The Bull City has a version of Mardi Gras and its ninth annual edition begins tonight.
The party starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10 with the “Samedi Gras Great Big Fat Saturday Bash” and then culminates with Fat Tuesday festivities at various downtown locations Tuesday night.
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Saturday’s bash blends North Carolina and New Orleans culture. It will feature Chapel Hill favorites Ellis Dyson and the Shambles. They put an exuberant and youthful spin on traditional North Carolina folk music. The open act will be Durham’s Bulltown Strutters. They’re known for their wacky take on New Orleans second line culture.
The event is at Old Murphey School, 3717 Murphy School Road, starting at 8 p.m. Admission is $12.
The first 100 people to arrive will receive free red beans and rice. New Orleans-style grilled and raw oysters and craft beer by Mystery Brewing will be on the menu, too.
Tuesday’s free celebration marks the ninth year for Durham’s Mardi Gras. There will be five stages with live music, multiple street celebrations and a myriad of quirky and uniquely Durham traditions.
Area artists and musicians who started Durham’s Mardi Gras celebration faced naysayers nine years ago. But the festivities have grown since then.
Businesses along the 700 block Riggsbee Avenue have turned that stretch of road into the Bull City’s best impression of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, at least on Fat Tuesday. Motorco (723 Rigsbee Ave.), Fullsteam Brewery (726 Rigsbee Ave.) and The Bar (711 Rigsbee Ave.) are hosting events along with The Blue Note Grill (709 Washington St.) and The Pit Authentic Barbecue (321 W Geer St.)
The party starts at CCB Plaza at 6 p.m. where the Bulltown Strutters will play for 30 minutes. At 6:30, the League of the Tutu will conduct the ceremonial placing of The Tutu on Major the Bull. The Bulltown Strutters then will lead a “ramble” of about five blocks from the bull to Motorco for the rest of the night’s events.
Venues hosting musical acts will showcase sounds with both Louisiana and Carolina roots.
Durham’s krewes, some of which date back to the beginning of Durham Mardi Gras, will be visible around downtown during the celebration.
Tuesday Mardi Gras schedule
6 p.m. — The Bulltown Strutters play
6:30 p.m. — The League of the Tutu – Ceremonial placing of The Tutu on Major the Bull
7 p.m. — The Bulltown Strutters will “ramble” from the bull to Motorco
Motorco (723 Rigsbee Ave.)
7:30-8:30 p.m. — Boom Unit Brass Band
9-11 p.m. — The Bulltown Strutters
The Blue Note Grill (709 Washington St.)
8:15-9:30 p.m. — The Wiley Fosters
10-11:15 p.m. — Coleslaw
Fullsteam Brewery (726 Rigsbee Ave.)
8-9:15 p.m. — The Tan and Sober Gentlemen
9:45-11 p.m. — The Ragweed Brass
The Pit Authentic Barbecue (321 W Geer St.)
8:15-9:30 p.m. — The Cajammers
10-11:15 p.m. — Shamu Garcon
The Bar (711 Rigsbee Ave.)
9 p.m. — The Mardi Gras Drag Show