In late February, Moscow’s Main Street hosted a Mardi Gras parade every year, no matter how cold it was.
But due to costs, there will be no daytime events for this year’s Moscow Mardi Gras celebration. The evening will still be filled with fun, live music and charity for local youth programs, though.
“We’re not going full force this Mardi Gras, that way we can take this next year and really reach out,” said Genevieve Bode, director of the Moscow Mardi Gras organization.
Bode said Moscow Mardi Gras will be held at several venues 9 p.m. March 4 in downtown Moscow. Local bars Mingles, John’s Alley and the Garden Lounge will have live music and the 1912 Center will host a TabiKat Drag Show for individuals under 21. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door and all proceeds go to local youth programs.
“I want to say we gave about $5,000 or $6,000 last year, which is actually down from what we normally do,” Bode said. “The year before was about seven and the year before that was 12. The attendance of Moscow Mardi Gras has really been declining. People don’t go out to the bars like they used to.”
Because of the decline in ticket sales, Bode said they are undergoing major changes, such as changing the name of the charitable organization from Moscow Mardi Gras to along the lines of the Palouse Youth Project. She said they want to have more fundraising events over the course of the year and thinks the name will make the organization more inviting to business and community partners.
She said some people don’t understand the purpose of the evening’s festivities.
“It’s a charity event. We are raising money for a purpose. That’s part of the reason it’s been down in attendance is people think ‘Oh it’s just a party. We have to pay to go to the bars,’ and people don’t want to do that, but what they don’t realize is that the money’s actually for reason.”
The Garden Lounge has live music only once a year, and the bar’s manager Nick Penoncello said that night is Moscow Mardi Gras.
“It feels different,” Penoncello said. “People are partying and having a good time but the main point that everyone wants to get across is it’s for youth charity.”
Penoncello said he has talked with Bode about the decline in ticket sales and the changing bar culture in Moscow. He attributes the lower numbers at bars to the greater number of restaurants on Main Street which serves beer and wine.
Tickets are sold at the three participating bars and at Safari Pearl for $10. They can also be purchased at the door for $15. One ticket is good for all the venues.
Penoncello said he looks forward to a bigger and more focused Moscow Mardi Gras in the future.
“The kids just want to do the drinking and seeing boobs and whatever they do, but the money is for youth charity and it’s based on the real Mardi Gras,” Penoncello said.
Jack Olson can be reached at email@example.com