St. Louis practices its French

Thursday, January 17, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- Mardi Gras Day isn't until Feb. 2 in St. Louis, but the city has already begun celebrating.

Mardi Gras activities kicked off in St. Louis last weekend with the Soulard Mardi Gras House Decorating Contest, but a large slate of events is yet to take place.

Up first is the Wine Taste from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at Mad Art Gallery -- 2727 S. 12th St. -- and Lemp Grand Hall -- 1817 Cherokee St.

Events continue with the Crystal Cajun Cook-Off, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Casa Loma Ballroom at 3354 Iowa Ave. at Cherokee Street. Twenty chefs, professional and amateur, will compete in a variety of categories.

The Children's Arts Fair on Sunday allows families to get in on Mardi Gras activities. On Jan. 26 and 27, the Southern Comfort Taste of Soulard happens in the Soulard district, where neighborhood restaurants will offer samples of their signature dishes in a self-guided tour.

The Beggin' Strips Barkus Pet Parade takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Menard and Allen streets. The parade is billed as one of the largest pet parades in the world.

On Feb. 1, city hall will host The Mayor's Ball -- A Mardi Gras Masquerade before Mardi Gras on Feb. 2 starting with the Lumiere Place Grand Parade from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information on St. Louis Mardi Gras, go to

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