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Let the good times roll in Culpeper

The mention of Mardi Gras tends to conjure images of wild fun and licentious behavior on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans.

But outside that storied district—in the suburbs and more rural environs—the party goes on as well, though with a less hedonistic atmosphere. Families and entire communities gather to watch parades, eat, dance and listen to music.

Visitors to Downtown Culpeper can experience this kind of Mardi Gras on Saturday as the town holds its own Carnival.

“This is the second year we are having the Carnival celebration, and last year it exceeded all of our expectations,” said Missy Vesuna of Culpeper Renaissance, the organizers of the event.

The good times begin to roll at 8 a.m. Saturday with a pancake breakfast at the Depot.

By 10:30 a.m., visitors can get into the spirit of Mardi Gras by picking up masks to be decorated at the Museum of Culpeper History.

Mardi Gras beads, a staple during the Mardi Gras season, will be given out on the streets.

“The Carnival is a great way for people to get out and enjoy themselves during the winter,” said Vesuna.

Local musicians and artists will be playing along the street in front of the restaurants and businesses taking part in the day’s festivities, and eight eateries will serve dishes traditional to southern Louisiana.

A sample of dining choices includes the Copper Fish seafood restaurant, which will enhance its menu with crawfish étouffée, sausage and shrimp jambalaya and seafood gumbo.

Knakel’s Bakery is selling king cakes and beignets, the powdered doughnuts made famous by Café du Monde in New Orleans.

And speaking of Café du Monde, the Raven’s Nest Coffee House will be serving their brand of chicory coffee.

“I started offering Mardi Gras-themed specials when I opened the Raven’s Nest in 2007 and it became pretty popular with my customers,” said owner Jessica Hall.

In addition to chicory coffee, Hall will offer gumbo, andouille sausage cornballs, king cake, pralines and the New Orleans favorite, red beans and rice.

So get out and enjoy the sunny day promised by the weatherman and have a happy Mardi Gras!

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: Culpeper Downtown Carnival

WHERE: Most activities take place on East Davis Street

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 9, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

COST: Free to enter

INFO: culpeperdowntown.com, 540/825-4416

Craig Schulin: 540/374-5403

cschulin@freelancestar.com

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