My previous post showed my friend David and me in our Cajun Mardi Gras costumes and masks. This post describes the Faquetaigue Courir de Mardi Gras, with photos by David.
In Cajun Louisiana, Mardi Gras is celebrated with a Courir de Mardi Gras, or Mardi Gras Run, in which costumed and masked participants (each participant called a Mardi Gras) trek from farm to farm on horseback or on foot to beg ingredients for a community gumbo, which is cooked and shared later in the day.
David and I spent Mardi Gras in Cajun Louisiana, expecting to watch a Courir de Mardi Gras as it departed or arrived in one of the towns. Serendipitously, we received an invitation to participate in a Courir! A woman named Andrea, with whom we chatted at the pre-Mardi Gras festivities in Eunice, told us about the events organized by her daughter and son-in-law, Kelly and Lance Petri, who own and run L'Acadie Inn on the outskirts of Eunice. We decided to drop by L'Acadie Inn, where we met Kelly and Lance - and where we received an invitation to participate in the Faquetaigue Courir!
To participate in a Courir de Mardi Gras, a proper costume and mask are required. David and I had already made Cajun Mardi Gras costumes and had those with us, so all we needed were masks. My previous post shows how David beautifully embellished two bare-bones Cajun Mardi Gras masks that we purchased in Eunice. Then, we were all set!
On Mardi Gras morning, we met at L'Acadie Inn, and then drove over to the gathering site for the Faquetaigue Courir. Faquetaigue, as I understand it, is the name given to a group of small communities on the outskirts of Eunice. The word "faquetaigue" means "turkey" in one of the Native American Indian languages. It is pronounced something like this: fack-ee-tie-yay.
Below, you see the Mardi Gras gathering in their costumes and masks prior to the Courir.
|The Mardi Gras gather for the Faquetaigue Courir de Mardi Gras!|
|Babies gather, too, in the arms of their dads!|
|The Mardi Gras walk from one farm to another.|
|The Mardi Gras beg for gumbo ingredients on their knees!|
|Musicians with the Courir play Cajun music in a farmyard to thank our hosts!|
|The Mardi Gras thank our hosts and celebrate by dancing!|
|And more dancing!|
One of our last stops was at the grave of Dennis McGee, one of the first Cajun musicians to be recorded, and his wife, Gladys. Out of respect for Dennis and Gladys and their contributions to Cajun culture, the Faquetaigue Courir musicians played at their graveside, and a priest led us in prayer: we said the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.
At the end of the Courir, David and I were exhausted! We didn't have the energy to stay around for the gumbo, but went back to our motel and crashed!
ADDITIONAL INTERESTING POINTS about the Faquetaigue Courir de Mardi Gras.
- TREME. The Faquetaigue Courir de Mardi Gras is the one shown in Season 2 of the television series Treme.
- MUSIC. The Faquetaigue Courir is one of the most musical Courirs. Cajun musicians accompany the Courir and play as the Mardi Gras walk from farm to farm and then dance in each farmyard.
- PROPER COSTUME AND MASK. Everyone in the Faquetaigue Courir must wear a Cajun Mardi Gras costume and mask. No beads, trinkets, or other items specific to New Orleans Mardi Gras are allowed.
- PARTICIPATION. Participation is required! Everyone in the Faquetaigue Courir must help in begging for gumbo ingredients (and sometimes chasing chickens) and must thank the hosts by dancing! No spectators!
- LES VILAINS. The rules are enforced by "vilains," who wield whips made of rope with which they actually hit any Mardi Gras who gets out of line! There is a lot of good-natured "provoking" of the "vilains" and engaging in mock fights, which the "vilains" run to break up with their whips!
- MY TREATMENT BY THE VILAINS. Much to my surprise, far from being flicked with the whip, I was treated quite respectfully by the "vilains," who several times offered me their arm to step over an especially muddy puddle!
- AGE. The Faquetaigue Courir is relatively new. It was founded in 2006. Also, the Mardi Gras on the Faquetaigue Courir tend to be young - in their 20s and 30s. David and I were the oldest participants, but we found the young people very friendly and happy to talk with us.
- A huge thank-you to DAVID for creating our awesome masks and taking the wonderful photos in this blog post!
- A huge thank-you to the very generous and hospitable KELLY AND LANCE PITRE OF L'ACADIE INN just outside Eunice and to Kelly's mother, ANDREA. Check out L'Acadie Inn at its wonderfully named website: http://www.hotboudin.com !