The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest, one of the largest annual gatherings of music and entertainment in the South, has been canceled for the second consecutive year.
With the Delta variant causing a huge surge of coronavirus cases in Louisiana, organizers felt there was no option to continue with this year’s festival, slated for October 8-17.
Artists scheduled to perform included the Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks, Lizzo, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Buffett, Elvis Costello, and dozens more.
“As a result of the current exponential growth of new COVID cases in New Orleans and the region, and the ongoing public health emergency, we must sadly announce that the 2021 edition of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will not occur as planned,” organizers announced on the site’s Twitter account.
Ticket holders will receive an email this week explaining the refund and rollover process. Many of this year’s ticket holders had rolled over their purchases from 2020, when the event was postponed at the start of the pandemic.
Beau Tidwell, a spokesperson for Mayor LaToya Cantrell, called the cancellation appropriate but disappointing.
“We believe that the Jazz Fest organizers made the right call, heartbreaking though it is,” Tidwell told NOLA.com. “The Delta variant has created an extremely dangerous environment.”
Over the past week, Louisiana has had the highest number of per capita coronavirus cases not only in the United States but in the world, Mother Jones reported.
“If Louisiana and Florida were countries, and not states, Louisiana would be the highest incidence country in the world and Florida would be the fourth one,” epidemiologist Michael Osterholm said.
Louisiana has just 37 percent of its population vaccinated, the fifth-worst total in the country. Governor John Bel Edwards last Monday re-instituted an indoor mask mandate but delivered grim news later in the week.
“Things are, if anything, worse today than they were on Monday,” the Governor said Friday. “Unfortunately, the eyes of the nation are on Louisiana right now.”
Jazz Fest organizers felt the situation was bad enough to move ahead and cancel two months ahead of the event rather than string along performers, spectators, and local businesses.
“It’s a huge disappointment for everyone, not only for locals but for the tourist industry, for travelers looking forward to Jazz Fest, and for the economy and our employees,” said Mavis Early, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association. “Plenty of our hotels were already fully booked for Jazz Fest.”
Organizers are now looking ahead to the 2022 edition, which is slated to return to its normal spring spot on the calendar. Next year’s dates are April 29-May 8.
“In the meantime, we urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials so that we can soon experience the joy that is the Jazz Fest,” they said.