Basile and other rural communities are known for their Courirs de Mardi Gras, but this weekend, they were able to bring their traditional run to Vermilionville, to show people in the city how they celebrate Mardi Gras.
“The three words I’ll tell you are heritage, culture and tradition. My family’s been involved in it for years and years and I’m just trying to keep it alive so that the Cajun culture doesn’t die,” said the president of the Basile Mardi Gras Association, Potic Rider.
A Courir de Mardi Gras is unlike any other. While there are no floats or throws, the celebration is nothing short of entertaining and rooted in their culture, which is what they hope to pass on to the next generation.
“I can’t express the feeling that it gives you, It’s awesome. Most of these Mardi Gras they come from within you, the families were born with it. You get that feeling and you just can’t stop,” said Rider.
Hundreds of people, ranging from children to adults, came out to learn and participate.
“Their mother makes them these costumes and it’s our tradition. We’re all Cajun and we’re hoping to keep things going and I think it’s what makes it so special living down here,” said one reveler, Paul Simon, whose kids were enjoying the event.
Just as they do on Mardi Gras day, runners went from house to house, singing and begging for money and gumbo ingredients.
“The song tells where we come from, what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what we’re going to do with what we got. And then we’re inviting the people that give us things to come and eat gumbo with us that night,” said the president of the association.
The last ingredient was their toughest to get. Runners, including the children at the event, ran around chasing the chickens.
Rider said they don’t kill the chickens they chase for the gumbo, as they did back in the day, but they continue with the tradition.
“They’re not going to just hand you the chickens, you know. You got to work for it. You have to chase it and catch it if you want it,” he said.
“I like chasing the chickens but I never catch them,” said one of the kids at the event.
After all the activity, the fun was not over. People got to end the day dancing.
“We’re one of the only places in the world where this is still an active tradition and a lot of people don’t know or they’re not able to get out and go see it. So it gives us an opportunity to be like ‘hey come out to Vermilionville,’ and have a little bit of a look of what this is and have an understanding of where our culture comes from,” said the director of music operations at Vermilionville, Brady McKellar.
“The kids are most important, teaching them, letting them enjoy this and learn the heritage and stuff,” said Rider.