Tallahassee Celebrates ArtiGras
By Vasty Paul
Just because Mardi Gras is in New Orleans does not mean you have to miss out on the enjoyment of the event. The 6th Annual ArtiGras Festival was held in Railroad Square Art Park.
Railroad Square, Tallahassee’s former industrial center turned art park located on Industrial Drive off of Railroad Avenue, provided the opportunity to be immersed in the rich Cajun and Creole culture of New Orleans, while simultaneously celebrating the community of Tallahassee.
Beads were thrown, Cajun cuisine eaten, bands parading, and jugglers juggling. The two-part festival gave the Tallahassee community a chance to experience the fun of New Orleans’ streets during Mardi Gras and asks everyone to participate.
The event kicked off at 2 p.m. with family and children’s activities, like a scavenger hunt and craft-making opportunities. Then at 4:30 a music-filled parade circling the entire park started. The parade incorporated many local schools and bands, all led by the park’s resident acting troupe Mickee Faust.
After the parade, musicians gathered at the park’s main field where the entertainment continued into the night. The festival’s latter half is a 21 and up field concert-masquerade beginning at 6 p.m. Craft beer, food, music and dance lessons, as well as other entertainment were available for attendants to enjoy.
Director of ArtiGras Laura Floyd was the one in charge of the event and planning for ArtiGras and says, “this year was a great turnout.” The main attraction, though, is Grammy nominated musician Cedric Watson and the Bijou Creole who begin performing at 9. p.m. The band played Cajun and Creole themed music, and Watson leads as the main singer and fiddle player.
This family-friendly, Mardi Gras themed event also included art vendors, musical performances, food trucks, and a parade at 4:30 p.m. At 7 p.m., the night steamed off with a masquerade concert under the stars featuring New Orleans’ native and four-time Grammy nominated singer, accordionist and fiddler, Cedric Watson.
More than 4,500 people came to last year’s daytime festival. About 500 people attended Cedric Watson’s concert and the masquerade. Last year’s Artigras even broke records, as it was the single largest event, outside of First Fridays (a monthly art showing), in Railroad Square’s 30 year existence.
Kellie Peterson and Dorie Diblin, students at Florida State University, attended Artigras and said their experience was “an exciting twist to Mardi Gras.”
ArtiGras, presented by Sixpoint Brewery, is an illuminating and authentic celebration of the spirit of New Orleans, and a playground for people of all ages! Recreating the free-spirited carnival atmosphere of New Orleans’ famous streets, this is truly an open community celebration where everyone enjoyed the enriching and fun activities for kids and families.