Self-styled as the "The Cajun Music Capital of the World," the small town of Mamou lies in the Louisiana flatlands of the Mamou Prairie, around 50 miles northwest of Lafayette. The town has some famous attractions, including Fred's Lounge, a local bar that takes credit for helping revive many Cajun traditions. This includes the annual Mardi Gras in Mamou, which attracts thousands of revelers each year.
The Mardi Gras celebrations in Mamu have their roots in Fred's Lounge, a local bar that has been featured in a magazine article and on network news shows. Patrons of the establishment in the 1950s bemoaned the decline of Cajun traditions, and from these discussions grew the Mardi Gras Association of Mamou. A plaque unveiled at the bar's 50th anniversary in 1996 credits these events with the revival of the traditional Cajun Mardi Gras celebrations. First held in the early 1950s, the Mamou Mardi Gras has become an annual event in the city.
Courir de Mardi Gras
The Courir de Mardi Gras in Mamou takes place on the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday. This traditional event involves a team of horse riders in colorful costumes and masks making their way through the countryside surrounding Mamou, accompanied by wagons carrying musicians and other revelers. This procession stops at local homes and farms to put on singing and dancing performances, as well as to collect food and ingredients to make a traditional gumbo feast in the town's evening celebrations.
As the Courir de Mardi Gras runs its course in the surrounding countryside, festivities also take place in Mamou. These involve street dances, which typically take place at both the north and south ends of the town, and feature live performances by Cajun bands. The dances continue until the riders return and put on a performance as they make their way through the town. The celebrations then go on late into the evening, with those attending enjoying the gumbo prepared from the ingredients collected by the riders.
The Mamou Mardi Gras celebrations also include other events leading up to the Tuesday celebrations. These generally start on the Saturday afternoon with a street dance in the town. Sunday morning sees the staging of a kids' Mardi Gras ride. This lets local children join in the fun, with prizes awarded for those turning up in the best costumes. On Monday evening a concert features top Cajun singers and bands. While attendance at most Mardi Gras events is free, there is usually an admission fee for the Monday concert.
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