Let the celebrating begin early…and let it not end until February 25th! Before digging into cooking the turkey and fixings…or before hitting the road for the Thanksgiving holiday there is a unique opportunity to add a unique Cajun flavor to the holidays. The Watauga County Arts Council is extending an invitation to kick off the holiday season with a Cajun-style dinner on Monday, November 21st at 6:30 pm in the beautiful, historical setting of Over Yonder, a quaint restaurant which is located at 3608 NC-194 in Sugar Grove, NC – in the historic Mast Farm Inn across from Valle Crucis Elementary School.
This unique event is called “Half-Way to Mardi Gras” and is the prelude event for the upcoming Mardi Gras celebration planned for Saturday, February 25th. At the “Half-Way to Mardi Gras”, guests will not only enjoy an okra buffet station and a plated muffaletta sandwich complimented by a heaping bowl of shrimp, chicken, and sausage potlikker gumbo with rice, but they will also finish it off with a New Orleans Bread Pudding with bourbon sauce complimented by coffee, tea, or a beverage from the cash bar. The authentic cuisine is guaranteed by the fact that Over Yonder’s Executive Chef and owner is Andrew Young, who hails from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Chef Young’s skilled culinary touch is complimented by the background of the event organizer, Jonell Hager, who also hails from Louisiana. Together they have created a truly authentic menu that will please even the most persnickety Cajun taste buds!
Another highlight of the evening is the fact that the King or Queen of the 2017 Mardi Gras will be announced at this event so that they may reign in splendor at the Mardi Gras on February 25th. In the Mardi Gras tradition, Mardi Gras Krewes, local clubs that sponsor parades and Carnival events, hold elaborate Balls and parties where their King, Queen and other Royalty are announced for the year. On its surface, the election of Royalty may seem comical. However, being chosen is a very special honor and is taken very seriously by New Orleanians. Mardi Gras Royalty are elected because of their contributions and standing in the community. Being chosen to represent a Krewe as a King or Queen is an honor that announces to the community at large that these people have made our city a better place and we recognize their hard work and dedication.
In keeping with that tradition, the Watauga County Arts Council’s Board of Directors has selected four nominees who have been instrumental in helping the Arts Council serve the community. A survey is available online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/L7BTBKF and everyone is invited to vote (and vote often) for the individual they feel should reign over the upcoming Mardi Gras.
Nominees for the King or Queen of Mardi Gras are:
Marsha Holmes, who chairs the Arts Council’s Gallery Committee. Marsha has been working with the Arts Council long before her service on the Board of Directors due to her position as an art teacher for the Project on Aging. Currently Marsha is a member of the WCAC’s Advisory Council.
Mike Wise holds the record for the longest service to the Arts Council, having served on its Board of Directors periodically since the early 1980’s and having held numerous positions including President, Treasurer, Grassroots Grants Panel chairman, and serving as an active member of the Finance Committee, a position he still holds along with also serving as a member of the WCAC’s Advisory Council. The Arts Council recently voted to name one of the most-used rooms in the Blue Ridge ArtSpace after him.
Perry Yates, while not serving on any boards or committees of the Arts Council has been very instrumental in helping the Arts Council procure, renovate, and maintain their current facility, the Blue Ridge ArtSpace. Perry is a member of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners and was first introduced to the work of the Arts Council at the time they were pursuing permission to lease the facility. He was so impressed with the work of the Arts Council that he not only voted in favor of the lease, but he has been very generous in providing building materials to help the Arts Council renovate and maintain the building.
Shelby Lane is a passionate lover of the arts and an avid supporter of the Watauga County Arts Council. She has served as a past President, chaired several committees hosted fundraising events, and has been a faithful member of the Finance Committee for the last several years. She, too, is a member of the WCAC’s Advisory Council.
Selection of the royal honoree is already underway online and votes may also be cast in person at the Blue Ridge ArtSpace at 377 Shadowline Drive in Boone. Tickets for the “Half-Way to Mardi Gras” event are $35/person and are available online at www.watauga-arts.org or by contacting the Arts Council at 828-264-1789. Due to space limitations, only thirty-eight tickets will be sold so guests are urged to purchase their tickets right away.