Having never been to Jazz Fest, I thought it would be a nice, relaxing spring day (JF is held in late April/early May) at the New Orleans Fairgrounds sitting on a blanket, listening to some good music (Dave Matthews, Mystikal, Cowboy Mouth, etc.) and hanging out with my friends. I thought that getting there around 2:30 was plenty of time to look around and still make it to see Cowboy Mouth at 4. My friends that were with me, most of whom had been to Jazz Fest, thought this was a good idea also.
Instead, we encountered a record-setting crowd of 160,000 people (previous record of 98,000), we couldn't even get near any stage, people were pushy and rude. Almost immediately, we started over to the (main) Acura stage, and before we could even hear the band on the stage (much less see the stage), we ran into a wall of people and people camped out EVERYWHERE. Blankets, chairs, beer, and half-naked, sunburned people covered the ground. We were stuck, we could do nothing but be pushed along by the crowds, hoping not to lose each other.
Eventually, we had shuffled far enough were we could actually see the stage, and by then we realized that there was NO WAY we were going to be able to sit down. So, the only way out was to start climbing over people and their blankets. People were not happy about this, but there wasn't much they could do about it. An hour later, we were back where we started, but at least we were out of the crowd.
From there, we decided we could still go catch Mystikal on the Congo Stage. So, we made it over there, found a spot very far away from the stage (the closest we could get), and sat down. As the time for him to start approached, more and more people crowded in the stage area, but not near as bad as over at the Acura stage. We waited over an hour for Mystikal to come onstage. No announcements, apologies, NOTHING. He was supposed to play for only an hour - what could be taking so long!? Eventually, we decided we were fed up with this mess, we'd been there for almost 3 hours, hadn't seen one band, it was way too crowded, so we left.
Hopefully, based on this year's crowds, maybe they'll change their ticket-selling policies. They just sold WAY too many tickets. If there had been an emergency, or a riot, I don't know what they would have done. It was insane. Tickets were $18 via ticketmater (inc service charge), but we also paid $12 for a RT bus ticket to/from the fairgrounds from our hotel (the Crescent on Canal).
The good parts of Jazz Fest were the weather (it was gorgeous), the mango freezes (yum!), the interesting booths of artwork and displays, and the people-watching (Jazz Fest attracts all types).