Belmont, California, residents John and Marie Morris know exactly what to do as soon as they land in New Orleans for French Quarter Festival.
“The first thing we do when we get out here is go to Walgreens and buy two chairs,” John Morris said. “And then when we’re done, we just give them away and head home.”
Marie Morris said they have made the trip to New Orleans for French Quarter Fest about 10 times in the last 20 years, sometimes bringing friends, but always staying at hotels in the French Quarter. And it all began almost by accident.
“We came one year a week after the fest, and there were still brochures out about it,” Marie Morris said. “We were talking to one of the band members at Fritzel’s, who was saying we really needed to come down for the fest, so the next year we did.”
John and Marie become fixtures at Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub on Bourbon Street every time they are in town, and they said they have developed favorites among the hundreds of musicians that perform every year.
John Morris said they were able to get up close to the stage when Amanda Shaw played a jazz festival in San Jose about 10 years ago, and they had a great conversation about New Orleans and French Quarter Fest.
The best and most memorable French Quarter Fest was the first year they returned after Hurricane Katrina struck, John Morris said.
“Post Katrina we came, and we were debating whether or not it was appropriate to come,” he said. “But the artists were very glad that we came, so that made us feel good. There really weren’t that many people out that year, but it’s been growing exponentially.”
Marie Morris said she always tries to sample as much local cuisine as possible during their time in New Orleans to support as many restaurants as possible, but that’s not the only perk to being in New Orleans.
“When they say we should support local businesses, I feel really good about buying Abita beer,” John Morris said.