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Sunday, September 22, 2019

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Mardi Gras in Minnesota

Mardi Gras in Minnesota

Most people in the North Central portion of the United States know very little about Mardi Gras and what it entails. For this reason on the third week of August every year, Calvin Parfait and the “Treater” band of Houma, take Mardi Gras to Walker, Minnesota, a little town located approximately 150 miles south of the United States and Canadian border.

This Mardi Gras celebration takes place on the Ojibwe Indian reservation and is part of the annual “biggest and best Cajun Fest in the mid-west.”

The Louisiana group includes about 25 individuals, all their luggage, musical instruments, approximately 60 large cases of Mardi Gras beads, Mardi Gras costumes and Cajun food used for cooking under the big tent.

The almost 1,500 miles from South Louisiana to Walker, Minnesota involved a plane trip, split into two flights with a lay-over and a four and a half hour bus ride to reach the festival grounds.

A truck with a 24-foot enclosed bed was rented to carry the necessary equipment, food and clothes up north. Two men drove the truck to Walker in a grueling 28-hour trip which involved two fourteen hour days of constant driving.

Although the personnel and equipment arrived on site by Wednesday, August 16th, that day was set aside for setting up the equipment, the stage and the Louisiana decorations.

At noon on Thursday, August 17th, the three-day “Cajun Fest 2017” finally began. The entertainment this year included the “Treater” band of Houma, featuring Charles Mann of “Red, Red, Wine” fame, from Lake Charles; the Grammy Award winning Chubby Carrier and his band from Scott, the “Basin Brothers” band from Cecilia, and Roland Cheramie of Golden Meadow and friends.

Participants feasted on typical Cajun festival food we’re all so used to, such as alligator, fried fish, shrimp boulettes, shrimp patties, po-boys, jambalaya, and more.

Since it began in 1992, the Louisiana group kept getting invited to go back, and they gladly accept. The people loved dancing to Cajun music, Zedeco music, and French music, along with Swamp Pop music, too.

The Cajun connection to Minnesota is looking forward to doing it all again in 2018, and the Minnesotans are looking forward to it, too.