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Cowboy Mardi Gras returns next week

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The vibrant colors and wackiness of Mardi Gras will start to descend on Bandera in another week as the 15th annual edition of the Cowboy Mardi Gras gets going at the scene of the festive, four-day party, the 11th Street Cowboy Bar.

The bar put together the funfilled celebration that combines the Cajun traditions of Mardi Gras with the country flavors of Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World, as a way to grow its business. The results have been a gold mine not only for the cowboy bar but also for the city.

No other event the city and its business organizations put on draws the crowds the Cowboy Mardi Gras does, tourism officials have said.

“When you’re taking about ‘heads in beds,’ (Cowboy Mardi Gras) is going to fill Bandera and a portion of Kerrville and the surrounding area,” said Bandera County Convention and Visitors Bureau President Greg Hicks. “And that trickles down to the merchants and other businesses in Bandera…It’s good for Bandera County.”

The festivities get started on Wednesday, Feb. 12, when the cowboy bar hosts Cajun Steak Night from 6-10 p.m., featuring the music of Gerard Delafose & The Zydeco Gators.

It has no cover charge, but entry fees for bands performing and the events going on the rest of the week range from $15 to $30 dollars.

Among the bands scheduled to play through Saturday, Feb. 15, are Dustin Sonnier & the Wanted, George Dearborne & Branded, Dr. Zog and Wayne Toups. Check the cowboy bar’s website, under the “event calendar” tab, for the entertainment schedule and cover charges.

Music isn’t the only thing that packs them in during the Cowboy Mardi Gras.

Other activities like a Canine Costume Contest, scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m., an Adult Costume Contest, planned for Saturday, Feb. 15, at 2:15 p.m., and Chicken Bingo planned for Friday, Feb. 14, at 4:30 p.m. have gotten popular, and the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff also has a host of loyal followers.

Teams will compete for the gumbo championship prize on Feb. 15 beginning at 8 a.m., and the winners will be announced that same day at 5 p.m.

Also on Feb. 15, the Cowboy Mardi Gras Parade will draw more than 1,000 people to Main Street to watch the cowboys, sparkling floats and other entrants who signed up for that event and to catch the beads and candy that parade participants throw to the crowd.

An Arts and Crafts Show will be put on in the Bandera County courthouse square in the 500 block of Main Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 15 as well.

The Mardi Gras celebration has gotten so popular that it has triggered spinoff event around the county put on by different groups.

Two that are scheduled this year are a Cowboy Mardi Grand Bull Riding and Mini Bull Riding event put on by Diamond O Bucking Bulls at Mansfield Park on Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. and a fundraiser sponsored by the Bandera Cowgirls on Feb. 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that will serve Polish and German heritage cuisine, present entertainment by three bands and run a silent auction to raise money for the first phase of development for the Cottages of Silver Sage, a project aimed at constructing small, affordable houses for senior citizens to lease right by the Silver Sage.

That fundraiser will be at the Silver Sage, 803 Buck Creek Dr. in Bandera.