Participants wear costumes meant to mock the aristocracy while visiting homes, begging for gumbo ingredients. The runners, as they’re also known, chase chickens across fields. When all of the items are assembled, there’s a big party over the dish.
These runs are found in small towns as well as big public events. Not all are open to outsiders but if you do snag an invite, you’ll want to be prepared with your own ensemble.
While you can buy these items from locals in Louisiana and even on Etsy, you can also make your own! Use this guide to assemble your courir de Mardi Gras outfit.
Looking for more advice? Louisiana Travel has a step-by-step guide.
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Masks are required at most runs to follow the tradition. They also provide anonymity so that runners can behave freely without recognition. In a class in Lafayette, I made my own mask, pictured above.
They’re assembled with pieces of window screen and decorated with features to make the eyes, lips, and nose. Simply cut out an oval and line the edges with fabric to avoid getting scratched. You’ll also need a strap to attach to your head.
Use your creativity for facial features including items found in your home. Hot glue guns are the best way to attach items but be careful not to burn yourself!
The Capuchon (Hat)
The second aspect of the outfit is the hat or capuchon, which is in a cone shape. It’s the most popular type of hat worn during these runs but you also might find bishop’s miteres and mortarboards.
To make your own, grab a piece of poster board and roll it into the desired shape. Staple or glue it at the ends to keep it in place. You’ll also want a strap to keep the hat on your head.
Decorate the hat with fabric, usually the same type you’re using for your outfit. You can also attach items like ribbons, pom poms, fringe, and feathers.
The clothing worn at the run is your chance to really express your creativity with fabrics and details. Start with a base layer, which could be scrubs or an Army surplus-style jumpsuit. Pick one with pockets to carry your essentials.
From here, add strips of fabric cut every inch or so lengthwise. Attach by sewing or using fabric glue. It’s supposed to create a shabby look.
Don’t be afraid to go all out with bright colors. Visit your local craft or fabric store for different prints and touches like rhinestones, patches, and ribbons.
When it comes to shoes, comfort is key. Expect to get muddy while traipsing through fields so boots are recommended. Most importantly, have fun!
Short on time or patience? Order your outfit from Etsy.