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Southern culture meets the Black Hills: Deadwood set for Mardi Gras

Deadwood Mardi Gras

Deadwood will again celebrate Mardi Gras on March 1-2.

Bring a little Southern culture into your life with the annual Mardi Gras festivities March 1-2 in Deadwood.

Billed as “The Best Party North of New Orleans,” Deadwood Mardi Gras is one of the town’s most popular events and has been attracting thousands of attendees for many years.

This cultural celebration period is held every year before the fasting season of Lent. Cities across the U.S. hold annual celebrations around the holiday, incorporating their own customs in addition to the original Mardi Gras traditions. Deadwood is no different, adding a special “wild west” flair to its celebration.

Amanda Kille, marketing and sponsorship director for the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce said it’s all about mixing the two and making the ceremony your own.

“We put our Deadwood spin on it. We have things like re-enactors in our parade, and you’ll probably see somebody in a full snowsuit. It’s fun to add our own little touches, but not too much though because we do respect the original traditions,” she said.

This year’s festivities feature plenty of fun, free activities, including authentic Cajun food, a light parade, a masquerade ball complete with Mardi Gras Royalty, and two nights of Zydeco music straight from New Orleans.

There are special open-container zones throughout Deadwood where patrons can roam from one bar to the next. Beverages must be beer and wine only and only in the Deadwood-Budweiser official event series cup.

The party kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday with the Cajun Food Crawl, making its return for the third year with a variety of tasty New Orleans-style signature dishes served at various locations throughout Deadwood. Previous year’s dishes included Red Beans and Rice, Etouffee, Gumbo and Jambalaya.

“We typically prepare food for up to 500 people, so they’ll have opportunities to sample Cajun food both nights,” Kille said.

The Masquerade Party starts at 8 p.m. at the Historic Franklin Hotel, and features the coronation of this year’s Mardi Gras King and Queen, and live music by Louisiana greats Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble.

The fun continues Saturday, with the Cajun Food Cook-Off from 2-4 p.m. Participants can sample more Cajun delicacies and vote on their favorites. Tastings are first-come, first serve, so be sure to get there early to take advantage of the authentic cuisine.

Historic Main Street will light up at 7 p.m. when the annual Mardi Gras Parade gets underway. More than 100,000 strings of beads were purchased to be handed out during the parade. Local businesses are encouraged to enter their float in the parade, and there is no entry fee. Prizes are awarded in six different categories for parade entries, including Best Mardi Gras Theme and Community Spirit.

Many Deadwood businesses also get in on the Mardi Gras spirit and hold their own promotions to celebrate. Kille likes that this event encourages people to make a trip to the historic town during the winter months.

“What's really important is that we're giving people fun, compelling reasons to visit Deadwood, not just during the summer, because our businesses are open year-round here,” she said.

All events are free throughout the weekend. For more information, and a complete list of events and times, visit deadwoodmardigras.com or call 605-578-1876.

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