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Annual Mardi Gras festival returns to Rosewood neighborhood for 13th year

parade3-photo by Jeff Lawler.JPG

The 13th annual Mardi Gras parade will happen in Rosewood. Photo provided/Jeff Lawler.

It’s almost time again for Columbia’s annual Mardi Gras Festival — a New Orleans-inspired day-long celebration and parade in Columbia's Rosewood neighborhood. 

The 13th annual festival is on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 12 p.m. until 7 p.m. at City Roots farm. 

The festival is hosted by Columbia grassroots community organization, Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya. The organization celebrates and supports Columbia’s local arts and music scene in a variety of ways, including through the Mardi Gras Festival, which got its start in 2010.

The party first started when a friend of the organizers lost one of his barns to a fire. The group of friends, compromised of influential Columbia folks like prominent restaurateur Kristian Niemi and Soda City Market's Emile DeFelice, decided to hold a fundraiser in conjunction with Mardi Gras. 

“Tom Hall, Eric McClam, Emile DeFelice and Kristian Niemi threw together a party and parade at City Roots and had about 350 people show up, and the following year, nearly 2000 showed up — the rest has been Ya-Ya history," Columbi-Ya-Ya’s Krewe Captains said.

Mardi Gras Columbia will showcase live music across three stages, have food trucks and local vendors and beer from Louisiana-based Abita Brewing Company, Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and BevSouth. This year’s music lineup consists of 16 different artists, with performances beginning at noon.

“We considered each band’s past contributions to Mardi Gras and their level of enthusiasm, nonchalance and willingness to embrace the Ya-Ya spirit of Mardi Gras in a cacophony of sound,” Tom Hall, Captain and founding member of Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya said. “The truth is that these bands are all willing to play for Mardi Gras because it’s for Columbia — they play for little money, but we feed them and love them up, and they are giving back to our community.”

Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya hopes to see even more participation in the parade this year, where anyone is allowed to paint their car, dress up and show their Mardi Gras spirit.

“It’s cheap to get into, it has more bands than you can possibly see, it has its own haphazard anything-goes parade, dogs are allowed and great beers are served,” Columbi-Ya-Ya’s Krewe Captains said. “What more could you want?”

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. on Jim Hamilton Blvd in the Rosewood district. The parade will feature the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya’s 2023 king and queen Scott Nuelken, executive director of Cola Town Bike Collective, and Dawn Hunt, a breast cancer survivor and PRISMA Health Cancer Institute Board Member. 

The family-friendly festival requires a $5 entry fee for anyone over the age of 12. More information on this year's festival can be found at

Mardi Gras Columbia Festival

Feb. 18. $5. City Roots Farm in Rosewood.

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