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New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, often known as Jazz Fest, is an annual celebration of the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana.

The Festival has been held yearly since 1970 when it was founded by George Wein; similar "New Orleans Jazz Festival"s were held by different organizers in the 1960s. The first two festivals were held at the City's Municipal Auditorium and adjoining Congo Square. More recent festivals have been held at the New Orleans Fairgrounds, a venue whose main other use is for horse racing.

According to the Jazz Fest website, "The Festival celebrates the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, so the music encompasses every style associated with the city and the state: blues, R&B, gospel music, Cajun music, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk music, Latin, rock, rap music, country music, bluegrass and everything in between. And of course there is lots of jazz, both contemporary and traditional."[1]

The Festival also features vendors with local foods and crafts. In addition to the performance stages, there is an interview stage where Festival goes can hear musicians being interviewed. There are also exhibits of crafts and photography related to local music and culture.

It is currently held during the day at the Fairgrounds on two weekends, the last in April (from Friday through Sunday) and the first weekend in May (from Thursday through Sunday). On a few occasions, severe rainstorms have closed individual days of the festival. In addition to the Fairgrounds events, the Festival also holds various night concerts at other venues. The festival is a major tourism destination, with an importance for New Orleans only rivaled by New Orleans Mardi Gras. In addition to the official Jazz Fest events, many other music events take place around the city than usual during Jazz Fest and the week in between the two weekends.

Early Jazz Fests featured almost exclusively local acts; as the Festival grew more nationally known acts were scheduled in addition to local performers.

Prominent closing acts include The Neville Brothers.

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