Celebrating 174 years of existence, the St. Augustine Catholic Church, considered the heartbeat of the Tremé neighborhood, has begun to show her age. In an effort to revive this aging church, the Historic Faubourg Tremé Association will host its first annual Tremé Festival from Oct. 3-4. The event is free and open to the public and features food, art, and musical performances.

Church, AmenDedicated in 1842, the St. Augustine Catholic Church was the first integrated church where whites, free people of color, and slaves worshiped. This church sits in the center of Tremé, the first African American neighborhood in the city. In 2006, the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced its decision to close several Catholic churches in the city due to decreased financial support and attendance. When St. Augustine was targeted, congregation members rallied to, keep it open, said Beverly Curry, former pastoral chairperson at St. Augustine. “St. Augustine has been the backbone of the Tremé community, and I refused to them close this church,”said Curry. In 2006, Curry and 11 long-time members of St. Augustine slept outside the historic church for 12 days to protest the archdiocese’s decision to close their church.

Treme Festival flyer

Successfully, these women were able to keep their church open.
Members said they now hope the community will join them in preserving the church.The Historic Faubourg Association, a non-profit made up of Tremé residents and St. Augustine members, said the festival will raise funds to begin restoration.“This festival is what we call a party with a purpose, and our purpose is to save a historic church that is essential to this community by celebrating its legacy,” said Dr. Naydja Bynum, the association’s founding president The free festival takes place on the corner of Henriette Delille and Governor Nicholls Streets.

Oct.3 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Face painting, stilts-walkers,children’s activities
• A variety of food booths
• Live entertainment: a second-line procession lead by the Roots of Music Band; and jazz musical performances by John Boutte, Kermit Ruffins, James Andrews and many more.

Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• 10 a.m. Gospel Mass at St. Augustine Catholic Church
• Noon-4 p.m., gospel extravaganza “We wanted a festival that benefited the people of the Tremé, so we reached out to artists that have a strong connection to Tremé,” said Darryl Durham, the vice president and chairman of the association.

More information can be
found wwwtremefest.com

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