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It’s Deadwood’s largest winter weekend gathering, replete with thousands of beads, dazzling costumes, free Cajun cuisine, a colorful nighttime parade, and two evenings of live Zydeco music that are sure to get your feet stomping.

This year’s Mardi Gras celebration, set for Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, even features a masquerade party and king and queen coronation with the sounds of Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble.

“We bring the Mardi Gras carnival from the Gulf Coast to the Black Hills, complete with all the fixings,” said Deadwood Chamber Executive Director Lee Harstad, whose organization stages the event. “Some winter weekends need to be spiced up, and that’s exactly what we do for this one. People come from all over to take in the festivities, including a parade, plenty of free Cajun food and plenty of opportunities to be festive, including live Zydeco music throughout the weekend. We put on a carnival experience that isn’t 1,500 miles away, all with a Deadwood twist.”

Harstad said some folks come for the party and parade, while others show up simply for the food.

“The food alone is worth the weekend,” he said. “Deadwood is full of great chefs in our restaurants, and they love to show off their cooking skills. This is a fantastic, tasty opportunity for these chefs to showcase their skills and cook dishes that aren’t typically on area menus.”

Friday’s schedule features a Cajun Feast from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., allowing participants to wander down Main Street, sampling fare from a progressive menu that changes every year. Past years have sported notable menu items including frog legs, shrimp and andouille sausage, red bean and rice soup, etouffee, gumbo, blackened catfish, alligator meatballs, Louisiana barbecued ribs, creole crab and bread pudding.

The Friday soiree includes appetizers, soups and salads, a main course and dessert locations. At 8 p.m., the Masquerade Party and King and Queen Coronation begins, with live music and an authentic Mardi Gras dessert, at the Silverado-Franklin Gaming Complex on Upper Main. Open container will be allowed on Main Street from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday the party resumes with a free Cajun Cook-Off competition at locations throughout Deadwood from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Then at 7 p.m., revelers will flock to Main Street for Deadwood’s Annual Mardi Gras Parade, featuring dozens of brightly lit floats and 100,000 sets of beads distributed during the event. Live music by Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble begins at 9 p.m. at the Silverado-Franklin Gaming Complex and open containers will be allowed on Main Street from noon to 10 p.m.

Cash and prizes will be awarded for parade entries in six various categories, including Best Overall, Best Mardi Gras Theme, Best Lights, Mayor’s Choice, Best Business, and Community Spirit. Harstad said the Deadwood Chamber is still seeking parade entries. For registration forms and more information, visit deadwood.com or call the chamber at 578-1876.

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