The forecast for Family Gras 2019 was a 70% chance of rain with a 100% chance of family, food, music and fun. Family Gras, an event presented by the Jefferson Convention & Visitors Bureau, celebrated its 12th year and not even the weather could rain on its parade.
The free music festival and parade-watching bash was a success at its new location, the Clearview Center. This year was the biggest crowd Family Gras has ever seen. Previously the family-oriented music festival was located on the neutral ground in front of Lakeside Mall near the iconic Blue Dog statue.
The Jam-Packed Line-Up
In previous years, Family Gras has had headliners such as Fifth Harmony, Tony Orlando, Zac Brown Band, the Beach Boys, and much more grace their stage. After last year’s rainout, Grammy award winner Michael McDonald and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer John Oates returned to Jefferson Parish’s Family Gras along with country superstar, Brett Eldredge! Lots of local and national music acts were jam-packed into the weekend-long schedule.
Friday, February 22
Friday afternoon kicked off under blue skies with a local pop-punk band, Neutral Snap, who performed an original song titled “Yellow Suitcase” along with covers of songs like “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore and “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees. They were followed by Holy Knives who performed covers by legends such as Aretha Franklin and The Rolling Stones. Before the Krewe of Excalibur rolled through, national headliner John Oates (aka one half of the duo Hall & Oates) hit the stage. Oates performed the 1975 smash hit, “She’s Gone” along with other tracks from his latest solo project, Arkansas. After the parade rolled through, the night ended with Grammy Award winner B.J. Thomas.
Saturday, February 23
Saturdaybegan with none other than The Imagination Movers who had the kids jumping up, getting down, standing up, and turning around! They were followed by a local dance band, Arrhythmia. Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, The Righteous Brothers, hit the stage and let me just say, seeing “Unchained Melody” live was probably one of the highlights of my entire weekend. Before Caesar rolled through, Grammy award winner Michael McDonald hit the stage to try and beat out the rain. He had the crowd singing along to hits like “I Keep Forgettin (Every Time You’re Near)”, “I Gotta Try”, and “Wee Wee Hours.” He also did a mini Motown tribute with covers of artists like Marvin Gaye!
Unfortunately, the bad weather shortened the Caesar parade route but there were still a number of people (including myself) who bared the bad weather and caught the parade!
Sunday, February 24
Sunday’s roster started off with local singer & songwriter, Jenna Hunts. After Hunts hit the stage, a local Christian band called Perfect Love performed for fest-goers. They performed original songs as well as covers by artists like Louisiana’s own Lauren Daigle. They were followed by the Creole String Beans who gave the crowd a true Louisiana performance with Fats Domino covers and the “Mardi Gras Mambo.” They embodied true Louisiana artists in every way. The Gatlin Brothers hit the stage before Brett Eldredge. They thanked our veterans, told stories about artists like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, and cracked a few jokes. Closing out Family Gras 2019 was none other than Mr. Brett Eldredge. From covering Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You to opening up to the crowd about the loss of his grandmother to throwing beads to fans, Brett truly put on a show and was a real class act. Fans definitely got the full Brett Eldredge experience with an almost hour & a half set!
More Than Just Music
There is more to Family Gras than just music. It’s truly a festival for the whole family. If you weren’t catching the music acts at Family Gras, then you had an array of other things to do.
- The Art Market: Where local vendors were selling hand-made jewelry, Mardi Gras apparel, original artwork, and more.
- The Flambeau Food Court: If you’re a foodie, Family Gras had various food options from local restaurants. Some of the dishes being sold included seafood nachos, crab legs, tamales, fried pickles, chicken wings, and Cajun burgers. And if you had a sweet tooth, there were treats such as personal king cakes, funnel cakes, fried Oreos, and frozen yogurt!
- The Kid’s Court: For kids 12 and under, they had various activities such as interactive games, face painting, and more.
- Mardi Gras Parades: Unlike past years, Family Gras incorporated this weekend’s Metairie parades (Excalibur, Caesar, and Kings) to roll through the middle of Family Gras either at the beginning or end of their route!
- The Sponsors: Fans had a chance to enter to win a chance to meet Brett Eldredge from iHeartRadio’s 101.1 WNOE on Sunday. Jefferson Financial had a free, interactive photo booth for attendees to take pictures in.
I loved the new venue! Having Family Gras at the Clearview Center allowed for a bigger stage, a bigger viewing area (for both VIP and GA), more room for vendors, more convenient parking, and the ability to have the parade come right through the festival! It was better in basically every aspect.
Also, I’m glad they were able to bring back Michael McDonald and John Oates after last year’s fest rained out. Next year, I’m hoping to see a bit more variety in the line-up like in previous years where Sunday’s headliner was a popular country artist, Saturdays’ was a popular pop artist, and Friday’s was a popular older, hall of fame type artist!
Besides that, I had a great time. My favorite performances were the Creole String Beans, Michael McDonald, Neutral Snap, Brett Eldredge, and Perfect Love! My favorite parts of the festival were the free Jefferson Financial photo booth and the fact fans had the chance to win a meet & greet with their favorite artists (and of course, the delicious food)!
Want to re-live Family Gras weekend? Check out my Family Gras Instagram Highlight to watch clips from the shows along with the photo gallery below.