Central Alberta is set to have a taste and sound of Cajun culture on Nov. 15th at the Elk’s Lodge as the Central Music Festival Society hosts the Mardi Gras Gala.
The Gala is part of a string of fundraising events aiming to bring back the Central Music Festival, which was cancelled last year due to financial strains.
The evening features dishes including French quarter Cajun toast with smoked oysters, spicy grilled vegetables, Louisiana candied sweet potatoes and greens, shrimp or crawdaddy etouffe (depending on availability of crawfish), and pecan praline beignets stuffed with peaches in buttered maple bourbon sauce among other treats.
It’s no wonder Mardi Gras is French for ‘Fat Tuesday’ as traditionally the celebration is the last hurrah before Lent associated fasting begins.
Mike Bradford, Central Music Festival producer, explained the history of Mardi Gras and the Cajun culture dates back to a time when a group of French Canadians were kicked out of Canada after they refused to pledge allegiance to the British queen.
On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles south of New Orleans, and named it ‘Pointe du Mardi Gras’ when his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday on which Lent was to begin.
“After being kicked out of Canada the Acadians relocated to Louisiana and because of that there is a very French influence on the culture in Louisiana that has come to be known as Cajun,” said Bradford. “There is a huge food and music culture in Louisiana that is very influenced by the French and the Spanish and these influences have led to what’s called Creole style cooking and those in attendance at our gala will experience this firsthand.”
Bradford explained that entertainment for the evening is sure to have folks kicking their boots in the air on the dance floor to the Acadian, Cajun-inspired tunes of ‘Crystal the Cajun Cowgirl, the Mississippi mermaid, and her rocking Acadian band’.
“Crystal has ties not only to Acadians but she has done extensive travelling throughout the southern states and Louisiana in particular and that really comes across in her music,” said Bradford. “If you’ve ever been down to Louisiana you know their style of music is an anything goes, mixed mash of genres and you will see that from our performers.”
Bradford said the only thing he is more excited for than the gala is the hopeful return of the Central Music Festival next summer.
“We’ve had a lot of successful fundraisers in the last year and we are excited looking forward for 2015’s festival, and as we go along we are hoping to get enough money together to get more prominent acts to headline the festival,” he explained. “There will be likely be quite a few changes in how we do things and how the festival will be formatted but our board still has all of these things up in the air. But we seem to be getting things in great shape.
“We want to keep building this support and awareness within the Red Deer community and we hope citizens will see the Central Music Festival for what it is and ultimately when it starts to attract a sizable crowd it will have an economic benefit to local businesses as well.”
For ticket information for the Mardi Gras event, visit www.centralmusicfest.com.