THE ICON: Robert A. “Sonny” Vaucresson Sr.
THE LEGACY: Not too many people can brag of being at the first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Originally dubbed the “Louisiana Heritage Fair,” it was a relatively small event in 1970 and drew a relatively small crowd — especially compared to today’s teeming throngs — with performers taking the stage in the Municipal Auditorium and food vendors lining Congo Square. Sonny Vaucresson was there from the start, though, selling po-boys stuffed with sausage made from recipes handed down through his 7th Ward family — and adding some authentic Creole zest to the fest. Sonny died in 1998, but the family business is still cranking out its specialty as the only original Jazz Fest vendor still participating in the annual event — and offering fest-goers a very literal taste of the festival that started it all.
THE ARTIST: Connie Kittok
THE INSPIRATION: “I remember we took us out a few sandwiches wrapped in that aluminum foil. Sold eight-inch po-boys for 50 cents. And that was the beginning. Now, 25 years later, I can tell you that the Jazzfest is what helped Vaucresson’s become a USDA registered sausage plant that’s selling hot sausage, green onion sausage and our good, fresh andouille all over the world.” — Sonny Vaucresson, talking about his family-run sausage factory in 1994.