The inaugural Ignition Fest presented by the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus was an overall success, with perfect weather, good vibes, and of course, the burn.
The festival was inspired by Burning Man, where thousands of free spirits gather every year in the Nevada Desert to build and burn large-scale art installations. The theme, Chewburnitall, served as an ode to the krewe’s mascot, Chewie. The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is a sci-fi inspired Mardi Gras marching group. Combining Chewbacca from Star Wars and Bacchus, the Greek god of wine and merriment, Chewbacchus symbolizes the sacred drunken wookiee.
The event took place at the FilmWorks Studios in New Orleans East, which has hosted similar events like MoMs Ball, an exclusive, costume-required party held by the Krewe of Misfits, Orphans, and Mystics during Mardi Gras.
Three sculptures were burned throughout the weekend including Deep Thought, a giant computer; Mission Control, a Superdome/flying saucer hybrid; and a giant Wicker Wookiee, the centerpiece of the festival. The 27-foot Chewbacca effigy with six arms and burlap fur burned on Saturday night to commemorate the weekend, Burning Man style.
Nearly 900 were in attendance, with 600 of those camping on the grounds. The crowd was intimate and kind with high morale running thick in the air. Attendees were dressed in wild costumes of all sorts, from space cadets to pink fuzzy creatures. Friends were made, hugs were given, and I was offered free s’mores more than once over the weekend. The temperature drop late Saturday lead to less naked people running around and more people huddled by the fire to keep warm.
Musical acts featured local and international talent, including DJ Otto, Tristan Dufrene, Javier Drada, the Jerk Officers, and Quickie Mart. DJs played music all night at the Dohm, a geodesic structure with dancing fans dangling on the outside and hammocks hung on the inside.
Perhaps the best part of Ignition was the repurposing of materials. With New Orleans being such a celebratory city, there’s always an excuse to reuse things for events throughout the year. I’ve seen the MechaGator, a fire-breathing mechanical alligator, at a few festivals now, as well as Gilliam, the giant cloud whale, floating around the Bywater. The All Saints Soundcamp, a color-changing cube stage, was present in the back alley at Buku Fest back in March. All materials used at the festival were recycled, down to doors and wood palates burned in the ceremonial fires.
It will be interesting to see how this festival grows over the years!
– Words by Kaitlyn Clement, Photos by Emily Ferretti