New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Fairgrounds

Screenshot//Bayou St. John B&B










The Fair Grounds Race Course — as well as the
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival held there — have made Fairgrounds famous to those outside the Big Easy. For residents, there are many more reasons to love this NOLA neighborhood. From its laid-back residential streets to its boutique shops and local eateries, Fairgrounds has much to offer.  

A subdistrict of the Mid-City District Area, Fairgrounds sits directly east of City Park (go see those oak trees!). According to the City Planning Commission, Fairgrounds is bordered by Bayou St. John (the waterway) to the west, N Broad Street to the east, Esplanade Avenue to the south, and Florida Avenue to the north.

So you can gain a better understanding of life in Fairgrounds, let’s take a look at the past, present, and future of the neighborhood.

Fairgrounds History

Native Americans first arrived to what makes up present-day Fairgrounds via the Mississippi River and Bayou St. John. It’s said that the Houma people camped along the Bayou and settled here.

Europeans settled parts of Fairgrounds during the 1700s and early 1800s, and soon brought enslaved Africans. Over time, plantations were built sparingly across the swampy land, with rice and sugar as the favored crops.  

An exciting bit of history during the early 1800s is that a Haitian named “Dr. John”, the Father of New Orleans Voodoo, is believed to have lived and performed rituals in the area, along with his followers. This directly connects the Fairgrounds neighborhood to the development of Louisiana Voodoo.

Residential homes began being built in the 1830s, but a lot of housing development in Fairgrounds occurred between 1880 and 1930, with continued building up till today. This is why you’ll encounter all types of architectural styles here, from Acadian cottages to Mediterranean Revival villas to Flatiron-style buildings.

Fairgrounds Today

An economically and racially diverse neighborhood, Fairgrounds’ continued development, relative affordability, and central location have created a bustling community today.

Landmarks like Fair Grounds and Saint Louis Cemetery No. 3 certainly bolster its name recognition, but Fairgrounds truly delights with its old-fashioned New Orleans charm and close-knit atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where neighbors know each other by name.

Within the neighborhood, pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets make exploring and enjoying the neighborhood a breeze. Additionally, major attractions in the Big Easy, like the French Quarter and New Orleans Museum of Art, are right beyond Fairgrounds’ borders.

Landmarks and Events

Fairgrounds has numerous famous locations to visit and events to attend, including:

Cafes, Restaurants, and Bars

The bulk of Fairgrounds’ eateries and bars dot Esplanade Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard. Notable establishments include:

  • Liuzza’s by the Track: A casual Creole tavern famous for its signature shrimp BBQ po’ boys.
  • Lola’s: Enjoy authentic Spanish food that’s been infused with flavors from local Creole cuisine.
  • Cafe Degas: A quaint spot for tasty French fare.

Indeed, Fairgrounds is a unique and amazing place to be. Look for the neighborhood to continue its growth in popularity in the coming years — as it has all the ingredients you could need.

Check out the rest of my neighborhood series to learn about other great areas in New Orleans.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Fairgrounds

French Quarter Festival 2016

Source: French Quarter Fests, Inc.
Source: French Quarter Fests, Inc.

The French Quarter Festival (a/k/a the biggest free music festival in the South) is back this April 7-10. With over 200 hours of music across 23 stages, the French Quarter will be alive with music even more than it usually is.

The four-day festival packs in over 400 acts in its 33rd year. The traditional spread of NOLA sounds, from traditional jazz to funk to the undefinable, will take the stage this time around. Of course, it wouldn’t be New Orleans without over 60 food and beverage booths to satisfy your hunger and thirst pangs.

This year’s lineup includes:

Thursday, April 7

  • Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band
  • Cha Wa
  • Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra
  • Ellis Marsalis
  • Fredy Omar con su Banda
  • The Joe Krown Trio
  • John Boutte
  • Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers
  • The Revelers
  • The Tin Men

Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band
  • The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
  • Hot 8 Brass Band
  • Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans
  • James Andrews
  • Leroy Jones’ Original Hurricane Brass Band
  • Leroy Thomas & the Zydeco Roadrunners
  • Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington and the Roadmasters
  • Waylon Thibodeaux Band

Saturday, April 9, 2016

  • Big Chief Bo Dollis, Jr. & the Wild Magnolias
  • Big Sam’s Funky Nation
  • Casa Samba Extravaganza
  • Charmaine Neville
  • Flow Tribe
  • Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue
  • Little Freddie King
  • Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns
  • New Breed Brass Band
  • New Orleans Classic Jazz Orchestra
  • The New Orleans Jazz Vipers
  • Tank and The Bangas

Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Brass-A-Holics
  • Chegadão
  • Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
  • Goat in the Road (Comedy Troupe)
  • Guitar Slim, Jr.
  • Guitarist John Rankin
  • Los Po-Boy-Citos
  • The Original Pinettes Brass Band
  • Rockin’ Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters
  • Shannon Powell Traditional All-Star Band
  • Treme Brass Band

So come on out and see the diverse spirit and sounds of this great city! For more on the festival, take a look at this video from Go NOLA.

French Quarter Festival 2016