When you see the word Cajun in front of just about anything, you know you've found something completely different. That's certainly the case with Cajun Country Mardi Gras! Now, we won’t comment on whether Cajun Country Mardi Gras is better than the carnival-style Mardi Gras that New Orleans is best known for, but it is definitely unique and worth a trip to Acadiana. Feel like dancing for a chicken?
Three Cajun Mardi Gras Traditions
Courir de Mardi Gras - Begging for gumbo ingredients
Traditionally known as Courir de Mardi Gras, festivities occur in towns throughout central Louisiana’s Cajun Country. Rooted in French medieval history, the Courir de Mardi Gras has many rituals that come together in a celebration on Fat Tuesday. The main event in a Cajun Country Mardi Gras is the traditional courir or “run” led by the capitaine of the Mardi Gras. Costumed and masked participants on horseback, foot or trailer make their way through the neighborhood performing another ancient ritual: begging. Yes, begging!
The revelers go from house to house singing and dancing for the owners in order to get different ingredients, all of which are used to make a communal gumbo at a celebration later that night. The last ingredient, and the highlight of the entire celebration, is the chicken.
Courir de Mardi Gras - Running
In addition to the run and chicken dance, you'll see colorful costumes, hear the traditional Cajun Country Mardi Gras song and taste authentic Cajun cooking. Each town’s Courir de Gras is special and has a unique twist. In rural towns and communities like Mamou, Iota, Elton, Church Point, Faquetaigue and Soileau, you’ll find food and events more Cajun than the names of the towns. In Basile, there is a children’s run held a few days before the traditional Fat Tuesday ride. For the ladies, there is a women-only run in Tee Mamou. If running isn’t your thing, try your legs out with a little barn dancing in Lakeview Park north of Eunice.
Courir de Mardi Gras - Food and Family Fun
In Eunice, the fun starts on the Saturday before Mardi Gras at the Historic Liberty Theatre where the history and traditions of the Courir de Gras are explained. Then on Sunday, the family-friendly fun begins with music, crafts and an old-time boucherie where you can eat just about every Cajun dish your heart desires, from boudin and cracklins to backbone stew. Tap your feet to live music on Monday and then come back on Fat Tuesday when Eunice really gets cranking. There’s an entire festival happening downtown while the Courir de Mardi Gras collects the ingredient list for the gumbo. Later that day, catch the parade, do the Cajun two-step or visit Jean Lafitte National Historical Park Prairie Acadian Cultural Center.
Cajun Country Mardi Gras is a must for anyone seeking authentic Louisiana. Make plans now to attend this year's festivities and participate in Courir de Mardi Gras 2015.