SHSU to celebrate Marti Gras cajun style.

The Sam Houston State and Huntsville communities will have the opportunity to celebrate Mardi Gras the Cajun way with the university’s fourth annual festival today.

The event will feature the Cajun music band Jambalaya with guest artist D.L. Menard, both of whom have been playing at the event since its inception, according to interim dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Terry Thibodeaux.

“He’s (Menard is) an old-time Cajun musician and is one of the most famous Cajun musicians still living today,” Thibodeaux said. “The core of the band has been together for over 20 years. They’re led by Terry Huval and he plays several instruments.”

Before the dance kicks off, at 8 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom, Joe Paris will give free Cajun dance lessons to students and Huntsville residents at 7 p.m. in the ballroom.

“Basically, you can dance to any Cajun song with either a two-step, which is slightly different from a Texas two-step, or a waltz,” Thibodeaux said. “There’s also a different kind of dancing called zydeco dancing, but this is not a zydeco band. This is a traditional Cajun band. They play some wonderful dance music, and we have a good time every year.”

The band visits SHSU annually because they speak to the English 375 class, “Texas Crossroads,” as well as play some music.

Thibodeaux said the Mardi Gras celebration allows people to learn about the culture and also breaks down stereotypes related to the Cajun people and culture.”I think a lot of times the Cajun culture is misunderstood because of some of the images and impressions that are given from mass media and even in restaurants,” he said. “What you see labeled as Cajun oftentimes is not authentic at all.”

Drinks will be sold at the dance, which is expected to end at 10:30 p.m.

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