031014-MKT_MardisGras1

Mardis Gras party livens up downtown Saluda

Published 3:00am Sunday, March 9, 2014

Jambalaya, file` gumbo (with chicken and sausage), red beans and rice, and other Gulf of Mexico-based traditional food, along with Cajun, Zydeco and New Orleans Jazz music, graced Thompson’s Store in Saluda on Saturday, March 1 at a special Mardi Gras masquerade party.

Some 65 individuals attended the event, held at the historic store’s second-floor boarding house.

While most people associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans (Some argue that the best rendition in modern times is held in Lafayette, La), Clark Thompson, who grew up in Saluda, and is related to the original Thompsons, who held the store for generations, said the celebration actually originated in Mobile, Ala. in the 1700s, when that young city was the capital of French settlement in the Gulf region.

“I want it (this particular event) to be more Cajun Mardi Gras (regarding food and music),” Thompson said.

He pointed out that the file` (made from sassafras leaves) used on the gumbo Sunday, was lovingly prepared by a woman now, 95, who grew up in the Creole food tradition.

The lavish tradition-based decorations, and the actual decorating of the boarding house space were provided gratis by Janice Stoudemire of Lexington, S.C. Her husband, Thom, brother-in-law George, a friend Shirley Amick, also helped decorate. Janice’s son Ryan Stoudemire, and Emily Sapier, served as greeters.

Participants decreed, “We gonna pass a good time.”

Next event at Thompson’s, said owner Judy Ward, is for St. Patrick’s Day, held on Sunday, March 16, when the venue features ‘“Catherine and Katherine,” a little Irish skit.’

Thompson, who has helped restore various parts of the Thompson’s Store/Ward’s Grill/boardinghouse business, and the barn behind the complex, noted that the facility is available for many kinds of events, including weddings.

“I think we’re filling a need,” he said.

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