Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras in Iota

My tendency to underestimate the number of people who plan to attend Mardi Gras parades held in small towns in Cajun Country (around Lafayette, LA) reached new levels for the parade in Scott a week ago.

My estimate of the number of people attending the parade--"the town's population of 8,000 plus a couple thousand more" (2/13/12 entry)--was just a bit off the mark.

Just how far off?

Well, a note in the Scott Connection on 2/15 observed: "The beautiful, sunny skies brought an estimated crowd of 125,000 revelers to the City of Scott (for the 16th Annual Mardi Gras Parade)." So,...no matter how small the town is, if there's a parade, a festival, a boucherie, or a fais do-do, we are going to anticipate there being a large crowd and will be there early.

Which brings us to the Mamou-Iota Mardi Gras Folklife Festival held today in Iota, LA.

Adopting this strategy put us in Iota early enough to find a good parking spot--so good that, as I learned later, it was along the parade and resulted in our truck being barricaded within the parade area.

Fortunately, we had intended to stay for the parade...some five hours later.

Our first stop was at the Young Musicians Tent. Here a House Band performed with young musicians filling in for 15-minute segments. One of the first youngsters joining the band was nine-year-old Isiah Lejeune (right) on drums.

He was followed by Luke Huval, accordion and vocals,

Zach Fuselier, fiddle and vocals, and

later, Bubba Hebert, accordion and vocals.

Iota is a town with a population of less than 2,000, located about 30 miles northwest of Lafayette. By mid-morning, several thousand people had congregated in the three-block-long downtown area for the celebration.

The Les Bassettes Cajun Band was playing and people were dancing on the raised stage (shown in the far right of the photo) in the center of town.

The air was filled with the aroma of cracklins frying in lard (I know, I know, but the aroma of fried pieces of pork fat with a small amount of attached skin is intoxicating).

Only Cajun foods were available at the food booths. In addition to cracklins, there was crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, beignets, poor boys, BBQ pork sandwiches, fried alligator, boudin balls, corn maqcheaux, bread pudding, and pralines.

As we walked along the length of Main Street that had been barricaded, we passed people ready to party (photos left and below).

The brilliant sun resulted in some cases of sunburn. But on Spiderman's head?

The message was clear. This will be a family fun celebration.

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