In the midst of wintry weather, Deadwood rolls out its warm Cajun welcome mat Feb. 21-22 with the best Mardi Gras celebration north of New Orleans, complete with free food, a parade, live music and a raucous weekend party that generally attracts thousands of bead-lovers.
Festivities get underway from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21 with a Deadwood Cajun Feast replete with free Cajun appetizers, soups, entrees and desserts at venues throughout town. Then at 8 p.m., the party starts with a masquerade ball and the coronation of a king and queen, accompanied by live music from Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble at the Historic Franklin Hotel.
“We’re bringing back the Cajun Feast on Friday, which has become a favorite,” said Deadwood Chamber Executive Director Lee Harstad, whose organization hosts the soiree. “Participants will find flavorful Cajun courses at different locations in town. We also will have a new king and queen presiding over the festivities, something we do every year, which is voted upon on the Historic Deadwood Facebook page.”
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The Mardi Gras party resumes Saturday, Feb. 22, with a Cajun Food Cook-Off from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at various venues in Deadwood, featuring free samples while supplies last. Then at 7 p.m., the town’s annual Mardi Gras Parade lights up Main Street with colorful floats and a chance to take home your share of more than 100,000 sets of beads that will be distributed along the parade route. At 9 p.m., the free after-party and dancing begins at the Historic Franklin Hotel with live music performed by Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble.
“It may be a little cold in February, but some years we have had some interestingly warm, spring-like days,” Harstad noted. “You just never know, so it’s good to be prepared for all levels of the weather spectrum. On a cold Mardi Gras, there’s something about a dragon or a volcano with lights galore cruising down Main Street that warms you up. Cajun music and food surely doesn’t hurt either, and of course our saloons, restaurants, shops and casinos all welcome the Mardi Gras party goers.”
Harstad said Deadwood’s Mardi Gras, which has only grown in popularity, affords regional residents a chance to get off the couch, away from the television, and celebrate this singularly wild Cajun holiday.
“We’re always working to bring people to town, especially in the ‘off-peak’ times,” he said. “Deadwood is open for business 24-7-365, and events like Mardi Gras help our businesses. It’s a great way to break up that cabin fever and get up and visit the beautiful winter scenery in Deadwood and the Black Hills.”
Special open container zones in the historic district will allow revelers to roam from one Deadwood saloon to another both nights, according to Harstad. More details on Mardi Gras may be found at deadwood.com or by calling 1-800-999-1876.