The temperature is slated to reach the low-70s Saturday, providing near-perfect weather as Sherman unmasks its inaugural Red River Mardi Gras & Jazz Festival. Crews worked feverishly Thursday to put the finishing touches on event preparations, affixing the schedule of events to sandwich boards, completing photo-op cut-outs, and distributing T-shirts to the army of volunteers who will provide staffing for the festivities.
“I am thrilled that this event is being run by a volunteer organization and sponsored by local businesses and membership,” said Sherman Downtown Preservation and Revitalization mainstay Jared Tredway, who himself will be volunteering Saturday afternoon. “Our downtown organization is unique in that it receives no regular funding from the city or any other government. Our executive director Karen Tooley has done a terrific job at organizing a wholly volunteer staff.”
The event will kick-off Friday night with a black-tie ball and poker tournament at Grayson Hall (Kelly Square), at which organizers are expecting nearly 150 local luminaries. Things get rolling in earnest on Saturday at 3 p.m., as an array of jazz and zydeco bands will perform across four stages in Sherman’s Courthouse Square, the town’s jazz museum, and a large tent housing an open-air stage located in between.
A costume contest will be held on the Courthouse steps at 4:30 p.m., with a crawfish boil and a gumbo cook-off situated around the Square. Local jazz legend Rodney Boothe will perform with his Dixieland Band from 3-6 p.m. at the Jazz Museum, with the Justin Pierce Jazz Combo taking the main stage at 8 p.m and playing until the event wraps at 11.
For those who prefer the accordion-washboard mix of zydeco music — a Creole staple —Jay B & the Zydeco Posse will take the main stage at 5 p.m. with Jorge Reyna & Zydeco Country following on the Courthouse steps at 7:30 p.m.
Non-musical fare will include a performance by the Austin College Improv Troupe at the Courthouse from 4-5 p.m., sandwiched in between two groups of belly dancers at the same location. Street performers, carriage rides, and a smorgasbord of vendors will provide entertainment in and around the Square throughout.
Tickets to the event can be purchased at a reduced cost at RedRiverMardiGras.com, or for $10 per person on Saturday. TAPS will be providing free shuttle service to-and-from the event, with pick-up locations at Austin College, the Sherman Public Library and Bearcat Stadium.