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Thursday, July 31, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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The Jenning’s Mardi Gras parade will roll through the streets at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. it will begin at the corner of north Main street and Shankland Avenue near James Ward Elementary School and continue along Main street. (American Press Archives)

The Jenning’s Mardi Gras parade will roll through the streets at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. it will begin at the corner of north Main street and Shankland Avenue near James Ward Elementary School and continue along Main street. (American Press Archives)

Jennings puts squeeze on Fat Tuesday

Last Modified: Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:40 AM

By Doris Maricle / American Press

JENNINGS — The city is putting the squeeze on Fat Tuesday on Saturday with its 22nd annual Mardi Gras Parade and Festival.

The pre-Mardi Gras celebration features a day of family fun with music, dancing, shopping, food and a parade, said Michelle Hebert, city project coordinator.

“The festival has always been a favorite because it is family friendly and we have a good-size parade with some really good throws.”

Activities will begin at 11 a.m. with craft and food vendors and other activities in Founder’s Park, which will be decorated for Mardi Gras.

The fun will continue at 11:30 a.m. with the Squeezebox Shootout Cajun Accordion Championship in the Strand Theatre, 432 N. Main St. The parade will roll down Main Street at 4:30 p.m., followed by live music in the park.

Doors for the Squeezebox Shootout will open at 11 a.m. General admission is $7. Admission for those age 60 and over is $5; it’s free for ages 12 and under.

“We are gearing up to have a great Cajun Squeezebox Shootout again this year,” Hebert said. “Judging by the positive responses we’re getting from the public and the Cajun music industry, this year’s contest promises to be fun and exciting for everyone involved.”

The shootout is open to Cajun (single-row diatonic) accordion players of all ages and performance levels.

“The caliber of the talent that the Squeezebox draws is unreal,” Hebert said.

Steve Riley and Wilson Savoy were contestants last year. Both won a Grammy Award the next night, she said.

“It is also exciting to see the young accordionists who are just learning to play and who are taking an interest in the Cajun tradition,” Hebert said.

A panel of five judges from the Cajun music industry will score the competition. Judging will be based on Cajun music knowledge, fingering style and skill, performance and stage presence.

There will be four divisions: youth, ages 12 and under; junior, ages 13-18; adults, ages 19 and older; and professional. There is no entry fee for the contest, but accordionists must register to compete.

“The winners will not only have the reward of being recognized as a world-class champion accordion player, but cash prizes and trophies will be awarded to the top contestants in the first three divisions,” Hebert said.

In all, more than $3,000 in cash prizes and trophies will be awarded.

Music will continue in Founder’s Park at 3:30 p.m. with T-Jam DJ Services spinning music.

The city’s Mardi Gras Parade rolls through the streets at 4:30 p.m. It begins at the corner of North Main Street and Shankland Avenue near James Ward Elementary School and continues along Main Street.

The parade traditionally draws more than 60 entries, including dozens of Mardi Gras crews, oversized floats, horses and motorcycles.

Immediately after the parade, Second Tyme Around will entertain 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Founder’s Park.

All events, except the Shootout, are free to the public. For more information, call Hebert at 821-5532 or City Hall at 821-5500.

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