Last year, marred by heavy rains, the festival drew just 346,000, losing money for the first time in decades. This year's event had mostly good weather; a thunderstorm delayed the April 20 program, but no events were canceled.
Accounting has not been completed, but organizers expect to turn a profit.
The festival enjoyed its largest attendance in 2001, with about 600,000 visitors. But producer Quint Davis said that in some ways, a slightly smaller turnout was preferable. "It didn't have that overstuffed feeling [this year]," he said. "That's something we want to get away from. It was big, super successful, but not bulging at the seams as it has some times in the past."
The festival, created in 1970 by George Wein, has become one of the city's signature events. It brings hundreds of acts to the New Orleans Fairgrounds and to clubs all over the city, and includes brass bands, blues, pop, zydeco, world music, gospel, folk, and country music as well as jazz.
Highlights of this year's festival included tributes to John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, and Doc Cheatham.
Among the jazz performers on the schedule were vocalists Shirley Horn and Madeleine Peyroux; trumpeter Nicholas Payton; and saxophonists James Carter, Donald Harrison, Benny Golson, and Ravi Coltrane, as well as such local favorites as pianist Ellis Marsalis, trumpeter Kermit Ruffin, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.