Should they be so inclined, Wichita Mardis Gras fans could celebrate Fat Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. this year without taking a breath or a break.
A restaurant, a bar and a church all are putting on raucous Fat Tuesday events. Two are longtime events. One is brand new.
The following three events are marking Fat Tuesday, which is the traditional first day of the Mardis Gras and the eve of the start of Lent.
St. James Episcopal Church Oyster Dinner
This event is a 40-year tradition for St. James, the church at 3750 E. Douglas. Each year, it attracts more than 500 people ready to slurp fresh oysters on the half shell and sip beer. (Fried oysters, oyster stew, pie, wine and iced tea also are on the menu.)
This year, the party is without its longtime organizer, though. Rod Hansen, the good-natured, popular parishioner who ran the dinner for more than 30 years, died in November at age 64.
“He was a real jovial guy,” said Matthew Carroll, a longtime helper of Hansen’s who is taking over the lead role this year. “He was just loved within our parish.”
The dinner will go on, though, Carroll said, partially because the parish and the community love it and partially because it does so much good. The church puts it on as a fundraiser for Venture House and usually raises anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000.
Attendees buy a ticket that costs $50 in advance or $55 at the door. When they enter the dinner, they’re greeted by tables filled with oysters on the half shell, shipped in fresh from Louisiana. The church also makes fried oysters and oyster stew, and several parishioners bring pies. Diners can eat until they’re full and also can return to the open bar stocked with beer and wine as much as they’d like. New Orleans-style jazz is played in the background, and the tables are decorated with beads and other Mardis Gras accoutrements, giving the church hall a festive feel, Carroll said.
The dinner offers two seatings: One at 5:30 p.m. and one at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 316-259-7587 or e-mailing email@example.com. They’re also available on weekdays at the church office or at the door on Tuesday.
Doo-Dah Diner’s Fat Tuesday Cajun Feast fundraiser
Doo-Dah Diner owner and chef Patrick Shibley loves Cajun food, and his customers have loved the Cajun specials he occasionally serves up, from red beans and rice to jambalaya.
So Shibley and his wife/co-owner, Timirie, decided to put on an all-day Fat Tuesday Cajun feast at the restaurant, 206 E. Kellogg. The restaurant is usually closed on Tuesdays, which gives the couple the ability to dedicate the whole dining room to an all-you-can eat buffet that will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For a $40 ticket, attendees will be have access to the buffet, which will offer oysters on the half shell, crawfish, jambalaya, gumbo, shrimp etouffee and more. The Shibleys will decorate for the event and will play Cajun music in the dining room, and Patrick is making traditional King Cake. Tea and coffee are included in the ticket price.
The restaurant also will be raffling off a basketball signed by the members of Wichita State University men’s basketball team.
The event is a fundraiser for One Spark Foundation’s Tipsy Taxi program, and the restaurant will donate $10 of each ticket to the cause. The Shibleys are asking that people reserve tickets in advance so they know how much fresh crawfish and oysters to have shipped in.
Tickets are available on the Doo-Dah Diner Facebook page, and people also can call the restaurant at 316-265-7011 to make reservations.
The Mudbugs at Heroes
Heroes has the well-known local Mudbugs Cajun and Zydeco Band coming for its sixth consecutive Fat Tuesday party. The group, which is in high demand for Cajun and music festivals, will bring its washboard, accordion, fiddle and triangle to provide dance-friendly Cajun music from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Admission is free, and all ages are welcome.
Also part of the Heroes Fat Tuesday tradition: The restaurant/bar will be offering food specials such as gumbo and red beans and rice and will have New Orleans-style Hurricanes as well as other drink specials.