Huge Crowds At New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Raise Safety Concerns

NEW ORLEANS (CelebrityAccess) — Huge crowds at the closing weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival sparked criticism that the festival may have been oversold.

According to the New Orleans Advocate, camera shots of the crowd during Elton John’s set on the Acura Stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival showed that the audience filled the entire area to the back fence and spilled into tracks that are typically used for foot traffic.

“This can only occur when the promoter oversells an event and public safety officials fail to, or are incapable of, stopping the over crowding influx of people,” Paul Wertheimer, founder of Crowd Management Strategies, a Los Angeles-based international crowd safety consulting service told the advocate.

According to Wertheimer, festival seating represents “the most deadly and injurious crowd configuration in live entertainment.

The crowding issues may be connected to the festival's ticket sale policies, which allow customer to purchase tickets that can be used for any of the seven days of the event instead of being for a specific day.

Another factor in the crowding issues appeared to stem from the use of blankets and lawn chairs by festival goers in areas that were designated as standing-room-only, which impeded foot traffic.

In a statement on the crowds given to he Advocate, festival organizers said that they did implement a standing room only policy on the track for the Acura stage but conceded that audience compliance with the policy may have been lacking. Producers said that they plan to maintain the policy going forward and they are “completely confident the new standing-room-only area will become the norm, as it is best for the overall Festival experience.” – Staff Writers

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