Fair Grounds clubhouse can be seen behind the Jazz Fest crowd.
Every Spring as soon as the race meet concludes, Fair Grounds racetrack is invaded by preparations for the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. One might think that working in the LTBA office during Jazz Fest is one big party. There are perks, but working through is a bit of a challenge. �People are clamoring to come in. We �have� to come in,� says Roger Heitzmann, LTBA Secretary/Treasurer, with a chuckle.
Even before the first day of the fest arrives, LTBA employees are running an obstacle course. Instead of racehorses, office staff is dodging golf carts which speed out between barns without a glance. Once the festival actually begins, the first obstacle is actually getting to the Breeders trailer. Traffic backs up on the usually sleepy Belfort street from the gate to Gentilly. An extra 20 minutes can easily be added to the time to get to work. Errands such as running to the post office or bank are best done either after hours, or on days when music is not blaring from the stages. And the office is not accessible to anybody wishing to come in for official business.
Once in the office, it is entertaining to watch the parade of characters passing by. The dress code is mis-matched prints in every color of the rainbow and hats with more embellishments than the wildest Kentucky Derby chapeau. Rather than horsemen coming in the office with papers, lost volunteers stop in asking where they need to go. A sign in the bathroom states �Please help us keep our bathroom clean (or you will be fed to the scary critters residing in the dark, deep recesses beneath our trailer…And your don�t want that!!!)�
The LTBA trailer is situated nearest to the Congo Stage. On the first Friday of the 2015 fest, the closing act on this stage will be Jimmy Cliff with his mellow reggae. Unfortunately, during the day the office staff works through the pounding bass beat of rap and hip hop artists. Heitzmann, when asked about which stage he would prefer to provide the soundtrack for his day, replied apologetically, � I don�t know, because I don�t know who appears on any stage. I�ve reached a point in my life when I prefer reserved seats.� The rest of the staff is in agreement that they would move the trailer to either the Acura or Gentilly stages.
By far the largest perk of working on the Fair Grounds during Jazz Fest is the convenience of having access to the best food in the state, all in one place…crawfish in any form you can imagine…cochon de lait po-boys…duck and andoullie gumbo…..white chocolate bread pudding, etc. � I can get Prejeans� crawfish enchiladas without having to drive to Carenco.� says Heitzmann with grin.
The racetrack has been re-purposed as a walkway for festival goers.