Let the good times roll at Goosefoot’s Mardi Gras Party
— Created February 7, 2024 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Nobody on Whidbey Island throws a party quite like Goosefoot and the organization’s upcoming Fat Tuesday festivities should put the proof in the pudding.
Goosefoot’s 8th annual Mardi Gras Party will be held Tuesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Bayview Hall in Langley. This is a free, family-friendly event that will feature live music, lots of fun and camaraderie and even prizes. Event organizers say several things come together to make the evening extra special.
“Goosefoot is well known for throwing a party,” acknowledged Sami Postma, events and education coordinator for Goosefoot Community Fund. “On top of that, February or March (whenever Mardi Gras falls that year) is the perfect mix of not a lot of other events going on that people have to choose from, especially being a Tuesday night, but far enough into winter that people are starting to get stir-crazy in their houses. They just want a nice, relaxed, fun time. Our Mardi Gras party is such a welcoming environment to people of all ages and backgrounds, it’s impossible not to come away with a smile on your face.”
Postma said most people who attend the Mardi Gras party come from Whidbey Island or the surrounding area. It’s a good mix of people and age groups.
“Attendance really runs the gamut,” she said. “We have older couples, excited groups of friends, and every year we see more and more families with kids of all ages. I think last year’s grand prize was a family with kids from teenage to really small, and everyone was having a great time. We have our usual crowd that comes to almost every party Goosefoot throws, mixed in with people who are new to the area, haven’t heard of Goosefoot or what we do, but thought this might be a fun thing to do.”
Adding to the festive nature of the party this year is live music from Zydeco Explosion.
“We’re so lucky that for the first time since pre-COVID, we’ve got our Zydeco band back,” said Postma. “Ken Pickard and Zydeco Explosion plays a mix of new, old, and some very old authentic Zydeco and Cajun music. Zydeco music, native to Louisiana, is a true melting pot of French and Caribbean music and blues, with some really unique instruments like washboard and accordion. These folks have played for us for most of the Mardi Gras parties we’ve had, and we’re so excited to hear those tunes back in the hall.”
Obviously, Whidbey is a long way from New Orleans, but Goosefoot tries hard to pay homage to the spirit of what Mardi Gras is about.
“Mardi Gras is all about one last big party before getting down to business,” Postma shared. “Even if many of us don’t participate in the religious side of things, it’s a great way to wake Whidbey up from the winter slumber and start getting ready for the busy times to come. At the heart of Whidbey is an artistic, creative soul that’s all about community, and that’s what this party is about, too.
“We also translate the fun [of Mardi Gras by] handing out free beads as people come in the hall, which we’ve spent a couple of days decorating to the hilt,” she continued. “And the costumes! Whether people are just wearing Mardi Gras colors, a fun mask they picked up somewhere, or if they went head to toe on a fun idea, the costumes are truly something to behold.”
Prizes will be awarded in a few categories, such as best costume, best in show, most comical and best child costume as well as a prize for best mask. There are no entry forms to fill out and community judges will simply roam the crowd to check out all the costumes before selecting the winners. Postma said the community has stepped up and provided all kinds of fun things for party goers to win.
“I’m grateful and also deeply jealous that I’m not eligible for any of them,” she joked. “But we currently have 25 prizes, from gift cards to date nights to shuttle trips to awesome gift baskets. [They are] truly the best prizes we’ve had to date. I’m hoping the costumes are just as awesome to match them; they have been getting better and better each year!”
When asked, Postma confirmed the Mardi Gras party is not a fundraiser, but more of a “fun”raiser.
“‘Fun’raiser is the perfect way to put it! Goosefoot isn’t trying to raise money at all at this event, it really is just to bring the community together and have some fun,” she said, adding there will be beverages for sale at the bar and people are welcome to bring meals in with them – there will be Cajun specials available at the Taproom across the parking lot and the Chef in the Black Bandana food truck will also be there with Mardi Gras favorites like muffaletta, gumbo, jambalaya, King’s cake and more.
“We appreciate folks who tip the band to build on what we pay them, but even folks struggling for their next paycheck are welcome to come and have fun, no questions asked or expectations raised,” Postma said. “Times are tough on everyone, so we just want to have fun without shutting anyone out.”
And that attitude, Postma believes, is part of the magic of Mardi Gras on Whidbey.
“Standing in the middle of the Hall during Mardi Gras and just taking it all in really buoys me in an otherwise quiet time of year where I’m stuck behind my desk organizing all the things that happen months later,” she said. “There’s a particular kind of magic that happens at all the Bayview Corner events—even the shyest person, if they can just get up the courage to go sit near others or say hello, often gets adopted at Street Dances and other celebrations. It’s a wonderful place to make friends even if you didn’t already bring your own.
“But Mardi Gras is extra special,” Postma continued. “It’s a masquerade, after all! If you’re in a mask and wig, you can truly be anyone, so even the shyest among us can break out of their shells and really have fun for the night. I really encourage people to be open to swapping contact info, too. I love making friends at these parties!”
Learn more about Goosefoot Community Fund as well as its Mardi Gras Party at goosefoot.org and “laissez les bon temps rouler!”