The Gretna Heritage Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary with three days of food, festivities and music by Gregg Allman Band (pictured), Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and others. What originally was a one-day, local affair has grown to a weekend-long event filling 25 blocks of downtown Gretna and expected to draw more than 100,000 attendees.
"Just to be here 20 years later ... we never expected to be any bigger," says Ricky Templet, Jefferson Parish councilman and founder of the Gretna Economic Development Association, which created the festival. "The event's purpose, at the time, was to create a day of local community involvement; that has never changed."
The festival features six music stages, more than 100 craft and merchant booths, carnival rides and amusements and food areas. Food vendors include local restaurants, West Bank Carnival krewes and food trucks. The Italian Village offers Italian cuisine, wines, Moretti beer and its own music stage. The German Beer Garden serves sausages, pretzels, German beer, wine, schnapps and locally brewed beer from Covington's Heiner Brau.
There are more than 50 bands scheduled. Touring acts include Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Paul Rodgers of Bad Company. Also performing are The funky Meters, Amanda Shaw, Bonerama, Tank and the Bangas, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, the Brass-A-Holics, Cowboy Mouth and others.
"We've moved to another level this year," says Gretna Deputy Police Chief Anthony Christiana. "The economic impact alone is projected to be $1.7 to $1.8 million."
A portion of proceeds is donated to local nonprofit groups. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the gate, $47.50 weekend pass in advance.