Jazz Fest marks Cinco de Mayo in New Orleans

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival served up margaritas and other Latin fare Saturday as it recognized Cinco de Mayo with a lineup peppered with acts such as Mexican singer Paulina Rubio.

Jazz Fest also gave fans a taste of the traditional with music by Allen Toussaint, Anders Osborne and John Boutte.

A steady flow of people filled the Fair Grounds Race Course for the festival, which runs through Sunday.

Toussaint, wearing a colorful red, yellow, green and black jacket, had the crowds camped in front of the Acura Stage — the festival's largest — on their feet enjoying his music. Irma Thomas and the Eagles would follow his performance later in the day.

The festival also continued to give fans a taste of the new as early acts took the stage like New Orleans artist Tarriona "Tank" Ball and the BlackStar Bangas. She had a sparse group in the field fronting Congo Square on their feet, waving their arms, cheering and dancing as she performed an eclectic show including rap, poetry and singing.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexican heritage and pride, the festival sought Rubio and others including Rumba Buena and The Pedrito Martinez Group.

New Orleans residents Susan Ranheim and her husband, Steve Salm, planned to spend the weekend roaming the festival grounds.

"Roaming is the best way to experience Jazz Fest," Ranheim said. "We just stop when we find something we like listening to."

The couple said they don't like bringing chairs or anything that will bog them down.

"We don't want to be stuck with anything except each other," Ranheim said.

Under one of the music tents, fest-goers hoisted colorful umbrellas up and down as a jazz band played "When the Saints Go Marching In." On a nearby stage with musical acts geared for children, a New Orleans school jazz ensemble performed "Soul Man" as kids in the audience danced and clapped to the beat of the music.

All weekend long, children will be able to participate in arts and crafts projects such as decorating hand-held fans and sashes with feathers, beads and sparkly sequins. Some also decorated picture frames with red beans and rice.

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Associated Press writer Chevel Johnson contributed to this report.

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