Fair group kicks off Mardi Gras season in style

Charlotte Guedry
Ascension Fair Association Vice President Richard Brown and President Tony Christy get into the spirit with some Mardi Gras Mambo.

The Gonzales Civic Center transformed itself into a scene reminiscent of the New Orleans French Quarter on Friday, Feb. 18, as the Ascension Fair Association hosted its first Mardi Gras Gala.

Members of the AFA took center stage as they entered to the sounds of a second line played by Level Sixx. It didn’t take long for revelers to get into the Mardi Gras spirit.

 “This is a wonderful night,” said Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux. “I think it’s great when events like this bring the community together to socialize and have a good time. When people meet like this, it means good things are happening.”

The AFA was organized in 1950. Citizens from Prairieville felt that residents needed better access to educational and recreational services.

The mission of the association is to “provide support and to improve the quality of life for the Prairieville and surrounding areas by focusing on education, enrichments, and empowerment of our youth, the elderly, family units, and the community as a whole.”

The Mardi Gras Gala was attended by area sponsors. The money raised from the ticket sales will go to “the restoring of buildings and grounds, and the hosting of educational programs in the community,” according to AFA President Tony Christy.

The association aquired the fairgrounds in the 1950s, and over the years they have used the site to host a number of educational, health and wellness activities. In 2008, the fairgrounds were named as a Louisiana Historic Site.

Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson was also on-hand, and knows first hand the importance of the association.

“This is an example of community support for a good cause,” said Jackson. “About 40 years ago, there was a parade here that this association introduced to the community. It was like a fair for kids with music and everything. It sort of fell apart, and this group is trying to bring that all back for the residents. Prior to segregation, this group made it possible for kids like me to feel part of things, like 4H Club. I think they’re great, and it’ll be wonderful to get that parade back again.”

This was the first Mardi Gras Gala hosted by the association, and AFA Vice President Richard Brown thinks it will be the first of many.

“We had a great success on Friday night. People have already been asking when the next party is. They’ve been saying once a month would be great, or at least at Christmas.”

Pictured at the Ascension Fair Association Mardi Gras Gala Friday were, from left, Sharon Morris, ARC of East Ascension board member and Dancing for a Cause Chairperson; AFA Vice President Richard Brown; Ascension Parish Assessor Renee Mire Michel; AFA member Clarence Henry; former Ascension Parish District 2 Justice of the Peace Dean Smith; Ascension Sheriff’s Office representative Robert Williams; and Gonzales Chief of Police Sherman Jackson.