All festivals have fun, food, and entertainment, but when a festival also incorporates a cause close to our community, it’s even more enriching. Treme Festival has all the elements of a good time, with live performances from artist like John Boutte and all of our favorite festival vittles, but it also delves deeper into the history of the Treme neighborhood and its cultural anchor, St. Augustine Church.
The inaugural festival is designed specifically to raise awareness and funds for the church, helping to kick-start charitable efforts for much-needed repairs to keep the church a pillar of the community. We’re taking a look at the history of the church to learn why Treme Festival, hosted by The Historic Faubourg Treme Association, is such an important event. When festivals are able to span entertainment and charitable components, the result is truly remarkable. New Orleans Will check out Treme Festival this weekend, from Oct. 2-4!
St. Augustine Church
Construction on the church began in 1841, with St. Augustine Church opening its doors the following year on Oct. 9, 1842. The church historically is a home for “gens de coleur libres,” also known as free people of color. At that time, the church was one of the only Catholic churches that offered slaves a place to sit while celebrating mass instead of having to stand for the service. This sign of solidarity is an important part of the church and reflects on the entire Treme neighborhood, built on foundations of being welcoming to everyone, no matter their background.
With the church a central hub of the Treme neighborhood in the decades that followed, many leaders in the free black community – including Homer Plessy of the famous Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court Case – attended the church. Even today, those who enter inside its beautiful walls and admire the detailed stained glass and decorative elements will feel a sense of awe knowing that important leaders throughout history also frequented the same church.
The Treme Festival will take place outside of St. Augustine Church on Oct. 2 -4. Although the festival is free, remember that proceeds directly benefit the church, which is in need of repairs after more than a century’s worth of public use. Donations will be accepted before the celebration and all during the festival.