A Southern Focus

Mardi Gras in Lake Arthur

By M.K. QuinlanFebruary 12, 2013

Birmingham, Alabama photographer Wes Frazer needs no excuse to travel. So when his friend Byron Sonnier—a Lake Arthur, Louisiana native—invited him to participate in the town’s annual Mardi Gras parade, Frazer didn't hesitate to head south on I-59 with his camera in tow.

What started out as a good time with friends has turned into a five-year documentary project chronicling Lake Arthur’s Mardi Gras festivities—the pre-party, the parade, the people, and the changing scenery of this small town. “I love telling stories with my camera," Frazer says, "Most of the time I’m working on short assignments, so I count this journey with Lake Arthur as something special.”

Last year, Frazer published a book filled with photos from his years spent documenting Lake Arthur. We’ve chosen some of our favorite shots—with commentary from Frazer—that we think tell Lake Arthur’s story best.
For more information on Frazer’s book, go to wesfrazer.org.


Lake Arthur horseback riders wearing traditional Cajun Mardi Gras attire during the town's "chicken run" (a pre-parade tradition of running through town to scavenge for food for evening's Mardi Gras feast).


The first stop on the chicken run is the yard of the former mayor who also owned the bar next door, the Red Rose.



Elizabeth Doland and her friend Heather Saucier. The Dolands have been riding on our float for years, longer than I have for sure.

We convinced my friend Ally Bulka to tag along with us to Lake Arthur two years ago. She decided to wear a chicken mask and dance along side our float.

These ladies were having a blast eating Jell-O shots en route to the final stop on the chicken run.

Another shot of folks gathered on the chicken run route, just before the parade begins.


Ally Bulka (chicken) and Tracy Martin (goat) taken minutes before we boarded the float, roughly 7:30 a.m.

I took this photo of Beer 30, one of the nineteen bars in town, on my first visit to Lake Arthur. Unfortunately, the front of the building has since had a facelift.

On our way to the chicken run, I passed this girl who had just won the Junior Miss contest.

The view from the float.

The view on our float.

Folks gather in front of the Lake Arthur Knight of Columbus. This was the shot used on the cover of my book.

Father and daughter on horseback after the parade.