Following Freret

A festival showcasing a vibrant neighborhood

Not so long ago, there was limited commercial activity along a stretch of Uptown New Orleans known as Freret Street between Napoleon and Jefferson avenues. Once a booming business and residential district filled with Italian and Jewish merchants and even a streetcar line in the 1920s and 1930s, the effects of white flight began to impact the community in the 1950s and continued to do so as the flood waters of Katrina arrived.

After those waters receded, a group of committed business owners founded the Freret Business & Property Owners Association and started the monthly Freret Market in 2007. From there, a restaurant and business boom began and the commercial life of Freret Street grew faster than anyone anticipated.

Today, there are more than 70 thriving businesses, most of them small and locally owned, located in this walkable neighborhood. Even those harbingers of gentrification – condominiums and Starbucks– have appeared. This weekend the annual Freret Street Festival celebrates those successes and keeps the positive economic impact going.

On Saturday, April 2 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Freret Street will be filled from Napoleon Avenue to Valmont Street with 200 local vendors, three music stages, a food court at every intersection, a kids’ activity area, and even pet adoptions. The businesses located along the street will also be open with special offers and in-store events.

The Freret Street Festival is part of the monthly Market series and the participating vendors, both retail and food, are easy to find using the Market’s Vendor List. You can sort the list by category to browse the types of purchases you might want to make and the cuisine you may want to eat. Don’t plan too much though, because walking the length of the street will bring you the best experience. And the map isn’t that detailed anyway. Just don’t miss Ice Cream 504, which specializes in the homemade ice cream that originated on back porches on summer nights, long before the word artisanal became common.

Parking will be tricky, so plan to ride bikes, use public transportation or employ a car service. Busses servicing the area include the No. 15 Freret bus line, No. 28 Martin Luther King bus line and the No. 16 Claiborne bus line with a five block walk down to Freret. The St. Charles Ave. streetcar line will also work, with a longer walk of nine blocks up to Freret.

The three stages bring eclectic music to the festival. Be sure to catch the Jon Cleary Band with Walter Wolfman Washington at 2:30 p.m. on the Ochsner Baptist Stage. Chawa at 3:30 p.m. on the Alder Hotel Stage will be another great show.


Here’s the full lineup:

Ochsner Baptist Stage – Napoleon Avenue
11:40 a.m.-12:40 a.m.—Kumasi
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.—Margie Perez
2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m.—Jon Cleary Band with Walter Wolfman Washington
4:15 p.m.-4:45 p.m.—N’fungola Sibo
5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.—The Caesar Brothers’ Funk Box


Alder Hotel Stage – Valence Street
11:25 a.m.-12:25 a.m.—Ayotemi
12:55 p.m.-1:55 p.m.—Michot Melody Makers
2:10 p.m.-3:10 p.m.—Amanda Ducorbier
3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.—Chawa
4:30 p.m.-4:45 p.m.—NOLA Capoeira
5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.—Motel Radio


Dat Dog Stage – Soniat Street
11:00 a.m.-11:35 a.m.—Marc Stone
11:55 a.m.-12:55 p.m.—Organized Crime
1:10 p.m.-2:10 p.m.—Mainline
2:25 p.m.-2:55 p.m.—Nairobi Youth
3:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m.—Sexy Dex & The Fresh
4:45 p.m.-6:00 p.m.—Mike Dillon Band



Categories: Tourism Biz