The weather might be freezing at the Tee Mamou Mardi Gras Folk Festival in Iota, but that didn’t stop anyone from going out, enjoying the Cajun cuisine, and breaking a leg on the dance floor to some Zydeco music.
Festival President Joel Cart says people from around the world come to celebrate in Iota for the festivals well kept traditions specifically the arrival of the Tee Mamou Courir de Mardi Gras, who ride into town on a wagon after festival attendees have had a full day of food, crafts and dancing.
“A screen mask and its made of window screen. They make a mask and they decorate it all different kinds of ways. The long hat is called a copuchon.” said Cart.
The courir throws candy instead of beads. Then join together on stage to sing a traditional European chant in french, dating back 400 years. After, they roam the crowd dancing with any available women and begging for loose change.
“Tee-so-sue means little nickel and that’s like their way of begging and actually when they get that money they give it to the local fire departments. They don’t keep it, its just part of the tradition.” said Cart.
As part of the folklife festival vendors set up along the streets. Clint Bischoff brings his children to the parade to sell their family honey.
“Iota doesn’t have the negative Mardi Gras association that other areas have because its a family festival .” said Bischoff.
Iota is proud to claim the only raised dance floor in the area. To one local couple, the stage and Mardi Gras festival has a sentimental meaning.
“My name is Louie Cart and this is my wife Linda and we were married twenty one years ago right here on this stage.” said Cart.
For all the reasons people came out to enjoy the folk-life festival, Iota didn’t seem to disappoint.