New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Friday the Essence Music Festival “may be the most important event the people of this city are involved in.”
“What started off as a small music festival,” Landrieu told TIME, “has now turned into a huge economic engine for this city over a weekend that otherwise wouldn’t have filled up the city.”
Over the past 20 years, big names from Beyoncé to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have drawn massive crowds to the “party with a purpose,” which has become the largest African American music festival in the U.S. Essence is owned by TIME parent company Time Inc.
At a press conference on Friday, Landrieu said the financial impact of the 400,000 people expected to pass through New Orleans over the weekend is “in some instances, incalculable.” Last year, the event brought over a half-million people to the city, generating about $200 million…
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