market and Freret Street Festival are enormous community resources, and Rotary is thrilled to be able to fulfill its mission of supporting local economies by running the market and festival.”

Here’s this year’s music lineup:

Ochsner Baptist Stage (Napoleon Avenue)

11:00 am-11:30 am Loyola Band Contest Runner-Up
12:10 pm-12:40 pm N’Fungola Sibo
12:50 pm-1:50 pm Marigny Street Brass Band
2:10 pm-2:55 pm Debauche
2:55 pm-3:10 pm Dance performance by NOLA Capoeira
3:25 pm-4:25 pm Where Y’acht!
4:45 pm-6:00 pm Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers

Alder Hotel Stage (Valence Street)

11:30 am-12:00 am Loyola Band Contest Runner-Up
12:25 am-1:05 am Noah Young Band
1:25 pm-2:10 pm Valerie Sassyfrass
2:30 pm-3:15 pm J & The Causeways
3:35 pm-4:20 pm The Doctors (Loyola Band Contest Winner)
4:20 pm-4:35 pm Dance performance by NOLA Capoeira
4:50 pm-6:00 pm Little Freddie King with special guests from Naughty Professor

Dat Dog Stage (Soniat Street)

11:35 am-12:35 am Waterseed
12:55 am-11:25 pm Nairobi Youth
1:35 pm-2:20 pm Bill Summers & Jazsaslsa
2:40 pm-3:25 pm Jamie Lynn Vessels
3:40 pm-4:40 pm Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
5:00 pm-6:00 pm Jamaican Me Breakfast Club

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