February 4, 2011 8:27:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Dudy Gras 5.5 begins today regardless of the weather.
The parade, though, could be a game-time decision.
Sleet and ice Thursday night closed city schools and caused traffic accidents around the Golden Triangle.
The exodus of trailers and floats down University Drive to Left Field Lounge at Dudy Noble Field is the kick off to the eight-day celebration of Mississippi State''s eight trips to the College World Series.
Co-organizer Hobie Hobart was confident Thursday night the parade would continue as planned at 4:30 p.m. today.
"We had 20 something in the parade last year, and we expect about that many this year," Hobart said. "If folks just want to bring a pickup truck and be in the parade, the more the merrier. Rain, sleet, hail, snow -- we''re going."
Rain is forecasted for much of today, with a 50-percent chance at the start of the parade.
Today''s conditions are similar to what Hobart and co-organizers Chip Carley, Eric Halburg, and Sumner Davis faced six years ago.
"The first day (it was) raining, sleeting and snow," Hobart said. "We voted not to do it, and (friend) Hardy Mitchell drove up and said, ''I know it''s raining, but this is a big idea and can work.'' We went into Mugshots (a restaurant in Starkville) that night, partook in some drinks, and decided to do it. We gave ourselves half credit that year, hence Dudy Gras 5.5."
The grand marshall of the parade is former MSU quarterback John Bond.
The Red Beans and Rice Cook-Off on Main Street will be before the parade. The Cook-Off is an addition that came about this year with the help of Starkville Main Street Association, this year''s sponsor of Dudy Gras.
Four amateur teams will compete with their best recipes for awards such as "Best Beans," "People''s Choice", and "Best Decorated Booth." Cooking begins at noon and tasting will begin at 4 p.m.
"We at the Starkville Main Street Association are thrilled about the opportunity to grow Dudy Gras from a wonderful local event to a week-long festival that will allow local residents and visitors to experience the authenticity and variety of some of Starkville''s greatest restaurants, while celebrating one of Starkville''s favorite past times, MSU baseball," said Robyn Cain, Starkville Main Street Association program coordinator.
Saturday marks the beginning of the "8 Days of Dudy Gras." Eight local restaurants will host the celebration each day and feature Cajun-style foods and drink specials.
Businesses included in the tour include Ptolemy''s Taproom, City Bagel Café, The Little Dooey, Restaurant Tyler, Old Venice Pizza Company, Mugshots, Central Station Grill, and The Veranda. The Veranda will host the Dudy Gras Masquerade ball at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12 to close the Dudy Gras celebration. Aside from a festive Mardi Gras atmosphere, the event will have music and appetizers, and those who attend are encouraged to wear masks and Mardi Gras attire. Tickets are $15.
Last year, in conjunction with the Red Cross, the ball helped raise money for families of victims of the Academy Crossings fire.
Starkville bureau reporter Tim Pratt contributed to this story.
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