Mardis Gras comes to Lloyd

By Geoff Lee

January 30, 2017 1:04 PM

FAT SATURDAY The 20th annual Mardi Gras will take place Feb. 11 with two stages of performers for non stop entertainment just like what occurred in this photo of the 2015 fundraiser for local school music and drama programs. FILE LLS PHOTO

Fat Tuesday in Lloydminster will take place this year on a Saturday.
The upcoming celebration on Feb. 11, better known as Mardi Gras, is a fundraiser for local performing arts at local schools and a heck of a party for those who buy tickets.
“Raising money for performing arts is really important right now with cutbacks and everything else,” said Cindy Gratton, president of Friends of the Performing Arts (FOPA) that runs the event.
“It’s so vital in children’s learning and culture and education, so having an event like Mardi Gras is great.”
In the past, FOPA has contributed to school band, music and drama programs, dance and music festivals, and various scholarships.                                                                   
FOPA is now partnered with the Lloydminster Public School Division to facilitate private music lesson instruction  within the public school system.                                                   
Gratton is a private piano teacher who teaches during the school day at various LPSD schools.  “Money to support that is really important,” she said.
“The Mardi Gras event showcases local artists and performers, so it’s kind of a dual purpose there.”
FOPA vice-president, Hannah Bexson, who also teaches music at school, describes Mardi Gras as a big party with a whole bunch of local bands.
“We have two stages so we have a big band on the big stage and a busker on the small stage in between the big bands—something is going on constantly,” she said.
The busking stage will feature, one, two or three person performers for non-stop entertainment.
This will be the 20th annual Mardi Gras featuring local musicians, rock bands, jazz bands and belly dancers from Ladies of Raq in a New Orleans style party.
There should be 10 bands in all including the Holy Rosary High School jazz band and a Lloydminster Comprehensive High School garage band.
This will be Bexson’s 10th year as a FOPA volunteer who played in a school jazz band in the very first Mardi Gras in 1997.
“My daughter Grace will be playing in it this year with her high school jazz band,” said Bexson.
“She’ll be playing the piano, she also plays the trumpet.”
Mardi Gras will start at 7 p.m. at the Stockade Convention Centre and run until 1 a.m. with guests invited to dress up just as they do in New Orleans.
There will be costume prizes for best male, best female, best couple, and best group with Jambalaya served at 11 p.m.
“We are expecting a good turnout this year—the economy is starting to pick back up and people’s spirits are lifted,” said Gratton.
She says get out of the house and cure those winter blues at Mardi Gras.
“We have a really good base of supporters who come back year after year because it’s one of the best parties in town,” she said.
“Our ticket prices are very reasonable, so we’re hoping to have a great crowd this year.”
Tickets are available online at vicjubatheatre.ca for $42 a person or $400 for a corporate table for eight.
Organizers from FOPA have sent our flyers and are still looking for additional sponsors.
“We are always appreciative of sponsors and stuff because every dollar that is raised goes into the community for performing arts,” said Gratton.

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