By The Way - Travel

What Mardi Gras looks like in rural Louisiana

Outside New Orleans, far from Bourbon Street, is a different kind of Mardi Gras. The Courir de Mardi Gras, a centuries-old tradition with Catholic and medieval roots, is celebrated by Cajun communities in Southern Louisiana.

The first chicken is tossed for the chase.

Somewhere along the loop around the crawfish ponds.

In Eunice, La., men and women participate in the traditional Fat Tuesday run. Dressed in homemade costumes and masks, they chase chickens through 13 miles of swaps, streets and fields. Bands plays while they drink beer and whiskey, beg for change, chase the birds and feast on boudin sausage. We followed along for the annual celebration.

Runners take a breather during lunch.

Costumes can be made of any fabric, but being homemade is a must.

Spectators watch as a runner catches a chicken that ran into a barn.

After a runner catches a chicken, it’s common to hold onto the trophy.

The Capitaine leads the runners to the next stop.

Spectators wait as the chicken is being locked in a cage at the top of an aluminum pole.

A 20-foot, freshly greased pole is climbed to catch the chicken in the cage at the top.

The runners will chase a chicken anywhere it goes.

A Mardi Gras runner has broken the rules and must suffer the consequences. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this slideshow incorrectly stated that only men participate in Courir de Mardi Gras in Eunice, La. Women also take part. The text has been updated to reflect this.