Vacation recommendations: Cajun Mardi Gras a vibrant tradition

Cajun Mardi Gras is a tailgate party of a parade, where by a chicken chase and revellers in creepy costumes are all section of the festivities.

Travel can carry travellers to sudden sites and possibilities to consider new matters but nothing at all could have completely organized me for my visit to a Cajun nation Mardi Gras, in rural Arnaudville, Louisiana.

I joined regional revellers at their yearly pre-Lent celebrations through a former Mardi Gras period that continue to tops my list of strange travel adventures. How could it not when 1 of the day’s quite a few highlights was an structured chicken chase in a farmer’s area.

A Cajun region Mardis Gras, also acknowledged as Courir de Mardis Gras, is a stark contrast from New Orleans’ carnival type Mardi Gras, with its grand balls, pageantry, glamorous costumes and plastic beads tossed from lavishly adorned floats.

A two-hour generate from New Orleans, Arnaudville is a modest community in the state’s southwest. Its Courir de Mardi Gras is a lot more of a shifting tailgate celebration, with a handful of revellers on horseback and dozens of persons, dressed in do-it-yourself costumes, swaying to Cajun music seeking for mischievous enjoyment.

A merry band of partiers and musicians on a flatbed truck participating in foot-tapping devices — which includes a button accordion, a washboard, drum, triangle and fiddles — did not get into much too a great deal trouble alongside the Oak tree-lined dirt street, despite a couple leaping into mud puddles. But as soon as we arrived at the major occasion, the music stopped and the serious chaos began.

A person unlucky hen was tossed above the crowd, and people scrambled to catch the rapidly running, wings-flapping-vainly chicken, doomed to become part of the communal gumbo taking place afterwards that working day.

If you are “running” in the Courir de Mardi Gras, held in several Cajun communities all over Louisiana, you have to be dressed for it.

A handful of days prior, I bought into the Mardi Gras spirit by using a mask-generating workshop at the Vermilionville Historic Village, in close by Lafayette, hot gluing scraps of material, ribbons and other gildings onto a conical hat and mesh deal with mask.

The thought guiding the mask is to disguise your id so you can “play” with abandon throughout Mardis Gras. Beer and other alcoholic drinks, which are a large portion of the celebration, also seem to aid with that goal.

For my Courir de Mardi Gras mask, I applied substance with a pet dog print, googly eyes, bogus fur trim, feathers and sequins in two of the three Mardis Gras colours of purple and green. (Being a puppy lover, I desired to go with the pet print about including the 3rd Mardis Gras colour of gold).

And although I may perhaps have seemed like I was a person of the participants, with their “anything goes” masks, I had no notion of how it would all end that dreary February morning, waiting around for the leader of the Mardi Gras festivities, regarded as the capitaine, to start out the raucous procession.

Although a Cajun Mardi Gras ordinarily enables adult men only on the Mardi Gras run, with women of all ages observing from the sidelines, the one particular I attended was structured by girls and putting them in the coronary heart of the merriment.

In point, while males could take part in this household-pleasant celebration, they experienced to be “in the back again of the Courir,” in accordance to the rules, outlined prominently at the farmhouse entrance.

The entertaining started off early, with a couple of the individuals by now consuming beer at 9 a.m. when the group was asked to obtain around the porch to go more than the guidelines in advance of placing out. Consuming was authorized, but the capitaine reminded everyone they cannot get “too drunk” or they would risk becoming “removed from the run and contained.”

Other principles involved not carrying weapons, no combating, no underage consuming and any one performing the hen operate had be in full costume with a mask and wearing a capuchon (the cone-formed, ceremonial hat).

The capitaine, who was unmasked and wore a cape, drove a quad bicycle during the procession, in circumstance fast action was vital. She was tasked with what seemed to be unachievable: preserving buy among the merrymakers. To do that, she wielded a ceremonial whip, and also has a white flag.

She employed the flag when approaching property owners, along the procession route, to question authorization for the Mardi Gras to enter their home and entertain them in exchange for gumbo ingredients, this sort of as rice and sausage. A raised flag is also the signal revellers could enter the house and “beg” for gumbo contributions.

Foodstuff goes to the extremely coronary heart of what Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” is all about.

It began in the 16th century in medieval France, with a celebration the working day just before Ash Wednesday, on the Catholic calendar, with men and women indulging in rich food items. The lousy, dressed in tall hats and silly costumes to mock the nobility, would perform skits and music in exchange for meals before the Lenten fasting season began. Mardi Gras traditions were brought to the United States in the 19th century, and in the previous few many years have aided revitalize Cajun tradition in Louisiana.

If there was at any time a fantastic time to visit Louisiana, it is for the duration of Mardi Gras season, with celebrations going on now till Mardi Gras working day on Feb. 13. If you do go to Cajun state, be ready for a great time encountering ancient, but odd, traditions — some thing you will most likely never ever ignore.

Lots of communities in Louisiana have celebrations prepared, which includes traditional Courir de Mardi Gras occasions.

A Courir de Mardis Gras at Vermilionville, the residing historical past museum in Lafayette, is set for Feb. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and in the metropolis of Eunice Feb. 13 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For a entire record of Mardi Gras events in southern Louisiana go to lafayettetravel.com.

If you go

• Meat eaters can’t go to Cajun nation and not buy boudin (a sausage built with rice) and cracklins (fried pork stomach) and a person of the very best destinations to get the regional dish is at Chicken on the Bayou Restaurant in Breaux Bridge, about an 18-moment drive north of Lafayette. This common Cajun cafe also serves other Louisiana favourites like grilled catfish, fried crawfish and farm-raised alligator. In the restaurant’s shop, you are going to discover Cajun seasonings with names like “Slap Ya Mama” and “Cajun Tipsy Rooster Seasoning” that includes a drawing of a drunken rooster.

• If you want to see alligators in the coronary heart of Cajun place, check out America’s premier freshwater swamp for an airboat tour with the ­Atchafalaya Basin Landing and Swamp Tours in the compact town of Henderson. The airboat receives you up near to historic cypress trees as you research for gators in the murky waters, comprehensive of vegetation and wildlife.

• To much better recognize the region’s historical past, go to Vermilionville Living Background Museum & Folklife Park, in Lafayette, a recreated historic village. On the on nine-hectare property, staff members, dressed in period costume will regale you with stories about the people who lived in this location of South Louisiana till the end of the 1800s, starting with indigenous Americans and the others who joined them — Acadians, Creoles and persons of African descent.