Cajun Mardi Gras — Courier de Mardi Gras

I have a love affair with Louisiana. They say this state gets under your skin. I’ve heard one non-native living here compare this mysterious Louisiana effect to malaria, a bold-borne condition that flares up from time to time.  New visitors should be warned: this is a state that holds you captive in ways you cannot yet imagine. There may be period of dormancy, but you will have the uncontrollable urge to return. And there is nothing you can do about it.

But I digress before I even get to the point!

I had the opportunity to participate and photograph the Courier de Mardi Gras, a Cajun version of Mardi Gras in Eunice, Louisiana this year – quite a bit muddier than the fancy-pants sparkle of the New Orleans Mardi Gras, but the Louisiana spirit (so hard to describe) was one and the same. This should be a bucket item list – to run, dance and generally frolic through 15 miles of bayou-land and crawfish fields with the big-hearted, mostly Cajun locals. You will no longer feel that you are in continental United States. Strangely familiar French phrases and songs abound. In fact, it is likely that you will no longer feel that you are in the present day. The landscape is timeless, evocative of  another pre-commercialized era when little changed from year to year. In keeping with the Cajun custom, the costumes that the runners wear are handmade (many by the wonderful Georgie Manuel, a seamstress in Eunice), a nod to how costumes have been traditionally scrabbled together from various scraps of cloth and burlap by the rural poor. No glitter to be found here. But the spirit of Mardi Gras is exactly the same.

4 Comments

  1. Cindi Manuel Detraz

    The wonderful incomparable Georgie Allen is, in fact, Georgie and Allen Manuel, costume and mask makers of several generations. Their costumes are strictly traditional Cajun….no purple, green, and gold here. And Georgie, a tiny,cheerful woman can hold you spellbound with her limitless knowledge of Cajun customs, especially Mardi Gras. She has hosted film crews and journalists from all over the world, all in the interest of educating others in our unique and amazing culture. I know all these facts because I am her daughter.

  2. janice

    Do you know where I can purchase the Cajun screen masks. I am from mamou.

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