NEW ORLEANS — The Neville Brothers carried on the tradition of closing out the big stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Funky Meters, regulars at the fest since 1989, were back, too. And festival creator George Wein played with an all-star cast at the Preservation Hall and Friends 50th Anniversary Celebration.

That was Sunday's big nod to tradition.

The closing day lineup also included Bonnie Raitt, the Foo Fighters and the Rebirth Brass Band as part of the more than 60 groups performing on 11 stages.

Clouds and brief showers rolled across the bright blue morning skies, providing fans with an occasional drop in temperature and a cooling breeze to offset the steamy humidity. It was the first rain during Jazz Fest, and never lasted long enough or came down hard enough to drive fans to take shelter.

Although attendance would not be announced until later in the week, the festival was jammed throughout its 7-day run thanks to a combination of acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Jimmy Buffett, as well as more traditional jazz, blues and gospel performers.

"It was the biggest crowd ever," said Wein, 86, who founded both the New Orleans and Newport jazz festivals. "I was told over 70,000 people went through gates just Saturday."

Ron York, a 47-year-old salesman from Detroit, said he had attended both weekends of the festival and spent nights taking in music at the clubs around town.

"It was just what I needed after a Detroit winter," he said as he feasted on boiled crawfish and alligator sauce picante. "I'm going to come `till I die and it's in my will they have to bring my ashes every year after that."

At the other end of the Fairgrounds race track, where the festival is held, the Neville Brothers – Art, Cyril, Charles and Aaron _, blended their special combination of funk and heart-grabbing songs to a jam-packed crowd.

"I only get to see them once a year," said Sally Grant, 47, of New Orleans. "So I never miss this. It's their tradition to end things by playing, and mine by watching."

Composer-musician-producer Allen Toussaint, who played Saturday, was back on Sunday for a guest appearance at the Preservation Hall show. He also sat in with Bonnie Raitt.

The 74-year-old Toussaint has been performing at Jazz Fest since 1975 and said it was more than the size of the crowds that impressed him.

"They have been such a good crowd, so appreciative of the music," Toussaint said. "It's a pleasure to perform for people like this."

Jazz Fest caps a string of major tourist events in New Orleans since winter that included the BCS college football championship, the NCAA Final Four, Mardi Gras and the French Quarter Festival. All provided a huge economic boost for a city still recovering from Hurricane Katrina in many areas.

See photos from New Orleans' jazz festival:
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  • Music Jazz Fest Preservation Hall

    In this May 5, 2012 photo, a member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. For five decades, Preservation Hall has served up New Orleans jazz for music lovers the world over. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on its closing weekend, marked that achievement by showcasing the world-renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band in concert twice. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest Preservation Hall

    In this May 5, 2012 photo, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. For five decades, Preservation Hall has served up New Orleans jazz for music lovers the world over. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on its closing weekend, marked that achievement by showcasing the world-renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band in concert twice. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest Mardi Gras Indians

    In this Thursday, May 3, 2012 photo, Jania Williams, 2, a Little Queen with the Cheyenne Mardi Gras Indian tribe, readies to parade with the tribe at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. The Indians have been showcased at Jazz Fest for more than 40 years. But this year, they have an entire pavilion to display their costumes, explain their culture and demonstrate how they create elaborate headdresses and aprons. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest Mardi Gras Indians

    In this Thursday, May 3, 2012 photo, Chief Al Womble of the Cheyenne Mardi Gras Indian tribe, top left, parades with the tribe at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. The Indians have been showcased at Jazz Fest for more than 40 years. But this year, they have an entire pavilion to display their costumes, explain their culture and demonstrate how they create elaborate headdresses and aprons. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest Theresa Andersson

    FILE - In this May 6, 2006 file photo, Theresa Andersson of the Theresa Andersson Group performs during the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. It's a big weekend for singer-songwriter Theresa Andersson, who is performing Friday and Saturday. Andersson is scheduled to play songs from her new album, "Street Parade," on Friday, May 4, 2012 and return to the Fair Grounds racetrack on Saturday for a duet with her friend and mentor, jazz singer-songwriter and pianist Allen Toussaint. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, file)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Ben Jaffe, tuba player and director of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band hugs George Wein, founder of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, as well as the Newport Jazz Festival, after Wein performed a song on the piano at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, May 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    George Wein, founder of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, as well as the Newport Jazz Festival, waves to the crowd after performing a song on the piano at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, May 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • JAZZ FEST

    Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Thursday, April 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

  • JAZZ FEST

    Widespread Panic performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Thursday, April 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

  • JAZZ FEST

    Amanda Shaw performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Thursday, April 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

  • JAZZ FEST

    Big crowds enjoy the nice weather at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Thursday, April 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

  • JAZZ FEST

    Allyson Oliver, left, Carnelian Artemis and Greg Gonzales, right, enjoy Widespread Panic at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Thursday, April 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

  • APTOPIX JAZZ FEST

    Elvis Costello performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Thursday, April 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

  • New Orleans Jazz Fest

    George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Friday, April 23. 2010. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Ani DiFranco performs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, May 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Ani DiFranco performs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, May 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Vocalist Nona Hendryx performs as a musical guest with Terri Lyne Carrington's Mosaic in the Jazz Tent at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Friday, May 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Vocalist Nona Hendryx performs as a musical guest with Terri Lyne Carrington's Mosaic in the Jazz Tent at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Friday, May 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Dancers perform the 'Sissy Bounce' during the 'Bounce Shakedown' at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, May 6, 2012. The bounce is described by the festival as 'hypersexual dancing and a call-and-response-style party atmosphere.' (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Audience members dance the 'Sissy Bounce' during the 'Bounce Shakedown' at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, May 6, 2012. The bounce is described by the festival as 'hypersexual dancing and a call-and-response-style party atmosphere.' (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Katey Red, a transexual "Sissy Bounce" rapper, performs during the "Bounce Shakedown" at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, May 6, 2012. The bounce is described by the festival as a "hypersexual dancing and a call-and-response-style party atmosphere." (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Audience members dance the "Sissy Bounce" during the "Bounce Shakedown" at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Sunday, May 6, 2012. The bounce is described by the festival as a "hypersexual dancing and a call-and-response-style party atmosphere." (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • APTOPIX Music Jazz Fest

    Herbie Hancock performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Saturday, May 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

  • Music Jazz Fest

    Ne-Yo tosses his jacket to the crowd as he performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Saturday, May 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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