That’s for lagniappe: The holiday calendar gets better with each Asheville Mardi Gras

Mixing up Mardi Gras: Glo Babcock (left) and Jodi Rhoden prepare to host a Fat Tuesday birthday bash and community get-together at Short Street Cakes. Photo by Max Cooper

What we used to go to NOLA for, the NOLA ex-pats now bring to us. Mardi Gras has become an Asheville holiday, and this year, we’ll get parties (and a parade!) all weekend before Fat Tuesday, and more on the day proper.

Join in or just gander, says press for the 2013 Asheville Mardi Gras Parade and Ball. Festivities for the local Mardi Gras weekend kick off Thursday, Feb. 7 with tours featuring David Earle and the Plowshares) on the LaZoom Bus. Cost is $10 and benefits the parade.

On Friday, Feb. 8, it's the Running of the Winos bar hop. Dress in “garish galloping garb,” and meet at 6 p.m. at 5 Walnut. At 7:15 p.m., time to run to Sante. At 8:45 p.m., time to run to MG Road.

On Saturday, Feb. 9 Studio ZaPow! hosts a Steamboat Punk Carnival Show with art, free beer and “a very special intimate acoustic performance of The Extraordinary Contraptions.” Also on Saturday, Olive or Twist hosts Cajun dance lessons and a part from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Grove House is hosting a weekend’s worth of Mardi Gras events, with a Krew Party on Saturday night, a Mardi Gras ball on Sunday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. and a Fat Tuesday celebration with Russ Wilson & His Nouveau Passe Orchestra on Feb. 12. Find more on Facebook.

The pièce de résistance is the Sunday, Feb. 10 parade through downtown Asheville, beginning at 3:05 p.m. This year’s theme? French Broads and Odd Fellows. The Queen's Ball follows immediately after at Pack's Tavern. The ball features Cajun/zydeco from Bayou Diesel, drum and dance from Zabumba, Asheville Second Line and the dance troupe Eternity from the Urban Arts Institute. More info at http://www.ashevillemardigras.org.

Celebrate Fat Tuesday and east-West Asheville

Mardi Gras is a cake holiday, explains Jodi Rhoden, owner of Short Street Cakes. “It's this excess, this extra thing that you don't need but makes life better,” she says. “Mardi Gras embodies a lot of what I feel about cake.”

Birthdays are also about cake, so when a cake shop's birthday party converges with a decadent holiday, the result is pretty sweet. The shop is throwing a big bash for Fat Tuesday, Feb. 12, to celebrate its fourth year as well as its neighborhood.

Many of the surrounding businesses have pitched in prizes for a raffle. Proceeds benefit the garden at the nearby Hall Fletcher Elementary. The loot comes from Bookworks, Hot Stuff Tattoo, The Admiral, West Asheville Lounge and Kitchen, Harvest Records, Bari Salon, Point Health Collective, Second Gear, Gas-Up, Flora, Small Terrain, Double Crown, B&B Pharmacy, BattleCat Coffee, Hanks BBQ and more. Tickets cost $5 each, and winners don't have to attend the party to receive their prize.

Troy and Sons Moonshine is sponsoring the event, and Glo Babcock, Asheville's resident expert on all things New Orleans, will create cocktails for the party. There will also be beer, wine, live music, beads and, of course, cake.

The event takes place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Short Street Cakes is located at 225 Haywood Road. They're borrowing the space next door to the shop for overflow, so there should be plenty of room for merry-makers.

Want to keep the party going? Around the corner, the Double Crown is hosting a Mardi Gras party with live music, drink specials, king cake and New Orleans flair.

Co-owner Chris Bower will miss the party, but he won't miss Mardi Gras. He's heading down to New Orleans for the real deal.

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