Moscow has had a long love affair with Mardi Gras.In the 1980s, a spirited and sometimes elaborate Mardi Gras parade marched through downtown. The ’90s saw a ball in which attendees dressed in black and white. In the past decade, local pubs have kept up the tradition with a Mardi Gras night of live music and beads.
Remembering the parades she saw as a child on Main Street, Genevieve Bendel, president of the nonprofit Moscow Mardi Gras, is working to restore the event to its former glamour.
“I loved the activities during the day as a kid,” says Bendel, 32. “I want to see Moscow Mardi Gras get back to where it used to be. I wanted it to be a full-day event again.”
One of her aims is to restore the parade. With only seven entries for Saturday’s event they won’t be closing Main Street as originally planned. Instead, festivities will begin at 10 a.m. at Friendship Square.
Daytime activities are free and will be geared toward youth.
“We’re trying to make it more about the kids,” says Bendel, who was born and raised downtown, where her dad and uncle own The Garden Lounge.
A kids’ carnival is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Moscow Moose Lodge. There will be games, popcorn, a mask-making station, arts and crafts and games. Moscow Bagel and Deli is donating sandwiches for lunch, she says.
At 1 p.m., Festival Dance will stage a performance at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre. Dancers will be followed by a singer and songwriter from the CD’A Rock School in Dalton Gardens, Idaho.
Nighttime activities are for ages 21 and older. Six downtown venues will sponsor bands with music starting at 9 p.m. Admission is $15 until 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $20 at the door.
“A lot of people don’t know it’s a charity event,” Bendel says of Moscow Mardi Gras. All proceeds support area youth activities.
Bands will offer an eclectic mix of rock, blues, Americana and punk. Groups include the True Spokes, previously known as Flowmotion; the Clumsy Lovers; and Seattle’s Jim Basnight Band.
Last year Moscow Mardi Gras awarded $7,000 in grants to groups that included Rendezvous, Moscow High School youth groups, Early Learning Services, Gritman Developmental Disabilities Agency, Christmas for Kids, Palouse Area Therapeutic Horsemanship Program, the Officer Newbill Kids Safety Fair and others.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
What: Moscow Mardi Gras
When: Saturday, March 2
The day begins with a a biscuit and gravy breakfast at the Moscow Masonic Lodge from 8-10:30 a.m.
Free kids activities:
10 a.m. Friendship Square festivities
11-2 p.m. Kids carnival, Moscow Moose Lodge
1 p.m. Performances at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre
9 p.m. music begins at downtown venues.
Garden Lounge: Turner-Jones Connection
Moose Lodge: Clumsy Lovers
John’s Alley: True Spokes
Mingles: The Fabulous Kingpins
Eagles: Bare Wires
The Studio: The Jim Basnight Band
Advance tickets for the band tour are $15 until 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20 at the door. Tickets are available in Moscow at the music venues, Safari Pearl, Guitars Friend, and Keeney Bros. Music Center; and at Zeppoz in Pullman.