Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation members Gerald Skrocki, left, and Paul Gavry show off one of the window displays for the Feb. 9 Mardi Gras-themed fundraiser at the Creative Connections Art Center on East Main Street.
By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
Mardi Gras is coming to Amsterdam, and it's coming to support a local cause.
On Feb. 9 members of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation will join members of the community at the Creative Connections Art Center for an evening of New Orleans-style dishes, music and costumes.
The event is aimed at raising money to support the Riverlink Summer Concert Series, a series that brings musicians of different genres to Riverlink Park during the summer for free public shows on the waterfront.
Paul Gavry, president of the foundation, said this is the first time that the foundation has held a fundraiser of this scale, but all of the funds -- which he is hoping will reach more than $2,000 -- will go right to the facilitation of the concert series this summer.
The foundation team searched for the perfect location to hold their cultural, Mardi Gras-themed shindig, and locked eyes on the Arts Center.
With a top floor housing a dance floor and a lot of open space, the site ended up being the perfect spot for the group to host their event.
Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," ends Carnival Season in the city of New Orleans, a season marked by extravagant parades, masked costumes, beads, and celebration, according to the Louisiana State Museum website.
And on Feb. 9, the Arts Center will be decked in those beads, decorations, masks, and more to bring a little bit of the culture to Amsterdam.
"It will be very festive," said foundation member Gerald Skrocki.
The evening kicks off at 5:30 p.m. where residents can come in for cocktails, with beer and wine coming from Louisiana.
And at 6:30 p.m. the Cajun dinner buffet begins.
"We're going to have the most authentic Creole food," Skrocki said, bringing in delicacies from Cafe Nola on Union Street in Schenectady.
The menu will include Blackened Chicken Etoufee, Crawfish Jambalaya, Dirty Rice, Salad, Chicken Puff Pastry, and traditional King Cake for dessert.
At 8 p.m., to go along with the concert series tradition, Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys -- a Cajun Zydeco band -- will play for the crowd until 11 p.m.
"We wanted an authentic Creole band and there weren't too many around this time of the year because they're pretty much all at Mardi Gras," Skrocki said.
But the band happened to be touring the northeast with an open date on Feb. 9, Gavry said.
So far, 40 tickets have been sold for the event, but Gavry is hoping for many more.
He hopes that the evening will not only bring in new faces, but encourage those new faces to attend the summer concert series.
"It just seemed like sort of an opportunity," he said. "Mardi Gras doesn't get celebrated like it does in Louisiana ... I would like to do something like this annually."
Skrocki, the newest foundation member who takes photos for the concert series, said he first went down to Riverlink Park for a concert after hearing the music from his home.
"I want to get more people involved," he said. "I had no idea all this work was being done with such a small group."
The Waterfront Foundation currently consists of only a handful of members who put the concert series on each year.
He hopes more will recognize the asset of having a city right on the river and will want to become involved.
"If the city is to strive and grow, it has to be connected to the river," he said. "Riverfront access is the most important. It's our biggest asset. It's our front door. It's why the city is here."
Tickets for the Mardi Gras event are still available for $50 if purchased by Sunday.
After that, they go to $60.
For more information on the event or to contact the foundation about becoming a member, readers can contact the foundation through www.riverlinkconcerts.com.