Costumes and Chickens in Church Point
A Cajun Mardi Gras
Close to 60 years ago, a coin toss set into motion the annual Church Point Courir de Mardi Gras.
The colorful and boisterous event has grown to attract upwards of 40,000 people as spectators of the Courir.
The journey starts with of a group of costumed fiends, better known as the Mardi Gras, on horseback riding to farms throughout the countryside to chase chickens, revel and dance, and ends with a parade through the center of town.
In a holiday featuring so much revelry, the captain and co-captains of the Mardi Gras are appointed to keep the peace and ensure that the rules of the Mardi Gras are being followed.
At each stop along the route, co-captains must ask permission to enter the yard of the owner so the Mardi Gras can engage in their revelry.
After chasing the chicken and dancing to their heart’s content, the Mardi Gras thank the owner for the use of their land before moving on to the next stop.
In Church Point, the Mardi Gras get an early start, gathering as early as 6 a.m. for registration before heading out on their ride around 8 a.m., and later returning to town for the parade around 2 p.m.
When it’s all over, they head to the Saddle Tramp Arena to eat a gumbo and celebrate a day of successful revelry.
According to Church Point business owner, Jean Norman, 79, the original purpose of the colorful costumes was to disguise yourself as you engage in mischievous activities.
Jean has been making Mardi Gras costumes, alongside her husband, Tom Norman, 77, for the past 20 years and enjoys helping to keep Cajun culture alive.
“We’re all about tradition, my costumes have the traditional, capuchons cone hat and the screen masks, which my husband makes,” says Jean. “No two of our costumes are made with the same fabric, so they’re each one of a kind.”
Together, Jean and Tom make costumes out of Le Vieux Moulin Mardi Gras Store, the costume, clock and gift shop they run together in Church Point, and have shipped costumes to places all over the country and even the world.
“We’ve shipped costumes to France, Pennsylvania, San Antonio, and this year we got an order from London, England,” says Jean. “It’s exciting when other countries participate in our Cajun culture.”
Joey Richard is the son of the Church Point resident who was involved in the coin toss nearly 60 years ago.
Richard is Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Saddle Tramp Riders Club, the organization that has planned and run the event for the past 56 years.
According to Richard, around 500 Mardi Gras are expected at this year’s event.
“My father was the one who started the event,” says Richard. “His name was Elton Richard, and he flipped a coin with Senator Paul Tate of Mamou, which determined that Church Point would host their Courir on Sunday and Mamou would hold theirs on a Tuesday.”
The weekend’s events kick off with a kids Courir de Mardi Gras on Saturday, which preludes the adult event on Sunday.
The children in the kid’s Courir ride out on Saturday at 10 a.m. on various wagons and floats to complete their route, before returning to town for the parade around 1:30 p.m.
For more information about the Church Point Courir de Mardi Gras visit www.churchpointmardigras.com or call 337-523-7000.
- Reve After Hours, Feb. 25, 9 p.m. – 12 p.m., Lafayette,
Enjoy the musical stylings of local Indie folk artist, Derrick Savoie, and Lafayette Synth-Pop band, LeTrainiump. Doors open at 9 p.m., there is an eight dollar cover charge and the coffee bar will be running throughout the night.
- Youngsville Mardi Gras Parade, Feb. 25, 11 a.m., Youngsville
The Youngsville Mardi Gras Parade will begin at Fountainview Dr. and end at the Youngsville Sports Complex. The parade will be led by Grand Marshall, Coach Jim Hightower, Head Football Coach at St. Thomas Moore Catholic High School. For more details about the parade contact Youngsville City Hall at 337-856-4181.
- Kevin Naquin & Ossun Playboys, Feb. 25, 7 p.m., Jennings
Friends Supporting Friends, a nonprofit organization that helps alleviate the resulting medical bills that come with cancer treatment, is hosting a dance featuring Kevin Naquin & Ossun Playboys. Doors open at 6 p.m., advanced tickets are $10 and $12 at the door.
- Fourth Annual Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival, Feb. 25, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Baton Rouge
The Fourth Annual Baton Rouge Mardi Gras Festival will take place in North Boulevard Town Square. The diverse lineup includes artists like Louisiana singer/songwriter Larry “LZ” Dillon, blues rapper Lee Tyme, blues hip hop songstress Miss Fenxx and Clarence “Pie Man” Williams and the Baton Rouge Band.