Flap over blues festival teaches needed lessons

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 14, 2000

Sometimes lessons can be difficult to learn. And sometimes a person, or persons, must be reluctantly dragged into the lesson. Initially we thought it was sad that the promoter of the Natchez Bluff Blues Festival had to drag the City of Natchez into U.S. District Court over a scheduling dispute. But in hindsight, we think a positive lesson was learned in the process.

The dispute arose when a New Orleans man chose to schedule his wedding at St. Mary Basilica during the afternoon of this year’s blues fest. A similar scheduling problem erupted shortly before last year’s festival. When faced with the problem in 1999, festival promoters reluctantly agreed to stop the music during the wedding ceremony and in the process, they say the festival lost money.

In an effort to prevent such a problem from happening again, promoters met with the city to hash out the details in an effort to safeguard against such problems from happening again.

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But alas, another wedding popped up this year. After a brief bit of discussion, both sides agreed to disagree and the stage was set for a legal battle. The city decided to issue the festival a noise permit that prohibited music during the hour of the wedding.

On Wednesday a federal judge ruled that the promoters didn’t have to stop the music during the ceremony — proving that justice isn’t completely lost. And while we think the judge’s decision was dead-on, we think a bigger issue is that the city learned a lesson — and was big enough to admit as much.

Following the judge’s decision, City Attorney Walter Brown said he was pleased that the court reaffirmed the city’s noise ordinance and that the city had learned a lesson.

We hope that is true and that everyone — from the city leaders to the wedding party to the blues fest promoters — can put the disagreement in the past and move on to make our city better.

And an excellent way to achieve that is to discuss and solve such issues now, before another one arises and causes strife.