Over the last several years, Mardi Gras in Meridian has been a big deal with parades, concerts and cook-offs.
This year the party will continue, starting at 1 p.m. Feb.6, but it will be different. The Meridian Downtown Association organized what the Queen City Jam and it looks to be a fun filled Saturday packed full of good food and music.
"This year we focused on the gumbo cook-off and the music we are going to have all day," said Meredith Rea of the Downtown Alliance. "They've never done music all day before. We were not able to do the parade this year but we want a good turnout and we can build back up."
If you are disheartened by the lack of a parade, just win the gumbo cook off. The grand prize for the first place team is a free trip to New Orleans.
"We'll have all the contestants down Fifth Street and the first place wins a trip to New Orleans" said Rea."They can pick when they want to go and then we'll have a couple other gift certificates for second and third place teams."
Of course, your gumbo will be judged by a panel of professional culinary experts.
"For the first time in years we are having professionals," said Kenny Watts, president of meridian Downtown Association. "In the past there have been professionals but not as many; currently we have five or six."
There will also be local bands playing eight hours of music that begins at 1 p.m. Saturday. Five local bands will grace not one, but two stages set up Dumont Plaza.
"Five local bands. Best thing about it, every one of them are donating their time and their talents," said Jon Pollard of the Downtown Alliance. "We've got Dark Sundays, No Request, Sun Wolf, Random Theory Revival, and Charlie O' and the Mississippi Revival."
With music in the background, local food, jewelry, and art vendors will also be on Fifth Street for the crowd to enjoy during the day.