The extremely popular music and art festival, Voodoo Fest, returns this year to City Park and is expected to be even bigger than last year’s celebration. There are plenty of ways to have the time of your life at Voodoo Fest, but there are a few things to avoid to keep a great night from turning ugly. Here are my top 5 reasons you are likely to get arrested at Voodoo Fest, along with a few tips on to avoid the mistakes.
#1 Contraband at Security And Gate Checks
Security is going to be really dense around all entrance areas. I’ve spoken to numerous law enforcement officers, deputies, and security personnel who have worked numerous festivals in the area, and their #1 goal is to keep certain things out of the park—illegal drugs, outside alcohol and weapons are at the top of the list. Do what you have to do before heading onto the festival grounds. Drugs and alcohol you have ingested are not per se illegal (though see #2 below), but the drugs and alcohol in the bag you re bringing into the festival are.
#2 Public Intoxication
As with any big New Orleans party, a certain amount of drunken revelry is expected and generally accepted by security and law enforcement. But know that not even the biggest party in the Big Easy gives anyone license to cross all lines of decency. It is a crime in New Orleans to be so intoxicated in public that you become a danger to yourself or to others. Every Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and Voodoo Fest, I represent dozens of people who have crossed that line, mostly entirely unintentionally. So buddy up at Voodoo, and keep an eye out for your friends. Be honest if you see someone you are with looking like they are crossing that line. Remember, better to hear from your friends that you need to chill, than to hear it from a cop in the back of a police car.
#3 Fighting and Disturbing the Peace
When thousands of people pack themselves in to small spaces as close to a music stage as possible, there are bound to be situations where tensions flare. People get bumped, pushed and pulled in ways that are sometimes uncomfortable. Without a concerted effort to diffuse a situation, these kinds of encounters can lead to a fight breaking out, and this will without a doubt get you kicked out of the festival at least, and more than likely arrested. If you are going to Voodoo Fest looking for a fight, do us all a favor and just stay home. If you find yourself at the fest and in a tense situation, do yourself a favor – apologize and walk away.
#4 Criminal Trespass
Signs that tell you that you don’t belong somewhere are there for a reason. Whether they denote a backstage area for artists, or an area reserved for festival employees, these signs mean that unless you know you belong there, you probably don’t. If you have a question about whether you can go through a gate or other roped off area, ASK. If you have to scale a chain link fence to get there, the answer is probably that you don’t belong.
#5 Public Urination
Likewise, signs that advertise the locations of bathrooms are also ones you should be paying attention to. There are lots of beautiful old oak trees on the Voodoo Fest grounds, however none are suggested to be used as restrooms. My many years of experience at Voodoo Fest tells me two things – one, public restrooms are plentiful and require almost no waiting, and two, people who use the oak trees instead wind up in trouble.
We all know it’s easy to have fun at Voodoo Fest, and with a little bit of effort, it’s easy to keep the good times from turning bad. Watch yourself, and watch what you bring into Voodoo Fest. Watch your back and watch out for your friends – try not to be a target for public intoxication. Keep you head on your shoulders and don’t let a potentially tense situation turn into a brawl. Follow signs and pay attention to what they say. Enjoy the festival!