Okay. NOW that Fest.

Paul and I have limited Jazz Fest experience, all of which has so far been tremendously excellent.

So why would we want to bring the kids and ruin a perfectly good record?

At least, this is what we thought.

But last Saturday, the first weekend of this year’s Fest, we couldn’t help but want to have the kids there.  The Imagination Movers were the first act up on the Acura Stage and a huge masse of their friends (read: our friends) were going to be there, too. 

We sucked it up and shelled out the extra $5 to bring them.

Thank goodness. It was awesome.

The awesomeness was not in small part to our incredible friends. No really, these people can do all sorts of mind-boggling things like have crew passes so that they can sneak in boxes of juice drinks and get in birthday cakes with their booth exhibition materials and simply just be so cool that they know all the local celebrities and yet aren’t embarrassed by us when we show up with our flies down. Because we are just that kind of classy.

We hung out before the gates opened with friends who live right outside the race tracks.  (Yet another example of cool.) Fate took over and somehow we all met at the stage perfectly, a huge hodge-podge of families and friends taking over with strollers. We wore the kids on our shoulders and danced around as if none of us had ever experienced back problems. (Probably because we managed to send someone out for frozen cafe au lait and rosemint tea before the music started).

We love Imagination Movers.

Message to parents who are suffering from a household full of The Wiggles or Ralph (or, heavens to Betsy, Barney!)… CHECK OUT THE IMAGINATION MOVERS.  You will thank me.

We hung out with an Imagination Mover spouse.  (A friend of our friend Kathryn, whose husband was the original “Warehouse Mouse” in early videos and who now does crew stuff for the band… the Movers gave a shout out birthday wish to her son during the performance… see what I mean about the coolness?) Years ago, Kathryn introduced me to her at a music performance at Tulane (a girls’ night from long, long ago).  Can you guess which Mover she’s married to?

I love people who understand the importance of accessories.

But I’m not giving anything away.

Nina, one of the cast members on their Playhouse Disney TV show, came by to say “hi.”

(I know.  I didn’t realize we were that cool, either.)

The kids loved it.  Despite the strong morning sun, Kate played a rattle and dutifully performed all moves as instructed.  Us parents had a few head scratching moments when they busted into “She Sells Sanctuary.” (Um… did they just play “The Cult?”)  And we all sang along to “In a Big Country,” their finale.

But Jazz Fest is about so much more than music.  The food.  Oh… the food.

Kate clearly understands that one should not delve into snowballs until so much mango freeze has been ingested that the skin starts to turn orange.

Her Jazz Fest food of choice was cochon du lait po’boy.  With the spicy coleslaw.  As if there would be any other.  (I promise I will get food pictures next time.)

We visited our friend Mark’s booth.

Mark made the tiles in our bathroom.  Each are handmade and exquiste in detail.

We spent the majority of the day in the kids’ area, meeting up with other families and taking turns watching kids to go on food runs and bathroom trips.  There is a children’s music tent and a variety of activity and craft tents — staffed by the nicest, warmest people.  The kids decorated fabric squares…

…and added them to the children’s Jazz Fest quilt.

We chilled in the kids’ tent for a few hours during the heat of the day (even spread out a blanket to lay down for a bit), and saw a variety of performances (puppets, drum band from Malawi, kids’ high school dance group).  Then, a washboard performer came up and got the kids involved.  Will not only got a washboard, but was deemed “Earl of Crawfish” (or something) for the story.

He was so into the washboard that he almost missed the second line going around the tent.

After the big dance around the room, the story kept going.  Kate is up posing with Will.  She played the tin can and then traded for a parasol for the parade.

Both kids passed out on the way to James Taylor.

Our friend Georgia graciously invited us to crash in their lawn space to listen to JT.  I was too antsy to sit (back was tired and sore) — even to one of my favorite vocalists.  So we took in a few songs and moved on.

In moving on, we caught part of Erykah Badu (sans Elmo) and Wilco.  We headed out about a half-hour before the official end of Jazz Fest and had no problems with traffic or crowds… successfully spending the entire day at Jazz Fest with the kids.  Wow.

But next time, we’re totally going solo.