(By Oscar Perry Abello for NextCity) If you’ve been one of 300,000 annual attendees at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival over the past decade or so, chances are you’ve heard Vance Vaucresson “barking,” — hawking his wares, in his case the famous Vaucresson Sausage. You may have been lucky enough to catch Vaucresson, also a jazz vocalist, performing the jingle he wrote about it.
And when folks take a sample, Vaucresson knows the product seals the deal just about every time. “For that little piece of sausage that might cost me ten cents, I’m making an $8 sale,” he says.
The founders of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival knew from the very beginning that food vendors had to be a part of the experience. The first vendor they invited was Vance’s father, Robert “Sonny” Vaucresson, the co-owner of Vaucresson’s Creole Cafe, the first Black-owned business on the city’s famous Bourbon Street. They were meeting at Vaucresson’s to brainstorm about the first festival, which took place in 1970.
Sonny Vaucresson sold the restaurant after nearly a decade. But, a bit of a gambler, he bought a corner building at 1800 St. Bernard Avenue, in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, and in 1983 he converted it into a sausage factory even before he had any clients. He did have a name to build from because his father, Robert Levinsky Vaucresson, had been a butcher serving the 7th Ward since 1899, getting his start as a vendor at what was then the St. Bernard Public Market.
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