Courir de Mardi Gras

March 13, 2017  |  Travel, Uncategorized

I have long wanted to witness a rural Louisiana Mardi Gras, and last week I did. This is nothing like the more familiar Mardi Gras as celebrated in New Orleans. This is a ritualized traveling show that can be kind of creepy, a little bit scary, very colorful, and a whole lot of fun. Unlike the parades in a city where anyone can join the crowds, a Cajun Mardi Gras takes place out in the country where revelers move from farm to farm begging ingredients for the communal gumbo they will enjoy at the end of the day. Some walk, some ride horses, and some (like the one we saw) come on great big trucks pulling brightly colored wagons. Routes are established by tradition, and you kind of have to know where they go.

We were lucky. We were invited to Roonie and Nell Frugé’s farm to join their extended family and friends as they waited for the Mardi Gras (as the revelers are called) to appear. We shared coffee, king cake, and boudin as we visited. Four generations of the family played and laughed and passed babies around. Finally we heard the music, as the trucks came along the long driveway to where we waited. The masked Mardi Gras approached the house on hands and knees and sang the traditional song, pounding the ground with their hands, begging for whatever the Frugés might supply. That part was a little unnerving, because it seemed like anything could happen. But pretty soon everyone was on their feet and the dancing began. Farmer Roonie offered a live chicken, a coveted prize, which the revelers chased and caught in a matter of minutes. Then it was over. Masks were pushed back, identities revealed, and the Mardi Gras climbed back on the wagons to travel to the next house.

But we were lucky again. This farm was the last stop before lunch. The Frugé family offered their big barn as a rest stop for the traveling rowdies. That’s where we could really appreciate that this is a day enjoyed by every generation. Rituals are observed and passed along. It’s silly and fun, but also important. Folks come together in community to celebrate as they have done for so long.

Like the t-shirts say, it’s a family tradition.

It was a privilege to be there.

(There are 26 images in this collection. Click on the arrow to advance through the slideshow.)

 


2 Comments


  1. Fantastic stuff, Dorothy. I especially love that opening image at the top of your post.

  2. Thank you, Sabrina! It was a pretty special experience. :-)

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