NEW ORLEANS— After 3 years, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival returns for the next two weekends at The Fairgrounds.

With only a few days left before this year’s Jazz Fest begins, WGNO met with festival producer Quint Davis to talk about the long layoff and what to expect this year. Davis was there over 50 years ago at the first fest and helped to grow it to our largest fest under the George Wein and he’s heard the desires of fans of the fest since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to Davis, “People want their jazz fest back. They want to be at Jazz Fest. I think Mardi Gras was like that. More than any particular parade, they wanted their Mardi Gras back, and I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen here. It’s like a pilgrimage.”

One highlight happening this year is remembrance of some the icons of the festival with musical tributes and jazz funerals, and a permanent spot among the ancestors in Congo Square.

“Over these 3 years we’ve lost a lot of people. We’ve lost Dr John, we’ve lost Ellis Marsalis, we’ve lost Art Neville, of course we lost George Wein. These things are woven into the fabric of our lives,” said Davis.

The building of the festival will happen up until showtime, and for Davis its the fans that make this all possible every year, “What I’m looking forward to and what’s most important and that’s the gates opening that’ll be the whole thing for me. Because this thing is a living entity, this festival, and you see it right now and it’s built, but it’s empty. And it only come to life with people. The people of New Orleans come in here and make it be what it is.”