If you felt somewhat overwhelmed by the huge crowds on Saturday at the 30th annual French Quarter Festival, it wasn’t just you. According to festival organizers, Saturday, April 13, had the largest single-day attendance in the event’s history: By their count, approximately 303,000 people were at the fest throughout the day, two-stepping, eating beef debris and truffle slaw po-boys, and jostling their way to the front of the stage.
Due to rain on the festival’s opening and closing days, however, the overall attendance numbers are actually down slightly from 2012. Total attendance over the festival’s four days, organizers said, topped off at 562,000 fans.
Although French Quarter Fest doesn’t sell tickets, it arrives at an estimated attendance via counts taken at the entry and exit points of major stages by Fess Security workers. Their method, which has been in use since 2004, adjusts to allow for repeat entries and exits. The total figure doesn’t include attendance at the stages on Royal, Chartres, Bourbon and Decatur streets, nor at the French Market or special events such as the battle of the bands and a concert at St. Louis Cathedral.
Another factor that goes into the estimate is the number of individual downloads of the official French Quarter Festival app for iPhone and Android; last weekend, approximately 16,000 smartphone users either got the app for the first time, or updated an already-downloaded version to the 2013 edition.