This weekend, the community-organized Gentilly Fest returns for a fourth year of ambitiously tackling the myriad problems facing the historic New Orleans Neighborhood in the wake of not only Katrina, but also the more broad economic decline that has hit the Gentilly area particularly hard.
The Gentilly Fest began three years ago as a way to help our community help ourselves. We realized that our first responders did not have funds to adequately equip their facilities with furniture, office supplies and other general small office equipment… [It] also provides an opportunity for neighbors to come together and celebrate the community’s rich and resilient culture.
In addition to supplementing the shoestring budgets of the area’s police and fire departments and reacquainting neighbors still returning after recent diasporas, proceeds from the event help fund community arts and recreation programs such as the Pontchartrain Park and Milne Playground Sports Programs and the Louis Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp. This year’s lineup features not only local favorites like Kermit Ruffins, Treme-scene stealer Wanda Rouzan and Mike “The Soul Man” Batiste, but also hip hop living legend and original human beatbox Doug E. Fresh.
And as seems to be the case with New Orleans festivals large and small, the weekend’s food options are arguably just as much of a draw as the rest of the programming. Ms. Linda will be slinging Ya-Ka-Mein, Ms. Caldwell is bringing the Cane River Meat Pies, and McHardy’s is frying up the chicken (just to name a few of the over 15 food vendors who will be on site). The fairgrounds will also host a Kids Village and a craft market, as well as booths manned by local businesses and non-profits offering practical recovery information and literature.
Gentilly Fest 2011 will be held at the Pontchartrain Park Playground from 11AM – 7PM on Saturday October 1 and from 10AM – 6PM on Sunday, October 2. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is highly recommended.