May 4 isn’t just the day before Cinco De Mayo, it’s 504 Day, a reference not only to the date but to the New Orleans area code.
But here, with our own festival season in full swing, we’ve yet to have a 504 Day celebration… until now.
“Too often in New Orleans’ history, she is known as the city you go to to celebrate, and there hasn’t been a festival dedicated to New Orleans,” said Ariana Newman, the founder of 504 Day. “There hasn’t been a festival dedicated to New Orleans, its culture, history, music, and food, that’s free and open to the public that isn’t just based on one particular area of New Orleans.”
The fest will combine local DJ’s and performers with discussions about life in the city and culture. There will also be activities for kids, including two books being read aloud by local authors Jared Green and Keione Vance, and face painting.
The forums will include the history of the city from 1718-2005, a presentation on Asian American history within the city, an appearance by Pelicans point guard Elfrid Payton and more.
Newman said it was important to use local talent at the festival.
“Every contributor is from New Orleans,” she said. “That’s the whole point, to keep the dollar in New Orleans, not hiring people that have headquarters in other places or any other artists that aren’t from the city.”
She added that she plans on the festival being an annual event.
“504 Day is supposed to ignite an appreciation of New Orleans and to decide to just celebrate it,” she said. “Sometimes we’re welcoming with our culture because it’s our identity and our moneymaker, which is not the same for every city.”
Newman said the forums and fellowship aim to start conversations, especially on the issues of culture and gentrification.
“Particularly in the black community, and I think we just need to find a middle ground,” she said. “It’s not going to solve the problem, but I want them to start a conversation. I think there’s enough red beans and rice for us all to share.”
What: 504 Day Fest
When: Sat. May 4, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Where: S. Claiborne Avenue and Thalia Street