The Burlington Elks Lodge No. 84 is bringing Mardi Gras to Burlington the second year in a row Saturday — literally.
"We're flying in cajun food from Louisiana, so it will be authentic," said Dana Johnston, past exalted ruler of the Elks Lodge No. 84 and esquire to the deputy director of southeast Iowa.
Starting at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Pzazz Convention Center, Mardi Gras Festival will have the look, feel and food of Mardi Gras. That includes all manner of cajun food, hurricane drinks, music, dancing, beads, tarot card readers, “Wheel of Fortune” games and a photo wall.
The money raised during a silent auction will go to local charities. New to the festival this year is a photo wall, similar to the one featured in the long defunct TV show "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In." Attendees are encouraged to wear beads, masks and whatever other Mardi Gras apparel they can grab, but it’s not a requirement.
A king and queen of the festival will be chosen based on their costumes. Weird Harold’s will have costumes to rent, and half the rental rate will go back to the charities represented at the event.
"We're going to have a Mardi Gras parade too," Johnston said.
Johnston said about 45 local charities, such as Great River Hospice, will have baskets up for bid during the silent auction. All of the money raised by each basket will go directly to the charity it represents — not to the Elks Lodge.
"There are so many small nonprofits that don't have fundraisers of their own," Johnston said.
Attendees can graze the exotic Cajun food to pick out what they like, which will include everything from boiled crawfish and sausage puffs to crab cakes and shrimp jambalaya. There will be tamer dining options as well, with about 15 items on the menu altogether.
“We have food for people who don’t like real spicy food,” Johnston said.
Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at Weird Harold’s and Riverview Designs. You can also purchase tickets online at www.shop.elks84.org or by calling the Elks at (319) 753-5281.