New Orleans’ spirit hits Tallahassee

Just in time for the Mardi Gras season, Railroad Square brought a similar venture for the city’s enjoyment Saturday. 

The one-day ArtiGras event boasted thousands of attendees, performers and vendors for people of all ages to enjoy.

This year’s New Orleans-style festival was the biggest yet, according to Laura Floyd.

Floyd serves as the executive director for the Cultural Arts Alliance at Railroad Square, which is the group that puts on the festival.

“We saw a huge turnout this year,” Floyd said. “We hope that the numbers continue to increase.”

Railroad Square had a scavenger hunt for kids. The kids had to look for participating businesses with certain signs and had a chance to decorate masks.

The event also featured the Trashtonauts, a musical group that helps kids make instruments out of everyday products most consider to be trash. The instruments the children made were played in the parade.

A large and grandiose parade illuminated the art park with vintage cars, impersonators, belly dancers, musicians and many others. Onlookers were thrown beads and other trinkets following the tradition of a typical Mardi Gras parade, Floyd said.

Railroad Square was booming for business during the festival as all businesses were open to the public.

Peter Berry of Peter Berry Fine Arts was one business owner who was excited to participate. Berry gave fractal demonstrations to the public, which is a form of art built off of math programs.

“I really enjoyed being able to participate in the festival this year, as well as give demonstrations,” Berry said. “A lot of people do not know about fractal art, so it was great to show them a new side of art and promote my business.”

Other businesses sold products such as vintage clothing, New Orleans-style cuisine, glass beads and furniture. Patrons could also get face painting, palm readings and henna tattoos throughout the event.

Once the family portion ended, the older crowd was able to enjoy a free concert and alcoholic beverages. Age-appropriate adults enjoyed a beer garden, whiskey samplings and a variety of food trucks from which to wine and dine.

The concerts featured local bands and performers, which led to the performance of a four-time Grammy nominated Cajun, Creole and Zydeco musician, Cedric Watson.

Student violinist Candice Smith, a third-year music education student from Detroit, said she enjoyed the performances.

“As a musician, I really enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere,” Smith said. “I fell in love with the tunes by Mark Russell, a local violinist.”