Looking forward to some free music

Published 8:42 am Friday, May 8, 2015

I was unable to go to either weekend of the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans.

The Jazz Festival concluded last weekend at the Fair Grounds with its usual array of world-class talent on display for all to see and hear.

Apparently it’s been quite a while since my last trek to Jazz Fest. If I remember correctly, the last time I went tickets were something like $25. Advance tickets to this year’s Festival were $58, and $70 at the gate.

I guess you can mark the rise in ticket prices on inflation. That’s tough on some people’s pocketbooks.

The 2015 Festival drew approximately 460,000 fans, the biggest crowd since Hurricane Katrina rolled through in 2005. The 460,000 fans who attended were some 25,000 over the 2014 attendance.

This week I’m letting the music come to me.

The Bogalusa Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 27th annual Festival in the Park at Cassidy Park. No exorbitant prices here since it’s all free, including parking. The Festival in the Park begins today and runs through Sunday. Festivities conclude at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Chamber of Commerce Director Marilyn Bateman’s office phone rang constantly one day earlier this week when I visited the office for an interview concerning the event.

This will be my first Festival in the Park experience since we moved to Bogalusa last June, so I’m excited to see what’s in store.

Along with the musical lineup, there seems to be a little bit for everybody’s taste. There’s arts and crafts, food vendors, children’s games, a petting zoo, pageants and duck races. I think Burt Fleming’s demonstration with his unique chainsaw carving will be something to see. Fleming is from Zachary, and I’ve heard he is really something to see with a chainsaw in his hands. I wonder if earplugs will be available during his demonstration. Probably not, so be prepared just in case.

I’m a regular viewer of NBC’s “The Voice.” Two contestants from that show are appearing at Festival in the Park. Deshawn Washington appears Saturday and Sunday, while Sarah Buras, whose stage name is “Serabee,” is scheduled to close the festivities on Sunday. On Saturday, Washington plays from about 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. He is scheduled to perform on Sunday from about 1-1:30 p.m. Serabee plays from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. on Sunday.

R&B singer Charles Wilson was added to the musical lineup just this past Tuesday.

Noted bluesman Thomas “Gitlo” Lee starts the music off tonight at 6 p.m. He is followed by Baton Rouge native Ryan Alan.

It’s a variety of musical tastes on Saturday and Sunday, including Gospel group Right Direction, which plays on Sunday from 2-3:15 p.m.

The Festival in the Park offers a little something for everybody at more than reasonable prices. Invite your friends and get out and enjoy. There’s no reason anybody should miss out.

Randy Hammons is a staff writer with the Daily News. He can be reached by calling 985-732-2565 or by email at randy.hammons@thebogalusadailynews.com.