Festivals & Fieldwork – New Orleans Style

So, you want to conduct fieldwork? You probably head to the nearest mall with a clipboard and try to stop frantic shoppers whose minds are anywhere but on your survey. Or, maybe, you opt for a relevant conference that is in town, but attendees already planned out their schedule 3 weeks ago – and they didn’t leave any 45-minute breaks – except maybe for lunch.

Bring in the festival. Festivals are an optimal place to hold fieldwork and provide large diverse crowds who have a more relaxed itinerary.  Festival days are often long. Many festival goers have certain bands or events they are trying to see with large blocks of down-time in between and are often more than willing to engage with researchers.  And New Orleans has more festivals than just about anywhere in the country.

There are two main ways to conduct qualitative research at a festival.


Intercepts are your traditional clipboard (or now tablet) on-the-spot surveys. No preliminary recruiting is conducted for intercepts. This is a great way to reach a large number of participants. For a more quantitative approach, surveys can be kept short (5-10 minutes) with a lower pay-out. For more qualitative research, participants who screen through a short survey can be asked to stay for a longer survey with a higher incentive.

Some researchers opt for a tent space for their intercepts which entices festival-goers to come to you. This is also important if you have a more complex setup, like a taste test or physical product samples.  If the scope of the project is simpler, walking around the crowds with a branded t-shirt and tablet can get the job done. Just make sure that you contact festival organizers regarding their intercept rules and secure any appropriate tickets or passes.

Sponsorship & Focus Groups

We’ve seen Focus Groups and IDIs held at festivals! The preliminary planning works the same way as your traditional focus group. There is a screener to find qualified participants, but instead of inviting them to a facility, they are invited to a local festival.

Usually, the company holding the focus group is a sponsor of the festival and has a notable set-up at the event. Car companies, candy companies, and music technology companies have all utilized these methods. The focus group is usually held in the earlier hours of the festival before the crowds thicken and the more popular acts take the stage.  A focus group might be about 1-2 hours long, and then participants are able to enjoy the rest of the day at the festival.

If it is a high ticket-price festival, the ticket itself can be an enticing part of the incentive.

New Orleans has festivals all year round! Sometimes multiple in a weekend. Some of our most well known festivals are:

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Voodoo Festival

Buku Festival

French Quarter Festival

Essence Festival

Bayou Boogaloo

New Orleans Oyster Festival

And many more


If you are interested in conducting qualitative research at a local festival, get in touch and we will help choose the right festival for you!