FQF started many years after the Jazz Fest, with none of the same intentions—that is, to preserve New Orleans and Louisiana music and culture. It was a relatively small event planned by then-mayor Dutch Morial in an attempt to attract locals back to the Quarter. Sidewalk and many street improvements for the 1984 World’s Fair had prevented almost everyone from visiting our beautiful Vieux Carré. The festival was an attempt to showcase the Quarter again. From there, FQF grew over the years to become an annual event—a true music and culture festival—that’s grown from a tiny event in 1985 to attracting well over a half-million festival-goers in 2016.
While FQF has been a favorite of locals over the years (its free admission, local bands and stellar food guarantee that), it’s now become popular worldwide and is bringing in more and more people from all over the U.S. and the world. This can do nothing but increase with the opening of New Orleans to international markets via new direct flights from London and Frankfurt.
FQF was headed up for years by a very small staff led by Sandra Dartus (who retired after 20 years and then resurfaced to work on promoting FestiGals). The organization went through several directors until it settled on Marci Schramm, who recently left FQFI, the festival’s umbrella organization, to spend more time with her family and work with her husband’s business.
We’re proud to introduce you to the newest President and CEO of French Quarter Festivals, Emily Mitchell Madero. Madero was the CEO of the Idea Village for almost 10 years and recently organized the very-successful Entrepreneur Week. Madero is originally from Maine but went to Tulane and moved permanently to New Orleans in 1998.
“I made New Orleans my home because of the people: We dance to the beat of our own drum. New Orleans music, food and culture has inspired me. I loved working with the Idea Village because it’s focused on creating positive change in New Orleans. In a lot of ways, it parallels French Quarter Fest in that its purpose is to elevate and invest in our future. I see FQFI as being a conduit to investment in our culture makers. I’m excited about bringing my background in leading nonprofits to FQFI’s team that’s been so successful in building this great New Orleans event.”
We’re looking forward to great things from you, Ms. Madero!