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Mardi Gras – February 8-13

Mardi Gras
What do you call six days filled with fun, food and frivolity in the middle of a snowy winter in Red River, New Mexico?

Mardi Gras in the Mountains!

It is sponsored and produced by the Red River Chamber of Commerce and is in its 27th year.

The observance of Fat Tuesday, which precedes the beginning of the Lenten season, has become a joyful part of the high country calendar and has developed into a Grand Tradition in the Red River style of celebrating life.

FYI: The Red River style of celebration of Mardi Gras includes an element of chasing the spectre of cabin fever from the door during a chilled and snow-covered winter.        In the early days of Red River City – 1895 to 1905 – when the miners searched the mountain streams and the river for any signs of color in the form of gold and silver, cabin fever was a real and life-altering part of the rainbow chaser’s life. Most people left the valley for warmer climes at the first hint of traitor cold winds or snow.

No electricity, no TV, radio, internet, cell phones or Netflix to while away the long, dark nights. There were books to read by firelight and kerosene lamp.

Flash forward to 1992 and the first appearance of Mardi Gras in the Mountains. Visitors from Louisiana brought bright, colorful beads, fancy feathered masks, gallons of gumbo, crawfish to boil and a spirit of fun that left no doubt that life is to be enjoyed to the fullest.

To observe the 27th anniversary of the best winter party in the state of New Mexico and, for that matter, the Great Southwest, there will be Cajun music by award-winning Forest Huval & Bon Temps (pronounced Bon Ton), bead tosses, costume balls and kids costume contests, Cajun and Creole food, a parade down Main Street, a mixologists’ contest featuring the best bartenders in town, and the burning of the dreaded Loup (pronounce Loo) Garou!

FYI: Loup Garou is a boogie man/werewolf who haunts the rice and cane fields and a bayou dweller who is often used to frighten children and anyone else who is in need of frightening.

In Red River, it has become the opening night tradition of Mardi Gras to stuff an effigy of Loup with the written troubles of your life, jotted on small scraps of paper. When the  Loup Garou burns, so does all the bad “juju” which plagued you. Your troubles go up in smoke!

Then everyone goes into The Motherlode for a Cajun feast and the first Grand Ball of  the Mardi Gras.

From that point, Fat Tuesday goes full bore, especially for the mystic Krewes who have put in organizational time and effort, not to mention cold cash, to see that visitors share in the fun and the spirit of the celebration. In addition to the locals, there are Krewes from Louisiana and Texas who make the trek to Red River for some genuine Mardi Gras in the Mountains memories!