Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mardi Gras to go

Whether you’re in town looking to grab some Carnival-esque foods and spirits to aid in the celebration or you’re out of town and have an envie (desire) for something to ease your homesickness this time of year, here are some fun items to have on hand this Mardi Gras weekend.
King Cakes are sold at just about every bakery in South Louisiana, including Meche's Donuts, shown above, which deep fries their king cakes before decorating. Most bakeries will ship king cakes anywhere, but if you want to ship one to arrive for Mardi Gras Day (March 4), now's the time.

Swamp Pop soda is made in Lafayette with real cane sugar grown in Louisiana. You can find it nationally at World Market in their Mardi Gras section.

Rum is now locally made as well, also created from Louisiana-grown sugar cane.

Parish Brewing and Bayou Teche Brewing are two local breweries in the Lafayette area, both make delicious craft beers.

For something tasty to snack on, try these three fabulous Zydeco dips: Sweet Potato, Creole Trinity and Red Bean.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Just what is this Mardi Gras, anyway?

    If you’re visiting Lafayette and Acadiana during the 2014 Mardi Gras, you probably have lots of questions. Here’s a quick primer to all things Carnival.
    When is Mardi Gras? Mardi Gras is Tuesday, March 4.
    Where do the parades roll in Lafayette? All parades will begin at the corner of Simcoe, Jefferson and Surrey streets and end at Cajun Field, except for the Children's Parade which is abbreviated. You can view a parade route here.
     When do the parades roll in Lafayette? Parades will be rolling through the streets of Lafayette Friday evening (Friday Night Parade, Feb. 28), Saturday (Children's Parade, Youngsville Parade, Krewe of Bonaparte, March 1), Monday evening (Queen Evangeline's Parade, March 3) and all day on Tuesday (March 4, Mardi Gras). There are more parades rolling throughout Acadiana; check the Lafayette Travel web site for the complete list or "like" our Facebook page for updates.
    What’s up with the barricades? The Lafayette Police Department places barricades along the parade route for the public’s safety. Please remain behind the barricades when the parades are rolling. The barricades will go up on Thursday, Feb. 27, and remain until after the parades on Tuesday, March 4.
    Will streets be closed? The Lafayette Police Department will close all streets on and around the parade route one hour before the event begins. The intersection of University Avenue and Johnston Street, along with the intersection of St. Mary Boulevard and Johnston Street, will remain open as crossover intersections until the parade is only several blocks from the location.
    I’m worried about my children. Are they safe? Lafayette offers a family friendly Mardi Gras and you should not encounter any problems. But like any event involving crowds, you might want to place a note in the pocket of each child with the child’s name, address and contact telephone number.
    If there is an emergency during a parade, or a lost child, what do we do? Police will be available along the parade routes but command posts are established at Fire Station No 1 at Vermilion and Lee streets, Fire Station No. 5 at Johnston and St. Julien streets, Lafayette Police Command Bus at Johnston Street and S. College and at Cajun Field. Medical assistance is available at ambulance units stationed on the parade route.
    I have a handicapped person in my party. Where do we go? The 500 block of Jefferson Boulevard (between South Orange and South Sterling streets) and at Vermilion and Lee Street and St. Julien and Johnston Street, in front of the police command post, are viewing areas for the handicapped. 
    Are there Carnival costume contests? The annual King’s Court Costume Contest begins at 9 a.m. Mardi Gras Day (March 4) at Parc San Souci downtown. Pre-registration is not required but contestants are asked to be on-site in costume prior to 9 a.m. The theme for this year’s costume contest is Treasures of the Earth. Contestants will be judged in 5 classifications: Pre-School, 6-10 years old, 11-15 years old, Adults and Groups. For more information call 337-291-5566. The Mardi Gras Show at Clark Field is another event that offers costume contests, in addition to Mardi Gras Indians, food and live music.
    What about festivals in addition to the parades? Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette offers a carnival midway, live music, food and, best of all, the parades end here! It all happens nightly Feb. 28-March 4 at Cajun Field.
    What is the Cajun Mardi Gras? The “Courir de Mardi Gras” is a rural Mardi Gras celebration that dates back to the earliest days of settlement. With its roots in Medieval times, bands of masked and costumed horseback riders roam the countryside “begging” for ingredients for their communal gumbo.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lafayette to host inaugural Zydeco Marathon

     Lafayette will host the inaugural Zydeco Marathon and Half Marathon, a USA Track and Field sanctioned and certified full and half marathon on Sunday March 30, 2014. The Zydeco Marathon serves as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and other major distance running events.
    “We have been anticipating this for more than a year, when the idea to hold Lafayette’s first full marathon came together last February” said co-founder and marketing director Andrew Ward. “As of today, we have over 1600 registered runners from Acadiana and all over the country, including 23 states and Canada and Germany. It’s an honor to be a part of something that will not only bring in new tourism to our area, but continue Lafayette’s reputation as a progressive, forward-thinking community with health and fitness as a priority.”
     Ben Berthelot, president and CEO of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission (LCVC) added, "We are thrilled to see such a positive response for the inaugural Zydeco Marathon from people all across the world. We look forward to showcasing our food, music, culture and hospitality to all of the runners and their families. This event will only continue to grow and we are grateful to all of the volunteers and sponsors who are helping to make the marathon a reality."
     At the completion of the race, there will be a free outdoor concert, labeled the “Finish Line Festival,” held in the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Intramural Fields next to Blackham Coliseum.  Local zydeco bands will perform, headlined by Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie, and local restaurants will be serving up great Lafayette cuisine, including Lagneaux’s, Poupart’s Bakery and Bistro and Charley G’s.
     Race proceeds will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Acadiana. Online registration information, along with course maps, pre- and post-race festivities and other race details, can be found at

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mardi Gras outside the box

             Carnival parades, balls and parties take over South Louisiana this time of year. If you’re a visitor to Lafayette wanting to experience Mardi Gras but will miss the actual dates, or perhaps want a smaller more family-friendly version, there are several events happening in the next few weeks to get you in the Mardi Gras spirit.
            Vermilionville hosts a traditional Cajun country Mardi Gras run, or Courir de Mardi Gras, on Sunday. Feb. 16, at the historic village. The Basile Mardi Gras Association will perform the courir at 11 a.m., visiting the village’s homes to beg for ingredients for a gumbo and perform Cajun Carnival traditions along the way.
Vermilionville Courir de Mardi Gras
            Other activities include a children’s capuchon (Carnival hat) workshop, a children’s courir, performances by the Pine Leaf Boys and Mardi Gras King Cake cooking demonstrations with Marie Walthers from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Vermilionville’s Cooking School.
            Admission is $5, children under 5 admitted free. For more information, visit or call (337) 233-4077. 
            Want to have a ball but don’t belong to a Carnival “Krewe” or the organization that hosts the region’s Carnival balls? The Red Hot Mardi Gras Ball is for anyone looking to attend a Carnival ball — and this event features Lafayette Mayor Joey Durel as King Cayenne I! The event will be held on Valentine’s night, Feb. 14, at The District & Event Center on Johnston Street featuring the band 5th Avenue. Tickets are $35 per person and $250 for a table, available at both locations of Schlotsky’s Deli in Lafayette. For more information, visit
Horse Farm
            The Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market at the Horse Farm will host “Mardi Gras at the Market” on Saturday, March 1, in honor of the Acadian Mardi Gras traditions still celebrated in south Louisiana today. The morning’s activities will include musical performances by the Cajun music group BonSoir Catin, followed by Corey Ledet and his Zydeco Band. A Creole Mardi Gras group from Lafayette will dress in traditional costume and share their group’s Carnival history and a Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras will take place at 11:30 a.m. and continue until 1:15 p.m. when the Children’s Parade approaches the nearby corner of Johnston Street and South College. (Parade parking will be available at the Horse Farm from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., weather permitting.)
            Locals and visitors are invited to dress, sing and parade with the courir revelers as they beg hosts stationed on the Horse Farm for gumbo ingredients. In keeping with the rural tradition, the prize ingredient will be a live chicken for the revelers to chase. Logan Farm’s Honey Glazed Ham will sponsor a communal gumbo sampling for all courir participants and the Children’s Museum of Acadiana will host a Mardi Gras mask decorating booth for children featuring mask templates from several Mardi Gras costume traditions. The UL-Lafayette Public History Program’s “Museum on the Move” will be parked at the Horse Farm displaying its exhibit on Louisiana woman of the 20th century. For more information, visit