This year’s Mardi Gras celebration is planned for March 5, with organizers planning to have a little something for every member of the family.

“This will be our eighth annual Mardi Gras on the square festival hosted by the College Street Pub. We are opening the event up to a greater amount of merchants or vendors, which is new to us,” restaurant owner and event organizer Wayne Strickland said.

The event is held at Singleton Plaza, across from College Street Pub. New additions to the event will be food vendors and a children’s entertainment area. Vendors interested in participating can contact Strickland.

“The music for this year is a band out of Dallas called the Zydeco Stingrays. This will be the first year that we have had a ‘quote unquote’ full-fledged zydeco band. They are going be performing on the Ben E. Keith Stage. This is the second year in a row that they have donated their mobile covered stage. We are really happy with that and, of course, they are one of our major sponsors,” Strickland said.

The event kicks off at 11 a.m. in Singleton Plaza in downtown Waxahachie, with the Zydeco Stingrays taking the stage at noon.

Another new feature for this year’s event is a gumbo contest, sponsored by the Odd Fellows, at 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the former Barbeque Pit, next to Singleton Plaza. All are welcome to participate; the entry fee is $10. The entry fees will go toward the Odd Fellows’ scholarship fund for Waxahachie High School students, with a donation also to be made to Waxahachie Care.

The winner of the gumbo contest will receive two free tickets to the Odd Fellows ball, which will take place at 7 p.m. in the town square loft in downtown on Rogers Street. The top three gumbo cooks will have their product displayed and showcased at the ball that evening.

“The high school scholarship program and Waxahachie Care, those are two main recipients that we have each year. We were able to grow from one scholarship program to two gifts and that is kind of great,” Strickland said.

“It is our creed with Odd Fellow membership we try to search out and help kids that don’t have their ticket punched and really need it and are not flush with other scholarships,” he said. “That is the whole reason behind the ball itself and that is why we have the ball every year.”

Tickets to the ball are $35 and include a full Cajun meal and live entertainment by the Zydeco Stingrays. At the ball there will be a silent auction featuring everything from products and services to local art. Donations are still needed for the silent auction at this time.

All of the proceeds, apart from the cost of putting on the ball, go to the Odd Fellows’ charity account, which funds the scholarship program and the donation to Waxahachie Care.

A main part of the Mardi Gras celebration is the annual parade, which begins at 3 p.m. on Rogers Street and ends on College Street at the Pub. The entry fee for groups wanting to be in the parade is $10; beads are provided to each participant. Vendor spaces around Singleton Plaza are $30 for non-members of the Waxahachie Downtown Merchants Association. There is no charge for association members.

Sponsorships are still available for $100, which provides banner space, the sponsor’s name on the back of the event T-shirt and two T-shirts to the sponsor.

For more information about the ball, contact the Odd Fellows at 469-371-3491. Tickets for the ball can be purchased at College Street Pub, located at 210 N. College St.

For information about the Mardi Gras event, contact Strickland at College Street Pub at 972-938-2062. Forms for sponsorship, vendor sales and parade entry are available to download at www.collegestreetpub.com.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.