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On Assignment week of April 18: Earth Day and French Quarter Fest

Earth Day

Earth Day is this Friday, April 22, so it’s time to celebrate. Kick things off at New Orleans City Park. In addition to historic trees, blooming flowers and plenty of flora and fauna galore, New Orleans Botanical Garden will have eco-demonstrations and educational presentations, live music and food and mojitos(!) available for purchase on Wednesday evening. Admission is free for Louisiana residents.

Audubon’s Party for the Planet presented by Entergy is always a fun time. Held at the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, you’re only a few minutes away from downtown, although it feels like you are a world away. The Nature Center is tucked into a hardwood forest next to Joe Brown Park in New Orleans East, and has boardwalks, trails and an informative nature center with lots of interesting displays. This Saturday’s Party for the Planet will kick off a series of events and features an array of activities and information. It is free and open to the public.

The St. Roch Market on St. Claude Avenue will also be hosting a special Earth Day recycling challenge event this Friday and Saturday, with food, live music, a unique fashion show inspired by paper hat creations from the Milliner’s Association of Nigeria, glass recycling and more. Get inspired while supporting local artists and food vendors.

Go West this Weekend

I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of Westwego, the quaint West Bank hamlet located just a quick ride across the Huey P. Long Bridge. A walk down historic Sala Avenue is like going back in time (in the best way), and a tour of the Westwego Historical Museum offers a picturesque glimpse of the history of life on the West Bank, from catastrophic hurricanes to a thriving fishing village.

A visit to the Josh Wingerter Art Center jumps you forward with both feet, featuring the self-proclaimed “pop art scientist,” an out-of-this-world colorful collection of his art, and a gallery space that is open to the public each weekend, with events, art classes and more held periodically throughout the year. Wingerter, a Westwego native whose work has been embraced both at home and internationally, works to share his vision and provides artistic inspiration to the town, gives back with partnerships at local schools and encourages everyone to explore their own inner artist.

A visit to Westwego wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the iconic Shrimp Lot, an open air seafood market with vendors providing the freshest fish, crabs, shrimp and more. Pick up some soft-shell crabs and oysters to take home for a weekend feast.

Other attractions include the Westwego Farmers and Fisheries Market, and the Teatro Wego! Theatre (managed by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society – featuring the upcoming thriller “Deathtrap” this May.) And, if you can’t make it this weekend, be sure to head on over Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1 for Westwego Fest, which will feature food trucks, craft vendors, live music from Amanda Shaw, Shamarr Allen and more.

French Quarter Festing

If all of these spring activities wasn’t enough, one of New Orleans’ best fests, the beloved French Quarter Fest, kicks off this Thursday with an opening parade followed by a jam-packed weekend of free live music. Whet your whistle with a variety of beverages (Abita beers, French Market iced coffee, Luzianne iced tea, wine, bloody Mary’s and more) and tame your appetite with food from “A” (Addis NOLA) to “W”WOZ (Mango Freeze) while soaking up the music and joie de vivre of the Vieux Carré.

I’m already exhausted, in the very best way. Now, what’s next?

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